Thread Bare

Cross-stitching and needlework

Review of DMC Mouliné Étoile Embroidery Thread

A new way to add a touch of sparkle to your stitching

Etoile, meaning ‘star’ in French, seems like a fitting name given to the new range of colors by DMC. They have taken 35 of their bestselling colors and given them a sparkly makeover. These threads make a fun addition to the DMC range.

But what are they like to work with and are they worth using? I’m going to stitch up some samples with a few of the colors and compare them to their regular color equivalents.

Mouliné Étoile floss shades

floss review

Comparison of Mouliné Étoile to regular DMC

5 Cross Stitch Floss Brands Compared

Deciding which thread to use

Most people that cross stitch are likely familiar with the DMC brand of floss. DMC is a highly successful and established manufacturer that has pretty much cornered the market for embroidery floss over the years but there are lots of other options which are worth looking at.

This is becoming increasingly important as prices go up, so a lot of people are looking for more affordable options. Here I am going to review and compare 5 brands of floss, DMC, Anchor, CXC, Sullivans & J&P Coats and show some stitched examples of each using their color equivalents of each brand side by side.

Floss comparison

floss review

Let's compare some threads!

Railroading Stitching Technique

Learn how to railroad your stitches

Often as you’re stitching you may find that your strands of floss seem to become twisted which can decrease coverage and sometimes make your stitches look uneven. It can cause knots and generally be very annoying! Usually to avoid this you need to drop your needle and let the thread hang and unwind every so often.

Another way to reduce the twisting of threads from happening is to use a technique called “Railroading”.

tutorial technique

Learn how to railroad your stitches!

Photo to Cross-Stitch Chart Conversion Options

Options available to make patterns from images

If you’re looking for a way to convert a photo or other image into a custom cross-stitch pattern the first thing to decide, is what software or service you’re going to use to do it.

It can seem like there are a bewildering number of different options available and it’s easy to run into the ‘paradox of choice’ where so many options make it difficult to pick one for fear of choosing the wrong one.

But don’t be put off - most really fall into just 3 main categories and we can show the pros and cons of each general approach in order to exclude some options before you try to focus on a specific product or service to use.

pattern conversion

Explore the options for image-to-pattern conversion

Photography for Cross-Stitchers

How to start with the right image

Many cross-stitchers start out with simple kits and eventually move on to full-coverage pieces but at some point decide that they would like their own totally unique and personal pattern by converting their own photograph into a cross-stitch chart.

Whether it’s a photo that captured a special moment in time, a picture of a loved one or a memento of a special pet, a custom chart created from your own image will be totally unique and bring back the treasured memories captured by it.

It’s very easy though to focus too much on the subject of such an image and not enough on the image itself but starting with a good picture is vital to getting a finished piece that you will treasure whether you are charting the image using software you have bought, using an online service to do the pattern conversion or paying someone to do it for you.

We’ll try and show you some basic ways to improve your images so that the patterns you generate from them will produce better results.

image conversion photo

Photography tips for cross-stitching

New Cross Stitch Pattern Store!

Easier navigation and faster performance

Let’s start with a confession … the previous store was, well, it was bad. We initially focused on our image-to-chart conversion app for people wanting to do custom pattern conversion and only added a handful of pre-made patterns as an afterthought. As there were only a few of them it worked fine having a single page with them all on. Categories? Who needs categories when you can see all 8 patterns at once!

But as we added more and more patterns, the store part got slower and s-l-o-w-e-r and s…l…o…w…e…r. Frankly, it was a bit of an embarrassment so we didn’t really promote it much even though we have some really great patterns in there and some kick-ass features such as the real mockup previews.

Now we’ve finally got round to doing a revamp to improve it. Check out our new cross-stitch pattern store and let us know what you think!


features of our new cross-stitch pattern store

Cross-Stitching to Diamond Painting

Two crafts with lots of overlap

We all love our cross-stitching but it can represent a serious investment of time, effort and materials - although the results are often amazing and well worth it.

Diamond Painting is a newer craft that has a lot of similarities to cross-stitching and can even use the same patterns but produces results a lot faster.

We’ll try to show you the similarities and differences between the two and how to get started with the hobby.


Learn how to get started Diamond Painting

One Year Anniversary of

Our first year in review

We started thread-bare just over a year ago as a husband and wife combo team. It began as a collaboration because I’d developed some blogging software that I was using for my own technical / programming blog and my wife was a stitcher that wanted a project to work on beyond the stitching itself. She was the one that came up with the great name and our blog was born - it’s been quite a journey since then!

Read about our first year blogging

Why a Clear Cross-Stitch Pattern is Important

Format matters as much as the charting

When purchasing a cross-stitch pattern (or complete kit) the thing that people tend to focus on most is the image. It makes sense because it is, after all, really what we’re buying - the completed piece that the pattern enables us to produce that we can hang on our wall.

The pattern is the guide to help us get there and the quality of the pattern can really define how difficult or enjoyable that journey is in the same way that you might get to the same place whether you have a clear and easy to follow map as if you have a confusing and unclear one, but one journey will be far more frustrating with the latter.

There is always the risk that if the map is too bad and leads to us making too many mistakes (taking too many detours and retracing our steps) then we may just give up on the adventure leaving a piece to languish in a draw, a waste of effort and materials.

So what makes a good cross stitch chart?


What to look for in a Cross-Stitch Pattern

Tips for Successful Stitching While Travelling

Making best use of travel time to stitch

For many of us, travelling can be the perfect excuse to spend some solid time on our stitching but it needs to be practical and doable. You also need to ensure you are not going to run into a problem with airport security if you are flying or have any other disasters such as losing equipment or materials or the entire project!

Top tips for stitching while travelling