Hand Dyed Fabrics

Hand dyed fabrics; or why doesn’t the piece in my hand look anything like the picture on my screen?

Hand Dyeing Techniques

Very broadly speaking, there are two main types of techniques used to hand dye fabrics used in cross stitch:

  • Immersion – fabric is put in the coloured liquid.
  • Painting, including ice dying – coloured liquid is put on the fabric.

Immersion is when you make up a bath of coloured liquid solution and you put the fabric into the solution. Scrunching, wrinkling or tying  the fabric produces the mottled colours we love so much.

Painting is when a thicker coloured solution is dripped, sprayed, painted or melted on the fabric.  These techniques give the dyer more control over where the colour goes, allowing some detailed scenes to be produced.

Ice dyeing is a version of painting where you cover portions (or the whole) fabric in ice pieces. The dry colourants are put on the ice pieces.  As the ice melts, the water wets the dry colourant forming a coloured solution on the fabric.

Fabric Types

There are a number of different types of fabric we stitch on, and they are made from of different natural or artificial fibres.

  • Aida – 100% cotton
  • Hardanger – 100% cotton
  • Jazlyn – 52% cotton and 48% rayon
  • Jobelan – 51% Cotton & 49% Rayon/Modal blend
  • Linen – 100% linen
  • Lugana/Brittney – 52% cotton, 48% viscose
  • Monaco – 100% cotton
  • Murano – 52% cotton 48% modal

Natural fibres such as cotton and linen absorb dyes more readily than artificial fibres, so Aida, Hardanger, Linen and Monaco will come out darker than the other fabrics (given the same conditions).

Photo courtesy of Colour Cascade fabrics
Photo courtesy of Colour Cascade fabrics

Photographing fabrics

The below is a set of images of the same fabric:

  1. the image from the dyers site
  2. photograph of my fabric outside in full sunlight
  3. photograph of my fabric outside in full shade
  4. photograph of my fabric inside
  5. photograph of my fabric under artificial light at night

In reality, my fabric is none of these; it is similar to the first two but much more vibrant. A bright lime green.  So why don’t these reflect what we see?

Colour Vision

Very broadly speaking, the cones in eyes that see colour, fall into variations of Red, Greenish Yellow and Blue/Violet based on whether they are short, medium or long wavelengths.

Monitors, digital cameras, mobile phone displays, but use a Red, Green Blue (RGB) display.  Each pixel on the screen is built by driving three small and very close red, green and blue light sources. These light sources overlay each other to differing degrees to give the differing colours. Usually these separate sources are so small as to be indistinguishable, which tricks the eye to see the intended solid color.  When all RGB are on, we get white.

Representation of a RGB Colour Wheel
Representation of a RGB Colour Wheel


When printing an image, printers generally use the CMYK colour model. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK.  For printers, shades of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow are overlayed on top of the paper (and on each other, to given the colour we want.  When all CMY are used we get black. In practicality, most printers don’t give a true black, more of a muddy black, which is why blacK is the fourth colour used.


To sum up, eyes use wavelengths to see colours.  Digital devices use the subset of colours created by Red Green and Blue lights, heading towards white (full light).  Printers use the subset of colours created by Cyan, Yellow and Magenta, heading for black (absence of light).

There is no possible way for either monitors or printers to accurately reflect the full range of colours that our eyes can see.

Descriptions and comparisons

As well as just showing us these fallible pictures, some dyers use words to help us understand the real colours of their fabrics: “this colour is a bright medium Chartreuse“.  Don’t underestimate the value of this, I once saw a tiny picture of a fabric on my monitor and it looked to be lovely velvety deep blues morphing into black.  When the fabric arrived it was splotchy red and black, like lava and volcanic rock.

Or they compare it to something that we can see in life; as we are stitchers, DMC floss is something we are likely to have at hand: “the approximate DMC colours for this fabric are 437/3827, 3053 and 3859

Hand Dyed Means Unique

OK, so we’ve seen a big picture of the fabric we love, we’ve read the description and checked the floss colours so it should be perfect right?

There are just some variables in hand dyed fabrics that you can never plan for.  The minerals in the water used in the dye bath, the temperature of the water versus the temperature of the ambient air on the day it was dyed, the humidity levels, whether it was line dried or tumble dried, these can subtly change the characteristics of the final piece.

These are three examples of the same fabric, dyed to the same process by the same dyer, each bought months apart:

left is pink/grey;  middle is cream/brown;  right is grey/silver
left is pink/grey; middle is cream/brown; right is grey/silver


But you know what, we use hand dyed fabrics because we want something different, we want something unique and we want something that adds that je ne sais quoi to our project. Just remember, when planning to use the same hand dyed fabric on more than one design:


The same fabric in the same dyelot, dyed at the same time on the same day is the best way to minimise differences in your hand dyed fabrics.

