The term pearl cotton floss is used a lot in connection to punch needle or other needle crafts, but what is it? In this post, I will explain what it is and compare it to 6 strand embroidery floss.
You might also have seen the term perle cotton floss. Pearl cotton floss and perle cotton floss are the same thread, just different spellings.
Pearl cotton thread comes in both small round balls and skeins. It can be commonly purchased in four different sizes or thicknesses of thread.
Pearl cottons are popular for many different types of needlework. They work well for cross stitch, embroidery, punch needle, crazy quilts, hand applique, and much more.
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Pearl Cotton Floss vs. Embroidery Floss Characteristics:
Pearl cotton floss is not made to be separated into individual strands like embroidery floss is.
With 6 strand embroidery floss, it is very easy to separate the skein into 6 strands of floss.
Each of the individual 6 strands in a skein of embroidery floss is a twisted two ply that cannot be easily separated. They are not made to be separated. You will just be in for heartache and wasted thread if you even try.
With 6 strand embroidery floss, you can use from 1 strand up to the entire 6 strands to complete your project, whether it is punch needle, cross stitch, embroidery, etc.
Pearl Cotton Floss:
The pearl cotton is also made with multiple plies, but it is NOT meant to be separated. It has been twisted together tightly and is meant to be used in the thickness it is.
Pearl Cotton Sizes:
DMC floss, which is widely available in craft stores, usually right next to the embroidery floss, makes pearl cotton floss in four different weights or thicknesses. They are No. 3, No. 5, No.8, and No. 12. The larger the number, the finer the thread will be.
- #12 pearl cotton is similar in size to 1-2 strands of embroidery floss.
- #8 pearl cotton is similar in size to 3 strands of embroidery floss.
- #5 pearl cotton is similar in size to 4-5 strands of embroidery floss.
- #3 pearl cotton is similar in size to 6 strands of embroidery floss.
Punch Needle with Pearl Cotton:
If you are doing punch needle with pearl cottons, size your needle to fit the thread.
Pearl Cotton Colors:
Pearl cotton floss comes in many different colors. In the DMC line, the color numbering system is the same on both pearl cottons and embroidery floss. This makes it easy to interchange one for another in a pattern.
You can also get variegated pearl cotton floss. I love the variegated floss from Valdani. They are a great way to add texture to a project.
Keep in mind that a finished project using pearl cotton floss might have a slightly different look than the same project completed with embroidery floss.
I did an experiment punching with 3 strands of floss compared to punching with #8 pearl cotton. The samples do look different even when punching with the same color floss. Punching with 3 strands looks fluffier than punching with #8. You can see the results in this post.
Be sure to check out our other punch needle tutorials.