Hand Dyed Floss

What is hand dyed floss and how do I use it?

Dinky Dyes silk

Hand Dying techniques

There are many different ways of hand dyeing embroidery floss. Broadly speaking these techniques fall into two categories:

Vat Dyeing – the skeins or hanks of floss are immersed or dipped into a container of liquid dye

Space Dyeing  – where coloured dyes are placed along different parts of the floss skein or hank.

Vat Dyeing is where you make up a liquid solution of pigment or dye, and then you dip part or all if your floss into it, or when you drop your floss into it, giving it a bath. You can tie loose knots in your floss so that the dye penetrates some areas more than others. This is the easiest range of methods for mottled threads or subtle dye variations.

Space Dyeing  is where coloured dyes are deliberately added to specific sections of the floss skein or hank. Usually the dye solution is added to the floss. Space Dyeing methods are mainly used to create colourful rainbow threads.

Dye Types

There are many different types of dyes and pigments used to dye floss.  Some are powders that must be mixed into water or oil, some are already liquid, some are derived from plant materials, or squished insects, others are made in a laboratory.  Some require a “mordant” to hold the colour to the floss, others do not. Often different dye processes are used on synthetic fabrics such as rayon and nylon to those processes used for cotton, silk, cashmere, wool etc.

Every different dyer uses their own type of dying process and dyes or pigments.  This is why some hand dyed threads are colourfast and others are not.  Read the label carefully if you are planning on stitching a large design or a small travel piece, as the threads may not be washable at the end.

Classic Colorworks

Cleaning tips

If you do need to clean an item that has non-colourfast threads on it, here’s how to do it.

  • Turn on the tap over your basin or sink.
  • Use tepid or cold water.
  • Do not put the plug in.
  • Rinse your fabric under the water, thoroughly wetting it.
  • If any colours run, this is usually excess dye leaching from the thread. Leave your stitching under the running water until the water runs clear.

If you put the plug in or swirl this fabric through a basin of standing water then that excess dye lands on your fabric and stains it.  If you leave the water running without a plug then the water carries the free dye down the drain before it can land and stain.

Caron waterlilies

Photographing floss and Colour Vision

The same issues we discussed in the Hand Dyed Fabrics article apply here. There is no possible way for either monitors or printers to accurately reflect the full range of colours that our eyes can see. However, you can often get a good idea of the range and variation in the shading.

Carrie's Silks

Hand Dyed Means Unique

Again as discussed in the Hand Dyed Fabrics article, there are just some variables in the hand dying process  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, the humidity levels or how the floss was dried.  All of these factors can these can subtly change the characteristics of the final piece.

If you are buying variegated threads for a specific project, ALWAYS BUY THE WHOLE AMOUNT OF FLOSS AT THE SAME TIME . Wherever possible, ask that the skeins are supplied from the SAME DYELOT.

This is particularly important if you are planing to stitch a large piece in hand dyed floss, By requesting skeins from the same dyelot, you will know both the shade and patterning will be consistent throughout your piece.

Gentle Arts Sampler Threads  - Reds and Blues

How do you stitch with hand dyed threads

The way you stitch with hand dyed threads makes a significant difference to the finished effect. To show this, I have stitched a sampler to illustrated some of the more common stitching styles.  I have used a skein of Carrie’s Jelly Fish as there are many colour changes.

2014-12-12 16.36.46

Left block and first long strip were stitched:

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  then ///////////////// (yes I was taught by a left-hander)

In both the block and the row, some of the colours are barely seen because they are used on the bottom  \\\\ and others are shown more because they are solely used as the top ////,  This can create an unusual look for your piece. I do like the interplay of colours with the yellow over pink add the purple over green.

I’ve only see one pattern that deliberately asked to be stitched that way; “Is it my Eyes” by Susan Saltzgiver. Most of these blocks have the bottom \ in a different floss to the /,  Usually light over dark but sometimes dark over light.