My heartfelt thanks to Tammy Verdon of Colour Cascade Fabrics, Shari & Marilyn from Picture this Plus and Terry Diaz from Youthful Hands Needlecrafts for the use of their images for this article.  Thank you also to Tammy Verdun for confirming the technical aspects of the dyeing process and Julie Dollery for confirming the colour vision section.  All errors are mine and mine alone.

Places to Buy

World Wide:

Fabric Flair has stores in UK and USA. Some products are also sold by their distributor in Australia, Sewitall.  Fabric Flair fabrics are not technically “hand dyed”, they are printed on onre side of the fabric by machine, but I have included them here as they as used the same as hand dyed fabrics.

Wichelt has a range of hand dyed jobelan fabrics that are available in may needlework stores.


Colour Cascade Fabrics Tammy has many hand dyed fabrics that would add a unique element to your stitching. Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Use code: CSReview. Offer ends 6 December 2014.

Sewitall supplies some Fabric Flair fabrics but also hand dyes their own colour combinations here in Australia

Stitches and Spice is Australia’s only fabric and thread  hand dyer.


Enchanting Lair produce beautiful fabrics many of which can be used with their great charts.


Annick Abrial creates beautiful hand dyed threads and fabric.


Eclypse’s Colors has a beautiful range of fabrics. These can also be bought in Australia via From Italy with Love

Primitive Hare hand dyes linen in a few different “aged” or “parchment” styles that work wonderfully with her patterns or any samplers.

New Zealand:

Country Stitch has been a long running supplier of hand dyed fabrics.

Nina’s Threads has expanded  into hand dying linen fabrics.

United Kingdom:

Chromatic Alchemy is a Facebook only company that has a great range of bright fabrics.

Crafty Kitten has two ranges of hand dyed fabrics, pastels and vivids.

Jodyri Designs produces hand dyed floss and fabrics.

Polstitches is one of the UK’s longest running and best known fabric and thread hand dyers with their fabrics being recommended for charts in many UK Cross Stitch publications.

Sparklies has a  large range of hand dyed fabrics that would add a such a sparkle to your project.

United States:
Garibaldi’s Needle Works is an ebay only store that produces beautiful mottled fabrics and threads.

Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie has a great range of colours to suit all projects.

Lakeside Linens have a range of hand dyed fabric where some can be “double-dipped” and others “vintaged”.  Both give a uniqueness to their fabrics.

Picture This Plus is one the US’s longest running and best known fabric hand dyers. Their annual Christmas in July sale is so huge it takes until November to dye and send out all the orders.

R&R Reproductions produce aged and muted tone fabrics for their extensive range of sampler charts.

Sassy’s Fabbys has a great range of colours.

Silkweaver is the other long running and well-known fabric hand dyer from the US.  Silkweaver was bought out by Zweigart USA a few years ago and there have been reports of slow customer service.  I find I have the best results by ordering from the Needleworkers Delight site.

Sunny*Dyes fabrics by Youthful Hands Needle Crafts include some of the best hand painted fabrics I have seen.

Under the Sea Fabrics has some unique two-toned earth and sky or water and sky fabrics rarely seen elsewhere.

Weeks Dye Works are  long time thread dyers who moved into the hand dyed fabric market. The fabric colours mimic their thread colours.


Did I miss any good dyers?  Please comment below and I will add them to the list.


Did you like this Weekend Spotlight? Did it contain all the expected information? Is there anything you would like added or removed from this? Do you know of a particular chart, designer, stitch along or accessory creator you want to see featured here? If so, please head to the Suggestions page and let me know.

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Under the Moonlight by Passione Ricamo

Another Mystery stitch-along for SAL Tuesday.  It’s that time of year, when the 2015 stitch-a-long are arranged and sign ups are still open.

Passione Ricamo - Under the Moonlight

From the Designer?

Clair de Lune, Under the Moonlight.  The subject is very romantic and seductive … but I do not tell you more …

Sign-up closes:  2 Nov 2014
SAL Duration: 3 Nov 2014 – 14 Jun 2015

Why this chart?

I am a sucker for a stitch-a-long (SAL), especially a Mystery stitch along where you have no idea what the resultant piece will look like. Passione Ricamo has run two similar Mystery stitch alongs before and I loved the results of both of them.

Passione Ricamo stitch alongs are large and need time and attention if you wish to keep up; at times it must take precedent over other stitching projects.  However, like all stitch alongs it is quite fine to lag behind, stitching at your own pace, many of us do.

Under the Moonlight  includes metallic threads and many beads. I would consider it suitable for an adventurous beginner or intermediate stitcher. There will be floss replacement options given for the metallics and beads for those stitchers who prefer to use all cottons.

