Comparing different types of embroidery floss for stem wrapping

I’ve just published a tutorial for wrapping your French Beaded Flower stems with floss. I’ve done a tutorial on this on my previous Lauren’s Creations website, but finally found the time to update it here. There is also more and updated information than what I had published previously. You can find that tutorial here.

To go along with the updated tutorial, I thought it would be nice to do a blog post on different types of embroidery floss. There are many kinds that can be used for flossing your stems, more than what I’m showing here. I’ll be going over and showing examples of these: silk, satin, cotton, metallic, and color variations.



Silk thread is the traditional thread used to wrap stems. Silk is a fancier thread to use because it’s shinier, feels nicer, and you don’t need to divide or untwist it while you wrap in order to get a smooth and slender stem. But it is more expensive. In fact, it’s the most expensive type of thread I’m going to cover. And because it is thinner, it takes more floss and more time to cover the same area.

You want to get the flat, untwisted silk threads for best results. You do need to handle and store this thread carefully. My hands are somewhat rough from years of working with wire, so the thread gets shredded and ends up looking fuzzy on the stem, which is one reason why I don’t use it more often.


Satin thread is a cheaper way to get a similar look to silk thread. It is shiny, shinier than it shows in the pictures, but not as shiny as silk. It is more expensive than the regular cotton, but much more economical than silk. It’s a little weird to work with, but wraps quickly. I generally don’t divide it unless I’m working on something small. When working with this thread, you’ll need to untwist the thread to make all the strands sit flat beside each other as you wrap.

I like the look of satin floss, but need to find a different brand that has more shades of green. DMC just has two. Suggestions welcome!


The most readily available type of embroidery floss that I use in my French Beaded Flowers is the regular cotton variety. This floss comes in loads of colors, so you can easily pick the right greens or browns that you need for your flowers.

It normally comes as a skein with the thread carefully coiled and folded with a paper wrapper.

This type of embroidery thread is actually 6 individual strands twisted together. When working with this thread, I generally recommend dividing the thread so there are just 3 strands, especially if the flower you are making has more slender stems. Using the full 6 strands will thicken the stems, and it is harder to get a smooth and flat surface. Using 3 strands instead solves both of those problems, though it will take longer to wrap the stems. When working with this thread, you’ll need to untwist the thread to make all the strands sit flat beside each other as you wrap.


Metallic threads are really neat. They have a bit of sparkle to them. DMC calls the ones I’m using here “Light Effects”. One downside is the limited colors – only two shades of green. It isn’t smooth floss, so if you use this to wrap your flower stems, there will be some texture added.

I do not divide this thread. It just seems like it would tangle very badly if I tried. It’s also a little unwieldy to work with because the thread isn’t soft, but it is pretty and sparkly. When working with this thread, you’ll need to untwist the thread to make all the strands sit flat beside each other as you wrap.

Color Variations

Color Variations is a type of cotton floss made by DMC that has multiple colors blended together on one thread. I thought it would be fun to give this kind of floss a trial to see how it would affect the stems. The idea was that since flower stems sometimes get darker or lighter in some areas, using a thread that was multiple colors would be more realistic. This particular one I picked is more subtle than the others, which is why I picked it. It didn’t quite create the look I was imagining, but it may prove useful in other projects so I’m including it here mostly for fun.


I’m sure there are other types of floss you can use! Take a look around and try a few more. I know that some people use very thin wire (30-32 gauge) to wrap their stems as well. The method would be the same.

New Flower Patterns

Miniature Iris Pattern

One thing I actually got to finish is something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I started working on some Bearded Irises for an upcoming pattern, but then Barbara Keute posted pictures of her micro Irises in our FRENCH BEADED FLOWERS Facebook group. Tiny flowers are just so cute I couldn’t resist the call to make miniatures.

Luckily, miniatures do not take very much time to make or design at all. I started this piece on a Sunday, and by that Wednesday I had the pattern ready for publishing. That’s not normal! It was kind of really cool to get something finished that quickly. You can purchase a copy of the pattern here.

Miniature French Beaded Iris pattern by Lauren Harpster

Miniature French Beaded Iris pattern by Lauren Harpster

Miniature French Beaded Iris pattern by Lauren Harpster

This last picture shows some irises with multiple colors, and an Iris made using size 11/0 following *almost* the same pattern as the 15/0 version. The pattern does include notes about using 11/0 instead of 15/0.

One reason I’ve published this pattern is to test how well miniature patterns are received. I know using 15/0 seed beads can sound a little scary for some, especially if you’re used to  bead weaving, which is so much more tedious in my limited bead weaving experience. However, I don’t personally find using 15/0 for French Beading any harder than using 11/0. You don’t have to count individual beads most of the time, so it’s not as much of a strain on the eyes as picking up one bead at a time and sewing it on. String the beads on the wire and wrap a whole row at a time. Just make sure you have good lighting! A miniature sized bead spinner would also come in handy, since they work best when they are at least half full and it would take a crap ton of size 15/0 seed bead to fill a standard spinner.

Since I’ve been in a holding pattern with recording videos (I keep losing my voice plus so many other absurd happenings) I spent a little time testing other miniature patterns. So if you guys like the miniatures, let me know and I’ll make more.

French Beaded Azalea Pattern

I made this piece last August and it was originally going to be published in my next book. However, I’ve been re-evaluating what I want to put in the book, and this one got cut in favor of other projects that I want in the book more. I don’t want to have to charge $50 for my next book, and I also don’t want to compromise on the number of pictures, so I have to trim down the size a little. So, this pattern has been released as a PDF instead.

The pattern contains instructions for making an Azalea branch, as well as making the full topiary. See more information and purchase your copy here.

French Beaded Azalea Pattern by Lauren Harpster

French Beaded Azalea Pattern by Lauren Harpster

I hope you guys have had a better winter than I have had. It’s been complete chaos here and I’m trying my best to get caught up. Happy beading to you all!

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