Confused when it comes to correctly selecting embroidery silk or floss for your project? You are not alone. Victorian ladies felt the same way. Corticelli included the following article in almost every Corticelli Home Needlework magazine they published. While it does discuss the different types of silks the company produced and what the primary uses for these silks are in embroidery, the reader had to read a thinly veiled Corticelli ad to find the information they wanted.
The article below has been slightly edited for use on this site but does contain much of the exact wording as when it was published in 1898, therefore, these exact products may not be easily found today. You will need to take the description of each type of silk and substitute it with products available now. (Yes, you probably knew that but I do get a lot of email asking where items mentioned in an article can be purchased as the reader can’t find them in a store. If you are looking for the exact product listed in an article, check out E-bay or sites like that, where you may find them at reasonable prices; other items can be very expensive or non-existent.)
I know original cards from many of the silk manufactures can be found on E-bay as I have purchased a few to with selecting embroidery silk for my project ... future projects, that is. So many exciting ideas, so little time!
Corticelli Home Needlework, 1898
Often the most difficult task for many women is choosing the proper
shades of silk to embroider a certain stamped linen. Usually the dealer
from whom you purchase your Corticelli Silk will advise you in regard to
this, but when one lives in one of the smaller towns no store will be
found which carries a good stock of embroidery materials from which to
make a selection.
In this case the best thing to do is to send six 2 cent stamps to the Nonotuck Silk Co,, Bridge Street, Florence, Mass., for a Corticelli Color Card, showing over 325 different shades in which Corticelli Wash Silk is made. The card also shows samples of the various silks, as Filo Silk, Roman Floss, Persian Floss etc.
The owner of a Color Card can order by number Corticelli Silk from her
storekeeper, either by mail or in person. Few realize what a convenience
this is to use in selecting embroidery silk of the proper colors and
Many do not understand the great difference in embroidery silks, and often inferior kinds are sold them by unscrupulous clerks. Corticelli Silk is smooth working, of high luster, and is free from imperfections in stock or finish, while the dyes used are remarkable for brilliancy and absolute fastness of color. Magnificent mills, modern machinery, and sixty years experience in manufacturing silk enable the Nonotuck Silk Company to produce as perfect embroidery silk and floss as can be made.
Many realize only too late that they should have been more careful in buying the right brand of Wash Silk. The old saying, " The best is always the cheapest," comes back to those who have had some disappointing experience with a patiently worked centerpiece or doily which failed to stand the final test — the test of washing. Corticelli Silk took the highest award at the Cotton States and International Exposition held at Atlanta, Ga., 1895, as well as first prize at the Chicago World's Fair, 1893, and at the California Midwinter Exposition, 1894. Besides this we call your attention to the large number of well known needlework authorities that recommend its use. These facts alone should induce you to give Corticelli a trial in case you have never done so.
For fine and delicate shading on any smooth closely woven material, especially linen, use Corticelli Filo Silk (sometimes called Filo Floss). Owing to its fine size and loose twist a skillful worker can blend the shades with the utmost nicety, so that flowers, leaves, fruits, or other objects are most faithfully reproduced.
Corticelli Persian Floss is a silk of two strands, loosely twisted and of high luster, for work where two threads of Filo would ordinarily be required. Persian Floss is used extensively for the buttonhole edges of doilies and centerpieces, first padding the scallops with a few stitches or the buttonhole edge may be worked without padding as desired. Corticelli Filo Silk and Corticelli EE Embroidery Silk are also sometimes used for this work.
Corticelli Roman Floss is somewhat coarser than Corticelli Persian Floss and is intended for embroidering large designs on heavier material. Curtains, counterpanes, and cushions are worked with this thread, although for very bold designs Corticelli Rope Silk is preferable.
Corticelli Etching Silk, as its name implies, is for outline embroidery and etching.
Corticelli Lace Embroidery Silk should be used for Honiton and lace work of similar nature.
Corticelli EE Embroidery Silk is best suited for general fancy work and crazy patchwork. This silk is quite hard twisted and is therefore very durable.
Almost every major silk company had their own embroidery book. Brainerd & Armstrong, which eventually merged with Corticelli in 1922, also had their own line of silks as well as a color card to help with selecting embroidery silk. Here are the names of their types of embroidery silks for comparison: Embroidery Silks and Flosses.
Return to top of Hints on Selecting Embroidery Silk page.
Return to Hand Embroidery page.