Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Stripping" your Floss

Cotton Floss

I never thought floss could have a wrong way and a right way to be inserted into fabric until recently.  Did you know that floss has a nap (rough side) and no nap (smooth side)?  It makes a difference which way you insert it into your fabric....

Have you ever been frustrated because your thread kept getting tangled and knotted?  Did your finished stitches seem tight and not fluffy?  It's all about how you "strip your floss"!


This method is for DMC or Anchor floss,  a 6 strand or ply fiber. The fibers are twisted around each other in the manufacturing process.  Stitches made with thread that has been "stripped" or untwisted results in prettier handwork that allows the light to reflect of of the now flatter threads in your project!

After cutting an 18"  length of floss  ( I usually measure from my wrist to my elbow) from the skein and before stripping it, notice how the end behaves.

Is it frayed open or "blossomed" or is it still wound tightly and intact?  The blossomed end is typically the "nap" side of your floss.  In other words, it has a grain or can be rougher coming through your finer fabrics such as batiste.  Close your eyes and run your fingers down the length of your floss.  Is it rough or prickly?  Start at the opposite end, close your eyes and run your fingers down the length of floss again.  Is it smooth?  I've learned that threading my needle with the "no nap" or smooth floss going into my fabric creates prettier stitches and less knotting.  So you KNOT the "blossom" end.

checking for napHolding the floss between your thumb and index finger, use the other hand to lightly tap or rub the end and "blossom" the threads to make it easier to separate.  Still holding the floss in one hand, use the other to grab only one of the six tiny threads that were wound together.  Pull that one thread through your thumb and forefinger.



Continue until all six strands are separated or "stripped".





Then, based on the stitches you will be using, put the threads back together.


For back smocking- use 2 threads

For geometric smocking- use 3 threads

For picture smocking- use 4 threads




DSC_0164Depending on the project I have going, I strip my floss and then regroup them accordingly.  I wind them around two fingers and lay them in my handy altoid tin that I keep my needles and scissors in.




Happy Stripping!



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