Before you click off of this article because you have already seen a dozen other articles listing discontinued DMC numbers — I have stitched samples! There are plenty of lists of discontinued DMC threads and suggestions for alternatives. But how close are the replacements really? What if you’re out of the replacement color too? Is there a second option? What about discontinued Light Effects? And Variegated thread? These are the kinds of things I’d like to answer today. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.
This is a long article. So feel free to use the table of contents to skip to the lists you’re interested in.
Table of Contents
Why Colors Get Discontinued
I have yet to find an official source to confirm exactly why these threads got discontinued. There are plenty of rumors, and we can make educated guesses in the meantime. But if you have an official source explaining it, please let me know!
Possible reasons colors have been discontinued:
- They didn’t sell well enough
- They were too close to other colors and thus unnecessary
- Dyes that were used are no longer available or more expensive
- Fabric dye and manufacturing regulations changed
For example, I had an opportunity to ask Dena from Kreinik about some of their discontinued threads. They unfortunately had to discontinue their glow in the dark blue and purple threads because the manufacturers they use no longer make the raw materials they need to produce it. These things happen.
Discontinued DMC vs Simply Hard to Find
Let’s distinguish between actually being discontinued and just being hard to find. Online the 3880-3896 color pack was being referred to as “discontinued” almost as soon as it was released!
For the longest time this pack was only available as a pack, not in single skeins. As such, it was often overlooked. Do people actually look at the packs and miscellaneous products floating above the loose skein shelves? When this pack came out in 2013 it certainly didn’t seem like it, as most people couldn’t seem to find them unless someone specifically told them to look for the pack.
It wasn’t until much later that they were finally available as single skeins. And even then only in some regions.
I believe these have since been officially discontinued, as only a few of the colors are still available through the DMC site. But this is something to watch out for when discussing discontinued products of any sort. Hard to find doesn’t necessarily mean discontinued, it ust may not sell well enough for all retailers to bother stocking it. Or maybe not as many were produced.
Where to Find Discontinued DMC Threads
Discontinued doesn’t mean you can’t buy them! Just that DMC is no longer making more. They can still be found in a number of shops, including the DMC website. However, once they’ve sold out they will not be restocked.
Other shops might have backstock of these colors still. You can find the 2013 pack on Fat Quarter Shop, for example. They have singles of discontinued DMC threads as well. Keep in mind the more popular shops and sites are more likely to be out of these colors by now. But don’t be afraid to look around for these colors, they’re still out there! Check your local LNS as well!
The other way people sometimes end up with discontinued DMC colors is by getting second hand thread stashes. Maybe you’ve inherited some from a friend or family member, or you’ve picked up some thread boxes at a thrift store. It’s possible some of those threads have since been discontinued. So make sure you know before you accidentally use it all up mid project and need to find a replacement to finish what you’re working on!
Dye Lots / Aging Issues
Ok, the dreaded “dye lots” get a bad rap. Major companies like DMC are pretty good (but not perfect) at matching colors between dye lots, so most of the time you won’t notice unless there are decades between your skeins. (As evidenced by the very different labeling styles above) However age and storage conditions can definitely also affect colors differently.
Even if you do find a skein of a discontinued DMC color in order to finish that project, it may have been exposed to the sun more. It may have come from a home that had smokers. Maybe it sat in a dusty attic in an unsealed box and went through cycles of humidity, heat, and cold.
And the same goes for the ‘replacement’ numbers. It will always be difficult to find an EXACT replacement. And my stitched examples may be different from your own.
But hopefully we can help you at least get close if you’re following an old pattern that still references these discontinued DMC threads. Or maybe your pattern program still has these colors and has suggested them to you for your latest design.
Photos vs Real Colors of Thread
I really need to mention this before we get into the next section. I know we see it everywhere, “colors may appear different from monitor to monitor”, but seriously. Photos won’t have the right colors to begin with even on the most optimal monitor. Even beyond just dye lots.
I do not recommend color picking based on photos of thread, you’re in for a bad time. Below, I will make EVERY effort to make my photos as close to my threads as I can, and test it on a number of monitors and phones. But they are still not 100% accurate, and if you have any of these colors in real life you will notice the difference right away. Same goes for printed color cards.
