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Smocking with Different Threads

In the Stitcher's Circle as we were about to begin the May Garden dress, (by the way, registration is now open for the Honey Stitch Along if you are interested!) one of the members asked me about smocking on knits with floche. Another member wanted to know about using pearl cotton. I grabbed a knit doodle cloth (where does that name come from - I have no idea?) and stitched up a sample to test out the different threads. While I was at it, I also grabbed a batiste doodle cloth and used the same threads and the basic cable stitch to see what results I would get.

So first up on a knit:

I tried 3 strands of floche, 2 strands of floche, 1 strand of #8 pearl cotton, 2 strands of Coton a Broder, 3 strands of Coton a Broder and 4 strands of floss. Knits are chunky with full pleats, so I always recommend 4 strands of floss even for a geometric smocking design to help get better coverage. Here are the same threads on a batiste:

There is no right or wrong when it comes to thread choice. It is a matter of preference and the look that you want to achieve. But for what its worth, here are my thoughts. Floche is a lovely and soft thread. It has a soft bloom and is used for lovely embroidery. When using it for smocking, it is not as sturdy and so may be a thread you might choose to use for a special garment that isn't going to get as much wear and laundering. I didn't like the look of the 3 strands on either the batiste or knit. I thought they were too plump and distorted the look of the stitch. According to the DMC website, 1 strand of floche is the equivalent of 1 1/2 strands of floss, so 2 strands of floche is the same as 3 strands of floss, but 3 strands of floche is the same as 4 1/2 strands of floss. The 2 strands looks lovely on the batiste, but a little skimpy on the knit. The pearl cotton also looks skimpy on the knit. I know many smockers who use it on batiste especially for Wee Care gowns, and while I think that it doesn't give as full of coverage as the floss, it has a lovely sheen and the more delicate look can be very appropriate on smaller baby items.

Coton a Broder is another DMC cotton thread that may not be as well known, but has a firmness to it so that it launders well. You can read about it in this post from DMC. Again the 3 strands seems to overwhelm the batiste and doesn't allow you to see the individual stitches. The 2 strands looks lovely on the batiste. For the knit, the 2 strands were again skimpy, and the 3 seemed like too much. For the knit, my preference was the 4 strands of floss. It provided nice coverage, but still allowed the individual stitches to show. On the batiste, 3 strands of floss, 2 strands of coton a broder and 2 strands of floche were all lovely.


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