Is it my eyes - Susan Saltzgiver

Middle block and middle strip are stitched one full stitch at a time, so \ then / then \ then /   The rows are stitched:

01, 02, 03 … 09, 10
20, 19, 18 … 12, 11
21, 22, 23 … 29, 30
40, 39, 38 … 32, 31   etc

Although it doesn’t look much different in the block, the row shows how this can lead to a stripey stitched effect.  This method best reflects the real patterning in the hand dyed thread. One such as this:

Fire flower finished

Right Block and third strip were stitched via my way. I’ve developed a habit of stitching two stitches, then going to the next row and stitching the same two stitches, and then back up to the previous row and stitching another two stitches, then down to the next row and stitching two stitches etc.  So the block was stitched like this:

01, 02, 05, 06 … 17, 18
03, 04, 07, 08 … 19, 20
38, 37, 34, 33 … 22, 21
40, 39, 36, 35 … 24, 23
41, 42, 45, 46 … 57, 58
43, 44, 47, 48 … 59, 60 now there are three rows left so
86, 85, 80, 79 … 62, 61
88, 87, 82, 81 … 64, 63
90, 89, 84, 83 … 66, 65

This produces more of a mottled effect instead of stripes:


Or you can throw all of that out the window and cut your hand dyed threads so that you choose where each section of colour goes.  In this case, I stitched the left project using my usual two stitches method.  On the right, I cut the thread so that the colours went where I wanted them to.


Hand dyed thread will always produce an effect that is guaranteed to be unique. No two stitchers will create exactly the same outcome and often this variation creates some truly beautiful finishes. Ultimately, you can stitch with your hand dyed threads any which way you please. It all depends on the effect you want for each project.

Stitched Sampler

Places to Buy

World Wide:

These are threads that are available in most cross stitch stores:

Anchor Multicolours. Anchor Embroidery Floss is spun from the world’s finest 100% Egyptian cotton. Anchor offers you 24 multicolours that are completely washable and offer outstanding colorfastness.

Caron Waterlilies Hand-dyed 12 ply spun silk. 6 yard skeins. Easily divided, use two plies for cross stitch over two threads on 28 count fabric.

Caron Wildflowers A single strand hand-dyed cotton in variegated colors. It has more of a matte finish when stitched.  36 yard skein.

Classic Colorworks (formerly Crescent Colours) A hand dyed floss that begins with 100% cotton DMC six strand floss and gentle fabric dyes designed specifically for cotton. Available in a variety of beautiful colors that work well with cross stitch. 5 yard skeins.

Classic Colorworks (formerly Crescent Colours) Belle Soie Silk Floss These silks are hand dyed with the same creative eye and flair you’ve come to enjoy in their cotton flosses, with a softness unmatched in other silks. They start with a 12-stranded spun silk, and package them into 5-yard skeins.

Dinky Dyes Now based in the United States, Dinky Dyes started in Western  Australia.  Luxurious hand-dyed 6 strand spun silk sold in 8 meter skeins.

DMC Color Variations These give you the look of hand dyed floss with the added quality and reassurance that they are made by DMC. Twenty-four beautiful multi-color and tone on tone shades that are colorfast.

Gentle Art Sampler Threads Six Strand hand over-dyed floss. Sold in 5 yard skeins.

Gloriana This spun silk has silk’s beauty, luster, and shine but doesn’t catch on your hands. Gloriana Silk is soft and remarkably easy to use. 12 strand silk, 6 yard skein.

Gloriana Florimell Au Ver a Soie Soie d’Alger artisan-dyed 7 strand silk by Gloriana Threads. 5 yard skein. Hand-washable in cold water.

Needlepoint Inc Northern Lights 8 Strands. Colourfast. 100% Pure Chinese Silk. Overdyed to create this wonderful range of multicolour silk threads.

Thread Gatherer Silk N Colors 100% silk, 12-ply, 6 yard skeins. Silk N Colors initially separates into 3 groups of 4-ply. Before stitching, separate and put together the desired ply. Cross-stitching: we recommend 1-ply on 30 count or finer, 2-ply on 28 count linen.

Threadworx Overdyed Floss A premium quality, six-strand embroidery floss made from the finest long-staple, 100% Egyptian Giza cotton. Sold in 20 yard skeins.

Threadworx Vineyard Silk Artisan dyed by ThreadworX. 100% Pure Chinese Silk. Twisted. 20 yard skeins.

Valdani  Superb Hand-Overdyed colors in Cotton Floss for the “matte” look. Embroidery Floss Skeins in 6-ply cotton for cross-stitch

Weeks Dye Works Hand Over-Dyed Floss. 5 yard skeins. The colors are variegated enough to be noticeable, yet subtle enough to blend naturally. Because it is pliable, this fiber is perfect for cross stitch and needlepoint on many counts of fabric and canvas.


Colour Streams Colour Streams hand dyed embroidery silk threads are available in 50 glorious overdyed colours.

Cottage Garden Threads Our passion is to produce hand dyed threads inspired by the diversity of colour among the flowers and foliage of a cottage garden.