For example, here’s 5 different photos of 3760 (often cited as the best replacement for 806) as pulled from various online shops. All the same color. Probably different dye lots and ages and lighting and histories. I didn’t edit colors at all here, I just cropped the background if it wasn’t already, and laid them out side by side. If you google “DMC 3760” you’ll likely find these same images. But look how different they are!
I’m not going to claim MY photos are any more accurate than these. What I’m going for here is simply showing stitched swatches of the discontinued DMC colors with the recommended replacement colors next to them. With photos taken in the same lighting and everything. So you can see how different they are from each other on average.
I took my photos with a Nikon D3000 under controlled studio lighting on a neutral background. And I scanned in swatches using my Canon G6000 at 600 dpi. But they are not perfect. So keep that in mind.
Discontinued colors are listed in older patterns sometimes. And the 2013 set is often still referenced even in modern patterns. Heck, I still had some discontinued colors in my patterns until February 2022 when I finally redid ALL my pattern PDFs and went out of my way to update these discontinued colors.
And yes, some of them are still referenced in my Stardew Valley Cross Stitch book. Sorry. 🙁
One thing I noticed while replacing them in my patterns is that I often already had the replacement color in the pattern. So I had to find a secondary replacement that worked within the design. Usually lighter or darker than the normal replacement color.
This is why I won’t just be listing the colors most commonly recommended for replacements. I’ll include a SECOND replacement I’ve picked out myself. These will be maybe a little darker or lighter than the discontinued threads. Or may lean a slightly different hue. They may be not be as close a match as the “recommended” match. However, if you’re replacing the color entirely it won’t be noticeable. in other words, they’re not for finishing a project you’ve already started with the discontinued color.
Label your Discontinued Threads!
One last note before we get to the replacements. You’ll notice below that I have a star sticker on my discontinued bobbins. This is to remind me that the color is discontinued while picking colors for a design. If I’m making a pattern for sale, I want to avoid using them.
If I’m making something just for myself, I want to make sure I have enough for the entire project. So I’m not having to substitute partway through.
I definitely recommend somehow marking your discontinued threads! This will help you out in the long run.
Replacement Suggestions – 2013 New Colors Pack
3887 is the only one I don’t have a full skein of because I bought a second pack when I ran out of that purple. Purples are notoriously hard to color match because there’s not that many purples in the DMC lineup to begin with, so this was an especially hard blow when I learned it was discontinued. There is no good replacement for 3887 and several of these others but I’ll do my best!
Since the 2013 threads were relatively recently discontinued, they still get mentioned in digital patterns fairly frequently. These are easily the ones I’ve seen the most questions about, so that’s why we’re starting here.
Again, I’ve included two replacement suggestions here. The first being the most commonly recommended online, which you’ve likely seen in other listings. The second being simply another color that is close. In case you can’t find/don’t have that first color either.
If you’re curious why the table header is labeled “Disco” it’s because if I make it any longer, the table gets cut off on mobile. 😅
Now, let’s take a look at how close these replacements really are to the discontinued DMC colors.
Discontinued DMC 2013 Colors – Stitched Swatches
Seeing colors on bobbins is one thing, but sometimes colors just look different once stitched. So let’s test them that way, too.
First off, here are some swatches so you can see what shape I have them in before I stitch around them with color matches. Again, these are not perfect, I have tried to color adjust in photoshop but my abilities are limited and it really wants to compensate for that off white aida. That 3894? That is more of a classic Nickelodeon slime green in real life. You can see it better in the skein photo. The more yellowy hued slime from the original, not the neon green from more modern Nick… am I aging myself here? You get the idea. Let’s just move on.
I then stitched to their left in the color most frequently mentioned online as being the closest replacement for these colors.
Finally, to the right I stitched using colors I picked myself from my collection (without using the ones already recommended). For some of these, I feel like this second choice looks closer to the original, and for others I agree with the internet recommendations. That may boil down to dye lots, but it mostly just shows that color picking is hard. 🤣
And to give a different view of these same swatches, here they are as my scanner sees them. A little more contrast makes it easier to see some of the saturation differences. Though the hues look very different than they would in real life.
Replacement Suggestions – DMC Cottons
Now these are the other discontinued DMC cotton colors out there.
