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Matte embroidery cotton or coton à broderis embroidery thread which has a dull sheen. Other types of cotton embroidery thread may be specially treated so that they are extremely glossy and slick. Matte threads can be used for contrast or in work which is intended to have a more old-fashioned look. You shouldn't let the “matte” confuse you, however, as matte embroidery cotton still has some sheen and texture, and when worked well it will glow in the finished piece.
Typically, matte embroidery cotton is made from five strands of thread which are twisted together to form a single piece. For very fine embroidery or detail work, some people unravel these threads, or they combine individual threads from multiple skeins to create a multicolored single strand. Like other forms of embroidery cotton or floss, it comes in bundled skeins which are neatly folded to minimize the risk of entanglement.
There are a number of different choices available at most craft stores when it comes to embroidery thread. In addition to cotton, crafters can find threads made from other plants, or using animal materials like silk and wool. Many stores also carry synthetic embroidery floss. In all cases, a range of colors are available to meet a wide variety of needs. Many craft stores keep some of their embroidery thread in storage, so if you don't see the color or style you want, be sure to ask. Staffers can also help you pick out fabrics to embroider, along with needleworking tools to make the process easier.
For people who are concerned about the environmental effects of cotton harvesting and processing, some companies make organic or natural matte embroidery cotton which is processed in an Earth-friendly way. These companies may offer naturally or synthetically dyed thread. Natural dyes tend to be more somber and muted, although some can be very rich and lush. Artificial dyes are more bright, with deep saturation and brilliant, eye-catching hues.
When purchasing matte embroidery cotton, try to predict how many skeins of each color you will need, and buy them at the same time. This minimizes the risk of getting embroidery thread from different dye lots, which could cause glaring color differences in the finished piece. You may also want to consider using a segmented drawer or tackle box to organize your embroidery thread so that your skeins do not get jumbled.