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 week’s 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 the 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 it’s actually quite a problem. You see, they couldn’t just change the color formulation 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 thread 3861 color 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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This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Barbara Perera

    Two years I thought I had every color and shade , now it’s even harder to set up what I might want to do

  2. Theresa Langdon

    You should put the colours on the labels. Some of us are colour blind

  3. L.G

    Thank you very much. I knew the meaning of the points. Is there a difference if the point is to the left or to the right of the number?

    1. LordLibidan

      Not that we need to care about. It means they were updated at a slightly different time.

  4. Gail Chism

    Thank you for telling us that. It’s great information.

  5. Barbara Diefenderfer

    Thank you for explaining what we need to look for on the labels.