And here’s how they look in bobbin form all next to each other under the same lighting.
Discontinued DMC Cottons – Stitched Swatches
As many of you have learned, colors like to somehow look differently stitched vs on a bobbin, so I stitched up some swatches of each of these as well!
I then stitched the common replacement suggestions to the left of each of them so you can see whether you can make out out the vague outline of the star.
Finally, I found a second color for each of these and stitched it to the right. The only one that really stands out at me as different are the replacements for 806. The original 806 color is much more teal than any colors I could find. Even the recommended color is a bit too blue. But it’s honestly the closest I could find in my complete set of DMC.
Lastly, I wanted to show subtle differences as best I could so I used my scanner at the highest DPI it would let me. While the hues in the photos are closer to real life, the scan really shows the subtle changes between some of the colors.
You can see a bit better what I mean about the teal-ness of 806.
And you can see slight hue shifts between the colors if you’re REALLY looking for it.
That said, in a final piece it honestly won’t be as noticeable. Only to you. Because you know and are actively looking for it.
The Mystery Behind DMC 868
If you’ve checked out other lists of discontinued DMC threads you may have seen an 868 listed. Usually recommending 801 as a replacement. However, I haven’t been able to find photos or even mention of this mysterious 868 color outside of online lists of discontinued DMC threads.
I did find an Anchor 868. Maybe it got mixed into someone’s stash and mistaken for DMC. But that’s much lighter in color than 801.
I thought perhaps it was a typo. It would have to a be a brown, since the replacement is 801. But 898 and 838 are both very different from 801. And are also not discontinued.
Did DMC 868 Ever Exist?
I then reached out to the Pixel Stitch discord server to see if anyone had any ideas. One user even reached out to DMC via email and got back the response “Color # 868 is not and has not been a DMC color number.”
Mystery solved. Sort of. At least we don’t have to try and track down a skein. We still don’t know where it came from.
I have to assume this was a mistake and it’s just been routinely copied and pasted around the internet, because I’ve seen it on half of the lists I referenced while making this article. Perhaps someone was bobbining a whole bunch of skeins and was holding their 898 upside down while they were labeling. Later, when they went to refill that bobbin they couldn’t find 868 and assumed it was discontinued.
Or maybe it was a modern day “trap street” designed to suss out which people were just copying straight from their blog.
For now, we’ve simply given it cryptid status amongst our community. It’s no cone of doom, but it’s ours. 🤣 If you have any information on this mysterious color, please do join us on the discord and let us know! There’s been a lot of curious people investigating this ‘cryptid’.
Winnie the Pooh and DMC 724
While investigating 868, we also found that a 724 was created specifically for some old officially licensed Winnie the Pooh kits by Designer Stitches. That color was only ever included in those specific kits.
If you’re working from those old kits, or have stumbled across some questionably obtained scans of Winnie the Pooh patterns and are wondering where DMC 724 is… it was never sold separately.
You’ll have to pick whatever color you feel is closest to Winnie the Pooh yellow for your stitching. Perhaps 725 or 743.
Is this what happened with 868? Maybe. I’m not sure what would require a very specific shade of brown, or who besides D*sney would care so much about the accuracy of their character to pay extra to have a very specific color thread dyed for some cross stitch kits. But it’s at least a possibility. Moving on…
Hard to Find Specialty Threads
Similar to the 2013 colors pack, there are a number of light effects packs out there. When I was researching for my bobbin stickers I found there were a number of light effects colors I didn’t have and hadn’t seen listed elsewhere. Only in these packs.
For most, I couldn’t find them listed anywhere as singles. And several of these packs are out of stock in a lot of the more popular shops I looked at. So naturally I went out of my way to buy the packs that I didn’t already have. Wherever I could find them. And then, I took a bunch of aesthetically pleasing skein photos of them before winding them on bobbins. Like you do.
So while I don’t know if these are technically discontinued or just hard to find, I wanted to list them here. Where possible, I’ve included suggestions for replacements based on my relatively small Kreinik collection. I then reached out to Kreinik directly for some help color matching those I wasn’t sure about. Due to the variegation in these colors, the replacements aren’t quite exact, but are still gorgeous metallic colors with similar visual weight to them.
