What are those dots on DMC thread labels?

In our deep dive into threads, we’ve covered two points, how DMC threads are made and why some DMC threads were discontinued. The reason we’ve covered those two points first, is the answer to this weeks query; what are those dots and marks after thread numbers?
You may have noticed when picking colors, or using them, that there are a variety of dots and marks before and after some cross stitch numbers. These are those marks if you’re unsure what we mean:

DMC threads with dots after numbers

Thanks to the new DMC color chart that came out thanks to the 35 new DMC threads, DMC make more of these dots, and if you have a keen eye, you’ll notice the pre-2018 color card has different dots to the post-2018 color card.
So what are they? Basically, they’re changes in formula to avoid using nasty chemicals. In the EU dye usage is highly monitored and as a result they’ve required suppliers of threads to make sure they use only friendly dyes. This has happened in two stages; firstly in 1994 when a lot of greys were changed to fit in with new laws, and again in late 2017 when lots of the reds were affected.

Well that’s interesting, but why do I care?

I’m glad you asked. Dye lots. And its actually quite a problem. You see, they couldn’t just change the color fomulation and keep the colors perfect, and as a result we now need to monitor which version of the threads we’re using; old or new. An example of how different they can be is below on some of the 1994 color changes:

DMC 3861 dye lot differences (source: Cindi Csraze)
DMC 3861 dye lot differences (source: Cindi Csraze)

In fact, DMC even carry the warning on their color charts:

Do not mix with the original colours without the dot.

That’s just how serious this problem might be, so from now on, keep your eye out for those dots of colors 304, 321, 498, 815 and 816.
My thanks to DMC and Sidar who supplied information, along with Martha Beth.

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4 thoughts on “What are those dots on DMC thread labels?

  1. It’s worthwhile to note that the
    greys (317, 318, 320, 413, 414, 415, 503, 504, 762, 959, 977, 991, 3363, 3799) became much more blue in 1995-ish, and the
    reds (600, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 956, 3607, 3608, 3804, 3805, 3806) were affected in 2001-ish.
    Also in 2001 several colors were merged [504 (use 3813), 731 (use 732), 776 (use 3326), 781 (use 782), 806 (use 3760), 971 (use 740), 3773 (use 407)] due to the dyes changing and causing to previously slightly different colors to end up the same.

    This can be important to note if anyone gets from friends/family/thrift any older thread, older patterns (which will use the older numbers or expect older shades of the colors), and when using suggested fabrics for older patterns that assume older colors.

    It’s also becoming very difficult to find this information online. ๐Ÿ™
    I know there were other changes prior to 1995, but they don’t seem to be noted anywhere on the interwebs. In fact I am holding 2 old skeins of DMC 498 where one is noticeably more magenta than the other, but I have no idea when this happened in the DMC universe.

    1. Hi,
      Actually, we’re speaking directly to DMC with this and it looks like its actually how the threads have been stored and NOT a dye change. We’re investigating further though.
      We’ll have a more detailed post soon on the topic including ways to make sure the color change doesn’t impact your older patterns.

  2. Thank you for all your information on DMC threads. On your description re the dots, I think you are talking about pre-2018 and post-2018. However, it says pre-2018 in both places when you are talking about the colour card.

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