Discover Floche! A Beautiful Cotton Embroidery Thread by DMC
by Mary Corbet
While DMC is well-known as the manufacturer of six-strand cotton embroidery floss, of quality pearl cottons and other needlework threads used for tatting, crochet, lace-making and the like, they also create the most beautiful fine cotton thread used for hand embroidery, called Floche a Broder, or simply floche (pronounced “flōsh”).
Floche is a somewhat obscure thread. Many embroiderers can go their whole stitching lives not even knowing that it exists! I’m convinced that, if stitchers discovered the beauty and elegance floche and experienced the ease of working with it, they would use it more often.
Today, I want to introduce you to floche and chat about the many ways it can be used in hand embroidery, hoping that you’ll give this exquisite cotton embroidery thread a try.
Floche is sold in large skeins of thread, and is available in 87 colors. It’s a fine, mercerized cotton thread with a high luster or sheen.
The label on a skein of floche indicates both the color number (which corresponds with the same colors as DMC embroidery floss) and the size of the thread, which is 16.
Each skein is 10 grams in weight and 168 yards long. That’s a lot of thread, and it goes a long way!
Compared to a more familiar skein of DMC embroidery floss, you can see that a skein of floche practically dwarfs a skein of floss.
One of the main differences between floche and regular embroidery floss is that floche is a non-divisible thread. This means that it is used as it comes off the skein, without separating it into smaller individual strands to work with, like you would with cotton embroidery floss.
Above, you can see one strand of floche, in pink, on the right. On the left is the complete six strands of DMC embroidery floss. You can see that floche is much finer than all six strands of floss together.
Floche is made up of five very fine plies of long staple, high-luster cotton, softly twisted into the one strand. It is this soft twist of the five plies that make floche so special. Because of the soft twist, the thread has a very nice spread when stitching, so that it covers well and remains smooth.
When lined up against one strand of DMC embroidery floss (in the center of the photo), floche is slightly heavier. When stitched, its coverage can be compared to 1.5 strands of embroidery floss.
How can floche be used in embroidery?
Even though floche is slightly heavier than one strand of embroidery floss, it is still a very fine thread and can be used for detailed embroidery of all kinds.
When it comes to surface embroidery, like the example above which is entirely stitched in floche, the thread handles all kinds of surface stitches well.
It makes beautiful line stitches, like stem stitch, chain stitch, and split stitch. And it is perfect for French knots and for other individual stitches like detached chain stitch.
Floche also works up into terrific fillings! In the example above, it is used to outline and fill the flower petals with split stitch and the flower center with padded satin stitch.
Unlike other threads which may be difficult to work in split stitch, floche makes a superb split stitch due of its soft twist and the fact that it is a single, non-divisible strand. If you have trouble working split stitch, try it with floche!
Floche is particularly pretty when filling a shaded area with long and short stitch, as shown in the petals in the photo above.
With three or more shades in the same color family, you can create a painted effect even in small spaces. The petals in the image above are approximately 3/8” long.
The stitch that really shows off the beauty, luster, and smoothness of floche to its very best, though, is the satin stitch. The tulip in the photo above is worked in a padded satin stitch.
To achieve this raised effect with satin stitch, first embroider a fine split stitch line using floche, right on top of the design line. Then, fill the center of the design area with long, random straight stitches, also using floche. Finally, stitch the top layer of satin stitch over the split stitch line, perpendicular to the straight stitch filling below the satin stitch.
The split stitch line helps maintain a nice, crisp edge on the satin stitch. The soft floche spreads just enough with each stitch to make a smooth, neat surface over all the padding. Satin stitch worked with floche glows with a soft luster, thanks to the mercerized cotton from which the thread is made.
What else can floche be used for?
Floche works well in counted embroidery techniques like counted cross stitch, on 18 - 28 count fabrics. On lower count fabrics, two strands of floche can be threaded in the needle at once, to achieve better coverage.
The disadvantage to using floche in counted work is that it is not available in a wide a color range like DMC embroidery floss, so if your project requires many colors and shades within color families, floche would not be your best option.
If you like to embroider pillow cases, kitchen towels, and other household items, floche works great! The colors available include many vibrant, fun colors suitable for all kinds of lively and trendy surface stitching styles.
Floche is also favored for traditional smocking techniques on children’s heirloom clothing.
Where can you find floche?
If you’d like to try floche on your own embroidery projects, you can find it available through fine needlework stores locally or online here (link www.hedgehoghandworks.com), or here (link www.vaune.com). Just ask for it! If your local shop doesn’t already carry it, but carries other DMC products, they may be able to special order it for you. Commonthread will be carrying Floche next year so stay tuned!
Floche is a great thread for broadening your stitching experiences. I hope you give it a try soon!