Embroidery floss is a mercerized cotton embroidery thread composed of 6 individual threads or plies, which can be separated. Any number of strands may be used in the needle, depending on the desired thickness of the thread, or the pattern instructions.
There are several manufacturers producing embroidery floss:
DMC Threads (mouline special 117) is by far the most popular brand, and is carried by nearly every major chain or needlework retailer. DMC is known for its extensive research and development to develop innovative needlework threads, has created a website to inform, educate and inspire stitches of all types and skill levels, sponsors a Mentor Program to teach new stitchers, provides support to needlework magazines and retailers worldwide, and much more.
Also, Sullivan's (while it labels its thread as "similar to DMC" there are major differences), Anchor (produced by Coats & Clark), Madeira, and Presencia (finca mouline) and others, as well as several small, independent producers.
Floss is commonly used in surface embroidery, needlepainting using the long-and-short stitch or satin stitch, cross stitch, and counted thread techniques.
Because most projects in books, magazines and kits were created using a designer's favorite floss, conversion charts are available so that you can use the brand/brands available in your area. These charts help you select the corresponding threads from other mmanufacturers.
Mixing different brands of embroidery floss is acceptable, but be aware that some brands are of a lower quality, or have a higher sheen or more of a matte finish than others.