Why You Need a DMC Color Card

When it comes to threads, we all want that elusive full set of DMC threads, but for those us who aren’t so lucky, there is another thing you might want; a DMC color card. In fact, those who have all the threads often have one anyway, and they’re so useful! But why exactly?

What Type Of Color Card?

First off, let’s talk about what type of color card we mean. There are basically, three types; online, printed and threaded. We want the threaded one. The online and printed ones are great, but each computer screen shows off the colors slightly differently. In fact, scanners and cameras take slightly different photos too, meaning they are never perfect. We put hours and hours into making the best online DMC thread color chart we could, however, we started with a threaded version. Its the best. You can pick one up on Etsy however if you can’t pick one up right now, an online one like ours will still help you!

DMC Embroidery Floss Color Card (Source: stitchedmodern.com)

When To Use One

Unless you’ve used one before, it might seem like a little costly extra that really isn’t needed for most cross stitchers, however, a thread color card is frankly, one of the most useful objects in cross stitch.
We’ve made a little list, but frankly, there would be LOADS of other reasons too (I pick mine up almost daily):

Designing your own pattern

When designing your own pattern, even if you put an image through an online pattern creator, the colors never, and I really mean never, come out correct. Normally they are pretty good, but hand-picking colors ALWAYS make the pattern better. The shade card not only has every color but blocks them out in color families, meaning you can compare the slight differences in each color with ease.

When you change a color in your cross stitch pattern

We recently posted a blog on changing colors on a cross stitch pattern and the first thing we say, is get a thread card. If you plan to change a color in your pattern you need to pick the exact color from the right family. For example, if your pattern has loads of deep colors, you want to make sure you pick a new color that is also dark, instead of something too bright that will stand out…

Red Bonsai Tree with shades broken out and replacement greens picked

When you don’t have the right color and you need to make a substitution

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had to make a substitution in the past. You don’t have all the threads, or the store is closed and you want to finish, well, what are you going to do? Pick a color and hope? A color card allows you to pick the perfect replacement to the one you own.

Changing hair/skin tones

We have two tools on the site a find a perfect skin tone thread guide and a find a perfect hair color thread guide however both of these use online representations of color. If you plan to pick hair/skin tones based on real-world examples, a color chart can allow you to compare the real hair/skin with the threads, so you get the PERFECT color, every time.

Skin Tone Cross Stitch Thread Table by Lord Libidan

When you want to match a DMC color to a different brand

There are loads of online guides on converting one brand from another, in fact, we have a massive 9 brand thread conversion chart on the site, however, picking your color isn’t always as simple as the table suggests. In reality, each brand has slightly different colors, and whilst tables like ours makes the job much easier to compare, your pattern might call for slightly different shades.

Buying threads online

Most people buy threads online now, and whilst that is great if you have a nice list of numbers to buy, it isn’t so great if you need a whole string of shades and you don’t know the numbers. Online representations are never correct, and as we’ve said up above, there are close images, the only way to see it, is a color card.

Matching embroidery threads to embelishments

I personally stick with just cross stitch and backstitch, but I know a lot of people who add beads and other things to their cross stitch. However, no one wants a bead in a weird color taking the focus away from your work. You want something that compliments. Take your shade card to the store and pick the perfect color beads and embellishments.

Matching the threads to something else

This is a slightly vague title, but let’s say you want a specific color aida so you don’t have to stitch massive background areas in, or you want to stitch on top of a painted object or want the threads to be in keeping with the theme of the room. How are you going to match them up? Sadly, the names for threads aren’t the names for aida or paint. Picking the right shade of aida might make your job a lot easier, but only if you get the right shade, otherwise it’s pointless.

Large Cross Stitch Art in a study (Source: CBC.ca)

Care instructions

I know, this one seems a little odd, right? Well sadly, this is something a lot of people miss out on. You see, not all threads are the same. Many have different care instructions. Whilst DMC have uniform care instructions across their brand, others don’t. This is often why you get rumors of running colors on cheaper embroidery threads. Don’t want your threads to run? Check the care instructions.

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  1. ulrika

    Perhaps also for the unorganized mind opening all of the colors, before I had a system (marked bobbins at the moment) – which now leaves a bowl full of random parts of skeins.. Ive actually thought to go through it and see how many I can “identify” if I had a chart to match but also realizez what this article said, that photos and screens sometimes alter the color!