Passione Ricamo - Under the Moonlight Mystery Stitchalong
Under the Moonlight


Mystery Stitch alongs are a gamble. I generally find that if you like the majority of a designer’s work, then you are likely to enjoy their mystery SAL.  It is up to each stitcher to decide if the risk is worth it to you.

Passione Ricamo gives very little away about the nature of her stitch alongs.  It is not until after you sign up that you receive a Welcome Pack which lists the floss, embellishment and fabric options. As the Stitch along is starting in three weeks, I have permission to discuss the floss, embellishment and fabric options here.

To join in the SAL you need to buy the chart pack. There is a secret Facebook group for those who wish to join. This is not mandatory, but there are already many conversations discussing fabric choices, fabric sizes, bead options and general stitching questions. It is communities like this that keep us encouraged and thrilled about a design when we start to feel jaded and that other new start looks enticing!

We will receive the Under the Moonlight chart in sections from November 2014 to  May 2015.  The sections will only arrive via email so you will either print each section out yourself or work directly from a tablet. The Welcome Pack includes a diagram of the section outlines and the dates we will receive each section.

Laura provides each chart section twice, once in black and white and another in colour. Both contain the symbol key or legend.

The black and white chart is the main chart to stitch from. Each new section will include a one-row overlap to help in lining up your stitched sections and minimising errors. The overlap row is shaded grey so you don’t accidentally stitch it again.  Also on the black and white chart, Laura provides the backstitching lines in various colours, so it is easy to determine which section is to be outlined in which floss.

In a chart such as this where there are many different threads, it could be easy to mistake one chart symbol for another. The colour chart is very useful to quickly check your stitching, e.g. if you are stitching the correct green symbol or the incorrect but similar purple symbol.

 Materials Required

To stitch the chart exactly as designed, you will need:


1 skein each – DMC 155, 156, 160, 210, 211, 310, 311, 321, 333, 335, 340, 341, 433, 434, 435, 436, 437, 470, 471, 472, 632, 646, 647, 676, 677, 729, 746, 747, 758, 775, 777, 801, 807, 819, 838, 905, 907, 938, 945, 951, 3021, 3023, 3024, 3041, 3371, 3743, 3746, 3747, 3756, 3765, 3766, 3770, 3820, Ecru


2 skeins DMC 645 – Very Dark Beaver Grey

1 spool Kreinik #4 Very Fine Braid 9294 – Periwinkle

1 card each Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid: PB01, PB09, PB10, PB12, PB22,  PB66, PB72, PB204,  PB205, with optional PB201. Dawn is using PB201 in her model stitch of Under the Moonlight.


5 packets Mill Hill Glass Beads 00479 – White


2 packets Mill Hill Glass Beads  02009  – Ice Lilac

Any suitable dark fabric of any type – some examples are shown below. (stitch count 215 x 299). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1.

For 14ct Aida or 28ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 22″ x 28″  or  55 x 70 or  a half yard (27 x 36″).

Approximate cost for Project

If you have stitched any of the previous Passione Ricamo Mystery stitch alongs, you will have many of these threads and embellishments already in your stash. Listed below is the approximate cost to stitch the Under the Moonlight project if you are new to Passione Ricamo designs and are buying items at retail prices. Please note these approximations do not include postage or the optional extra floss. If you are interested in stitching this design now, there are places who are offering embellishment packs (see further below).

Chart:  $16.30
Floss:   $62.80
Fabric: $46.00

Total: $125.10   ($219.20 AUD or £132.60)

Places to Buy


Colours Down Under stocks all your floss and embellishment needs. Also some plain evenweave and Aida choices.

Colour Cascade Fabrics is running a floss and fabric pack for this Stitch Along, contact Tammy for more information. For readers of this site she offers a 10% discount. Use code PeaceOut during checkout. Code valid for the month of October 2014.

United Kingdom:

Crafty Kitten is offering an embellishment pack for the Stitch Along and is offering a 10% discount on fabric if you buy at the same time:

Polstitches is also offering floss, embellishment and fabric packs for this stitch along and a 25×27 cut of fabric (cheaper than a half yard):

SewandSo stocks all of your DMC floss and a variety of fabric choices.

Sparklies has a wide choice of colours to choose from if you wish to make your piece unique with hand dyed fabric.

United States:

123Stitch stocks all most of yourfloss and embellishment needs.

Crazy Annies is offering an embellishment pack for this Stitch Along.

Silkweavers has the following fabric suitable for this stitch along

Steph’s Fabbys has the following fabric suitable for this stitch along

Under the Sea fabrics makes the following fabrics which are suitable for the stitch along

For Discussion

Are you stitching Under the Moonlight? Leave a link to your photo album in the comments so we can all see the varieties of fabric and floss you have chosen.


Did you like this review? Did it contain all the expected information? Is there anything you would like added or removed from the reviews? Do you know of a particular chart or designer you want to see featured here? If so, please head to the Suggestions page and let me know.


