DMC vintage vs current floss

When I picked up stitching again after a decade hiatus I quickly heard about the idea that DMC’s embroidery floss had suffered a quality decline, even as it’s prices climbed. I accepted this at face value and moved on with the amazing Cosmo, only buying a DMC here and there as I thought needed. I haven’t yet really stitched with it again.

That said, I was recently gifted a small stash of vintage DMC floss when a friend of a friend passed away. (How honored I am to have been gifted this! The friend knew I would give it a good home. I shall.) The first thing I thought was genuinely that it did indeed look a good bit shinier and felt silkier.

Yep, I did.

Then last week I ran to the store to use up a birthday discount and purchased some DMC for a new project. I didn’t check the vintage against my list of floss already on hand, just purchased the whole list as a bundle. It was later that I realized that I had two of them cross over. Yep again! 4 skeins total, one set old and one set new, of two different colors. Well, now it’s time for a show down… don’t you think?

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Can you tell a difference? I thought I could at first, but then I realized it is like the old color trick where one color looks completely different when placed on a background of a different color. It’s a optical illusion!! The same thing seems to be happening with the DMC – the older label is not shiny at all, in fact it is quite a matte paper. The newest labels for DMC are now a very shiny plastic. This plastic doesn’t really enhance the natural shine on the floss, but the matte paper sure does. When set side by side without labels it becomes much harder. I have to admit I can’t really tell a difference between them. I asked a fellow stitcher and she, after examining them, couldn’t tell either.

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We then did a blind feel, I assumed that the vintage would be softer, silkier, and had her hand them to me in a way I couldn’t differentiate. I WAS able to pick out the softer one and declare it the vintage skein. I did this twice in a row. That said, I don’t think if I haven’t been a knitter or a stitcher using Cosmo, I don’t think I would have been able to tell them apart at all. It was a seriously subtle difference that could have been all in my head. Twice really isn’t a scientific sampling, that is for certain.

In the end, I think the differences have much more to do with the dye used. As I wound the new lot of floss I had purchased I did notice a huge difference between different colors. I know from speaking to yarn dyers and using yarns like Malabrigo that it is entirely possible for a yarn to change it’s hand with the dye that is applied. I sincerely wonder if that is what is going on here? (I have not noticed such a difference with Cosmo colors, for the record.) It seemed that in a color range, the deeper the color the rougher the floss, leaving the lightest colors quite smooth and nice to the touch.

So, my conclusion… no difference in quality, but maybe some of the dyes have changed? There were certainly color differences to the naked eye in the vintage and new skeins. I’ll stitch with them next and update you on the difference, if any. I’m doubting there will be much of one.

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Now, when I say vintage, I really don’t know how old this is. I can say it looks like what I used more than a decade ago.
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There are still a few paper labels to be found, but they are different. Here is a comparison:

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