Classical Blends Light Effects Collection
- E133 – Midnight Madness -> No good match. There’s Kreinik 042L, but it’s also been discontinued, and is lighter.
- E136 – Emerald Isle -> Kreinik 5982 Forest Green
- E144 – Majestic Metals -> Kreinik 002L Chromo Gold or Kreinik 3250 Adventurine
- E148 – Purple Essence -> Kreinik 1223 Passion Plum (no variegated flecks though)
- E150 – Deep Water Blue -> Kreinik 044 (which is more teal) or Kreinik 3506 (but no no variegation)
- E152 – Pink Shimmer -> Kreinik 007L Power Pink
Why yes, I DID swatch light effects for you. If you’ve ever worked with this stuff… don’t worry, I used thread conditioner and did no more than two stars in any one sitting.
They’re pretty busy due to the variegation though. Didn’t seem to matter whether I stitched single stitches or stitched danish style.
You’ll also note E152 is on there twice. That’s my bad. The bottom right one is E154. I fix it when I do the Kreinik swatches.
Edit Dec 2022: I now have the colors recommended by Kreinik! Here’s what they look like on the spool next to the DMC bobbins.
And what they look like stitched! Not all are perfect matches, as the variegation on these made it a bit tricky. But this is what we come up with! The Kreinik 5982, Kreinik 3250, and Kreinik 044 are probably the closest.
Why do I take the photos at an angle? It’s the best way to show off the sparkle. Being slightly out of the focus is the best way to convey how sparkly these are in person. Though it still doesn’t quite do them justice. They’re gorgeous.
DMC Light Effects – Blended Favorites
- E131 Holiday Sparkle -> Kreinik 3250 Aventurine
- E138 – Caribbean Ripples -> Kreinik 044 (lighter) or Kreinik 3506 Blue Samba (but no variegation)
- E140 – Carnivale Fun -> Kreinik 033L Royal Blast (but no variegation)
- E141 – All That Jazz -> Kreinik 024L Fiery Fuchsia (but no variegation)
- E146 – Tropical Delight -> Kreinik 002L Chromo Gold or Kreinik 3250 Adventurine
- E154 – Opalescent Rays -> Kreinik 9294 Periwinkle (but no gold, and much lighter)
And here’s what my scanner thinks these colors look like… A bit less sparkly, but you can kinda see the variegation better.
Edit Dec 2022: I now have the Kreinik spools! Here’s what they look like next to the DMC bobbins.
And what they look like scanned in. Remember to scroll up to see a photo version of these swatches
Fluorescents Light Effects Collection
Rather than metallic, these feel more like the DMC Satins. But are labeled using the “E” numbering so are referred to as Light Effects. Don’t worry, I’m confused too.
- E980 – Neon Yellow
- E990 – Neon Green
- E1010 – Tropical Pink
- E1020 – Bright Orange
- E1040 – Electric Blue
- E1050 – Luminous Lavender
Tropical Neon Glow Light Effects
This one I want to preface by saying it is NOT glow in the dark thread. DMC only has the white to green glow thread E940. I say this, because apparently there was some confusion here. The box says “Glow” on it, so some people thought this meant Glow in the Dark. To be clear, they’re just vibrant neon colors with a silky finish. They’re shiny, for sure. But not nearly as bright as the above Fluorescents set.
- E985 – Lemon Zest
- E995 – Melon Blast
- E987 – Key Lime Splash
- E1024 – Tangerine Zing
- E1026 – Blueberry Blast
- E1055 – Raspberry Rush
For fun, I did take a photo of the Neon Glow set (bottom) and the Flourescents set (top) under a blacklight. While they don’t glow in the dark, some of them are UV reflective, which could make for some neat blacklight art!
That said, only E987, E995, and E1024 from the Tropical glow pack is super reflective. And E980, E990, and E1010 from the Flourescents set.
Light Effects Pearlescent Collection
These pearlescent colors I already had prior to my shopping spree, so they were already on bobbins. Not quite as satisfying to photograph, but you get the idea. I believe these were all purchased individually, so probably not as hard to find.
As far as I can tell, the singles are still available fairly easily. However the PACK is much harder to find. So maybe just the pack was discontinued. If you were wondering which colors were included in said pack though, here’s the list.