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Audrey by Cross Stitching Art

Enough with the simple few colours, time for a project you can get your teeth into.

Audrey, My Fair Lady
Audrey, My Fair Lady

What is it?

A design inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s role in My Fair Lady. Tatiana created this design from her own sketch.

Why this chart?

Audrey, My Fair Lady from Tatiana of Cross Stitching Art is a chart from my personal stash. This is the kind of intermediate design that I adore. I love stitching the different colours and watching the design come to life under my needle. And of course there’s always the age-old dilemma of “do you stitch the face first or last?”

Audrey has all the elements of a great stitching project: hand dyed fabric, backstitching to give clarity, metallic thread for that sparkle, beads for some textural highlights and enough DMC colours changes to provide some depth while also maintaining enough blocks of single colour that you can load your needle with a strand of floss and stitch the entire strand to the project, before switching colours.

There are very few partial stitches in Audrey (only used to give her face a more defined shape) and the metallics and beads are clearly marked. I would happily recommend this design for an adventurous beginner or an intermediate stitcher.

Audrey, My Fair Lady
Audrey, My Fair Lady


I am undecided about the Cross Stitching Art packaging. The gold envelope is elegant and the chart nestles beautifully inside it, however, I cannot see the information I need to kit up the project. I need to buy and open the packet or look up the details on the Cross Stitching Art website.  Reflecting further, maybe most stitchers purchase over the Internet and thus the information is better provided on the website instead of the backside of the envelope.

The Audrey chart is printed in black on a yellow A3 (11.7″ x 16.5″). The printing is in large bold type and both the chart and the instructions are easy to see. So easy to stitch at midnight – sometimes I wish the holes in the fabric were this big 🙂

Each side of the A3 sheet has half of the chart and the instructions. The stitching instructions are printed on both sides of the paper so all information is at hand regardless of where you are stitching. The chart however uses slightly more than half the page, so you cannot fold the paper in the middle to clip the chart to a smaller stand or binder. I presume this is so the design cannot be easily copied.

The second side of the chart has a clearly marked two-row overlap. Again this ensures all information is at hand.

Printing the chart double-sided on the paper seems the popular choice for designers. The printing is to a professional standard, there is no bleed through of one side to the other, however if you mark off your chart as you stitch, you may need to make a working copy.

 Materials Required

To stitch Audrey, My Fair Lady exactly as designed, you will need:

1 skein each – DMC 317, 318, 340, 341, 413, 414, 632, 754, 760, 775, 801, 818, 926, 928, 938, 948, 967, 3328, 3747, 3752, 3756, 3799, white

Audrey DMC threads

2 spools – Kreinik #4 Very Fine Braid 011HL – Gun Metal Hi Lustre

1 Packet – Mill Hill Glass Beads 00479 – White

1 Packet – Mill Hill Glass Beads 02014 – Black

1 Packet – Mill Hill Glass Beads 02097 – Bahama Blue

Under the Sea Fabrics – 32 count jobelan Angelic (stitch count 88 x 201). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1.  For 16ct Aida or 32ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 12″ x 19″  or  30 x 48cm  or  a fat quarter (18 x 27″).

Under the Sea Fabric - Angelic on Jobelan
Angelic (on Jobelan)

Approximate cost for Project

Approximate cost to stitch Audrey, My Fair Lady using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do  not include postage):

Chart: $15.00
Floss:  $12.60
Fabric: $20.00

Total: $47.60    ($73.45 AUD or £41.25)

Places to Buy

Colours Down Under has all the has the floss and all the embellishments in stock. Jo would be happy to order in the chart, and offers a 10% discount on the package (chart + floss + embellishments). Mention this review when ordering.

Colour Cascade Fabrics Tammy recommends Fairies Wear Boots from her range of fabrics.  Colour Cascades also stocks the floss and all the embellishments for Audrey and offers to order in the chart. For readers of this site she offers a 10% discount. Use code PeaceOut during checkout. This code is valid for the month of October 2014.

United Kingdom:

SewandSo have all the materials for Audrey in stock, however they do substitute a plain evenweave for the hand dyed fabric the chart calls for.

Sparklies suggests Lavender Blue or Lilac Ice from her range of fabrics.

 United States:

123Stitch has the chart, floss and all the embellishments in stock.

Silkweavers suggest Elegance from their line

Under the Sea Fabrics produces the Angelic fabric as well as many others.

Cross Stitching Art sell the chart directly from her website.

For Discussion

When stitching figurines like this, do you aim to do the head as soon as possible and feel better when she has a face? Or are you happy to do the clothes and leave the head and face until last?


Did you like this review? Did it contain all the expected information? Is there anything you would like added or removed from the reviews? Do you know of a particular chart or designer you want to see featured here? If so, please head to the Suggestions page and let me know.

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Last Updated: 13 December 2014


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