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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This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Erica

    I know that 732 is the recommended substitute for 731 and 782 is the recommended substitute for 781, but my design has all four colors in it. Is there anything else that would work as a substitute?

  2. Kay

    I’m sorting my stash and have come across some older threads – there are 2 of DMC280 a sort of lime green. Would you know what this is currently?

    1. LordLibidan

      Hi,
      I’m afraid there’s never been a DMC 280, so it sounds like this might have been mislabeled.
      There’s also nothing I can think this might be based on the number, however, if it’s lime greeny I would think it’s somewhere in the 699/700/701/702/703/704 or 904/905/906/907 ranges.

  3. Debbie Tait

    Is there a way to get a set of these 3800 series?

    1. LordLibidan

      You can still find them, mostly second-hand, eBay is a good place to look. But you’ll have to buy each skein individually and prices are high as they’re not making any more.

    2. Rebecca

      Debbie Tait, Search for “dmc exclusive colors” and you’ll find a lot of US retailers. I’m planning to look for the pack at local stores, to be sure it contains all 16 colors and not substitutions. As of today (Dec 3, 21), DMC’s US website is out of several colors, even though the page still advertises 16 colors. And the pack from DMC has only 13 of the 16 3800-series colors.

  4. elske

    I have a strand of dmc 9200. Does that aound familiair at all?

    1. LordLibidan

      Yeh, I’ve heard that number twice before. What color is it?
      There is a 9200 that came under the “Custom by me!” label, which is a black/grey metallic thread.
      Occasionally color 603 is sometimes referred to as 9200 (not sure why), and that’s a bright pink.

  5. Mousebound

    Hello! I recently ordered what was supposed to be the 3880 – 3895 set of colors from Michael’s – what I received (and then returned) appears to have been a set of equivalents that are different from the list you have:
    3880 (223) 3722
    3881 (164) 3364
    3882 (839) 801
    3883 (722) still 722
    3884 (535) 04
    3885 (312) still 312
    3886 (3685) 35
    3887 (208) 3837
    3888 (3740) 3041
    3889 (445) still 445
    3890 (3766) 3846
    3891 (995) 3844
    3892 (740) 970
    3893 (543) still 543
    3894 (907) still 907
    3895 (646) 648

    I think the box had a copyright date of 2018. Hope this is useful…

    1. LordLibidan

      We’ve heard of a few of those recently, all with different numbers in, all from Michael’s. Not too sure why.
      I can tell you though, their replacements are well off. For example 3884 is a mid to dark grey, but 04 is a light grey. Crazy…

    2. Christine

      Getting back to my cross stitching and just found your site. Fabulous!

      As I update my floss collection, I’m so confused by these discontinued colors! At any rate, I came across my mystery skein, I have it labeled 3577. Ive had it on the side for years because I figure it was an oddity or an error on my part. Any thoughts?

      1. LordLibidan

        Hrm… is it a dark red?
        It could be 3777 DMC, or it could be 357 by Anchor. Both are dark reds.
        Don’t suppose you could take a photo of the color?