Why were those DMC threads discontinued?

A few weeks ago we looked at how cross stitch threads are made and surprisingly we were bombarded with comments about discontinuations of DMC threads. So I decided for our second look at threads, we’d look at discontinuations.
 
There are a few sets of discontinued threads from DMC and there looks like there is a load of confusion over them, so without further ado, here are the sets:

3880 replaced with 223
3881 replaced with 164
3882 replaced with 839
3883 replaced with 722
3884 replaced with 535
3885 replaced with 312
3886 replaced with 3685
3887 replaced with 208
3888 replaced with 3740
3889 replaced with 445
3890 replaced with 3766
3891 replaced with 995
3892 replaced with 740
3893 replaced with 543
3894 replaced with 907
3895 replaced with 646

The most recent discontinued threads from DMC come in the form of the 2013 ‘3800’ series. A lot is said about these particular threads due to how weird they were. Unlike any other thread sold by DMC these were only ever sold as a package; never alone. In addition they only released in the USA (but also made their way to Canada through resellers).
Most people suspect therefore that these had an issue being sold in the EU, and whilst that is partly true, most people are getting confused with the second set of threads.
 
You see, back in the 1990s DMC threads were made in two factories; in France and the USA. At the time US threads were considerably more expensive than they are now and one of the reasons was the dye cost, which was taxed heavily at the time. So the US factory came out with new dyes to replace the hard to get dyes. The set sold as a tester to see if they should change some other colors (see below), but poor sales of the packs, thanks to the fact that they were copies of colors already in the range, meant they were scrapped within a year.
 
Officially, these were never actually discontinued. Whilst they are no longer sold on their own (apart from on the DMC US website), you can still pick up the larger packs, however branding hasn’t changed since 2013, so there is a good chance its old stock.

Discontinued US only DMC threads (source: 123stitch.com)
Discontinued US only DMC threads (source: 123stitch.com)

504 replaced with 3813
731 replaced with 732
776 replaced with 3326
781 replaced with 782
971 replaced with 740
806 replaced with 3760
868 replaced with 801
3773 replaced with 407

Those other threads the US factory considered removing? Wasn’t officially discontinued until 2015, the most recent set of discontinuations. The new EU laws in 2000 stated that no new products could use dyes classes as harmful to the environment. DMC chose to alter the dyes of a whole set of their threads, but for some dyes, they just couldn’t get a good match. Whilst the threads were phased out of all EU stores (and removed from their thread cards), they hung around in the US for some time, who didn’t have the same dye laws. They were officially removed alongside some variegated threads (without alternatives) in 2015.

But what about the new DMC threads? Is this signs that we might be getting more discontinuations?

No. In fact, the new range fills in many of the gaps of the old range, and we think, thanks to the numbering, that we might be seeing a ‘renumbering’ of the old set soon.
 
Need a DMC thread card with the new colors? We have you covered.
DMC shade color thread card chart with new DMC threads

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6 thoughts on “Why were those DMC threads discontinued?

  1. I was recently given a whole lot of DMC six strand floss in the 2000 range yet cannot find alternatives for these threads

    1. All of the range from 2000 is mostly used in the US, however the closest replacements are:
      504 replaced with 3813
      731 replaced with 732
      776 replaced with 3326
      781 replaced with 782
      971 replaced with 740
      806 replaced with 3760
      868 replaced with 801
      3773 replaced with 407

  2. I certainly hope there will never be a “renumbering” – it would make a giant mess out of patterns created before any such event.

  3. Hello!
    English is not my mother tongue and I am not sure I understand what was the purpose of the 3800 series consisting in 16 DMC shades.

    ”You see, back in the 1990s DMC threads were made in two factories; in France and the USA. At the time US threads were considerably more expensive than they are now and one of the reasons was the dye cost, which was taxed heavily at the time. So the US factory came out with new dyes to replace the hard to get dyes. The set sold as a tester to see if they should change some other colors (see below), but poor sales of the packs, thanks to the fact that they were copies of colors already in the range, meant they were scrapped within a year.”
    Is this entire paragraph regarding the 3800 series? If yes, you mean the 3800 series was an exact match of some shades already in the usual DMC range?
    Thank you in advance.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I was trying to find the names of this pack of threads so I could have a complete list of my threads. The sets of “16 new colors” are still being sold in the US at retail stores and on the DMC website (dmc.com/us) as of April 2019. Now I have the information I need.

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