- E211 – Lilac
- E746 – Cream
- E747 – Baby Blue
- E818 – Soft Pink
- E966 – Lime
- E3747 – Sky Blue
Holiday Collection Light Effects
This pack is still listed on the DMC site. They’re also listed as individual skeins. I don’t think it has been discontinued quite yet.
However, since I had a hard time finding a list of what came in said pack, I’m still including them here for the sake of completion. DMC packs never seem to last, so it’s probably only a matter of time before they discontinue this pack as well. For now, it doesn’t seem like these colors are going anywhere at least.
- E130 – Gemstones
- E321 – Red Ruby
- E699 – Green Emerald
- E825 – Blue Sapphire
- E3821 – Light Gold
- E5200 – White
Renumbered Threads – Light Effects Precious Metals
Some threads have simply been renumbered over the years and not technically discontinued. I couldn’t find a ton of information on these, so this list may not be complete. If you know of some I’m missing please let me know!
The main ones I could find are the Light Effects Precious Metals threads. If an old pattern calls for one of these 5000 series numbers, you might think they were discontinued. They weren’t. They were simply renumbered when DMC moved to adding the E at the beginning, and now have the number match up with the cotton equivalent.
In other words, 5269 isn’t very intuitive, but E699 tells you it is a metallic equivalent of DMC 699. Making it much easier to color match or add some sparkle to a pattern that already calls for these numbers.
Discontinued DMC Variegated Threads
If you’re not familiar with variegated threads, I have a whole article providing tips for working with multicolor floss.
Unfortunately a lot of the discontinued threads are variegated threads. These don’t get as much love as they should. They can be a bit daunting and harder to picture in a design. So they don’t get used nearly as much.
These can’t really be “replaced” as the whole point is their uniqueness. The only one of these discontinued ones I have is 91, so I don’t have photos for you. But I can at least help list which ones were discontinued.
- 57 – Red
- 61 – Topaz
- 62 – Dusty Rose
- 75 – Cranberry
- 91 – Turquoise
- 95 – Purple
- 101 – Spring Green
- 102 – Dark Violet
- 103 – Royal Blue
- 104 – Lemon
- 108 – Yellow Orange
- 112 – Salmon
- 113 – Wedgewood Blue
- 114 – Lime Green
- 116 – Cyclamen Pink
- 122 – Olive Green
- 123 – Teal
- 124 – Periwinkle
- 126 – Lavender
Perhaps in the future when I’ve been able to obtain them, I’ll try and add some suggestions of variegated threads from other brands that are close to these colors.
Discontinued DMC Variations Threads
I do luckily have all the Color Variations threads, but I don’t own enough variegated thread in other brands to give many replacement options. But there are some suggestions, at least.
Most of these are still fairly easy to find (as of 2022) as they were only discontinued in (I think) 2015. You can still find them both in singles and the floss packs some of these came in.
At this point I’ve put about 30 hours of research and stitching into this article though, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t swatch them. A small star wouldn’t be enough to show all the color changes anyway. But here’s a decent look at them on bobbins:
- 4000 – Espresso
- 4017 – Polar Ice
- 4022 – Mediterranean Sea
- 4042 – Very Merry
- 4047 – Emerald Isle
- 4066 – Amazon Moss
- 4068 -Camouflage
- 4069 – Margarita -> Cosmo 9005 (But leans a bit more green)
- 4072 – Toasted Almond
- 4073 – Buttercup
- 4095 – Cupcake
- 4122 – Fall Harvest
- 4129 – Peanut Brittle
- 4135 – Terra Cotta
- 4205 – Caliente -> Anchor 1206 (But darker red)
- 4211 – Azalea
- 4212 – Mixed Berries
- 4214 – Cotton Candy
- 4237 – Laguna Blue
- 4245 – Mystical Midnight -> Cosmo 8068
- 4250 – Berry Parfait
- 4255 – Orchid
- 4260 – Enchanted
- 4265 – Purple Pansy
I’ll likely revisit these variegated suggestions once I have expanded my Cosmo Seasons, Weeks Dye Works, Threadworx, and other brand collections. And maybe even add swatches!
In the meantime, if you have a recommendation for any of these variegated threads, please let me know!Found this post useful? Share it with others!