Primke Threads are hand dyed cotton threads from Australia, they come in 72 colours.

Stitches and Spice is Australia’s only floss hand dyer. There are 56 colours in Naomi’s range and they complement her fabric colours. 5 metre skeins of Hand-dyed 6 stranded 100% cotton.


Annick Abrial creates beautiful hand dyed floss colours. 100% cotton, 6 strands stranded, hand-painted, which are capable of steam ironing. The colors are guaranteed in time and are 8 metre skeins.

Rainbow Fingers  I’m a fiber artist living in France that has a passion for dyeing also.

The Silk Mill Our silk is 100% pure Chinese monofilament silk thread. The thread comes in skeins of six strands of 6.5 metres long, with a total skein length of 39 metres. There are 700 shades of silk to choose from.

Romy’s Creations Overdyed DMC floss in beautiful colours.


Nina’s Threads 100% stranded cotton threads, hand dyed with professional dyes, for embroidery and cross stitch. 8 meters / skein. Rinsed in neutral scent after dye.

South Africa:

Chameleon Threads are individually hand-dyed in South Africa using cotton, rayon and pure silk.

House of Embroidery Un-dyed cotton threads are imported from Europe and un-dyed silk is imported from Japan. Our threads are dyed in South Africa, using European dyes.

United Kingdom:

Crafty Kitten These threads are dyed to match our fabric colour range.  Each skein is 5m in length. These threads have been hand-dyed on high quality DMC white stranded embroidery cotton.

Jodyri Designs Hand dyed cotton threads priced at 99p per 8m skein. These cannot be guaranteed to be colourfast

Polstitches Dragon Floss has some wonderful thread names.  6 strand cotton, 8 metre skeins.

Rainbow Girl Each item is unique, and cannot be reproduced. I use a low water immersion technique with procion dyes. Every item is thoroughly rinsed and washed in Synthrapol, after dyeing, but I cannot guarantee that they are colourfast.

Sparklies All my threads are full skeins of DMC, hand dyed to an overdyed finish. Currently these are mostly two-tone, but I hope to expand the range to include multi-tone colours in the future.

Stef Francis 6-strand cotton, length 10m.  12 strand Silk, length 6m.

Thread Pickerz Silkz Here you will find wonderful silks to help make your cross stitch projects stand out. Each silk skein has 50 single strand lengths of approx 0.96m in length.

United States:

Carrie’s Creation Threads All threads are 100% cotton DMC,  and available in either the 6 strand cotton, the premium weight floss known as Floche, or Silk!

Dragonfly Lotus Produces hand dyed silk and wool threads.

Fiberactive Organics Our Shop Specializes in hand-dyed organic cotton products. We use low impact Fiber-Reactive Dyes to achieve the most vivid and fade resistant colors for all your project’s needs.

Fiberlicious  is a Facebook only dyer. Cotton floss is 6 strands and 10 yards long (approx).Silk has 50 single strands of 1.2m long which is 60 m in total. They are dyed with variation of colors (not colorfast). My silk is Pure silk (Flat Silk, 2 plies), not processed silk with polyester so it’s pretty soft and delicate.

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

Hand Dyed Fibers by Vicki Clayton. Silk floss comes in two sizes. Regular silk floss is about the same size as DMC. Premium floss is much thicker and has single strand coverage over 2 on 28 ct. – 32 ct. You can use the drop down box to choose which type of floss you would like. Vicki is swamped with orders and has taken down her floss pages for a couple of weeks.

Mo’s Sale a Facebook supplier that now has her own website. Often releases new colours in themes such as MockingJay and Harry Potter.

Rumple Beary Rumors On Facebook and Etsy.  My skeins are hand measured and dyed/painted, so each will vary.  10 yards each of 6 strand cotton embroidery floss  Most times you will get a bit more than 10 yards. My threads are hand painted/dyed on a DMC base white thread and are variegated.

Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe On Ebay and Etsy. My floss is 20, one yard pieces, per skein.


Did I miss any good dyers?  Please comment below and I will add them to the list. Also, what article do you want next weekend?


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.

Last updated: 13 December 2014


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Rabbit Roundel by The Workbasket

For today’s Monochrome Monday we have an actual monochrome! Don’t forget the Late November Sales post as Sunday and Cyber Monday sales are still going on.  Also check out the Pharoah’s Hound and Pharoah’s Pet almost-giveaway at OzStitch; use promo code PET for 50% off.

Rabbit Roundel
Rabbit Roundel

From the Designer

I have always loved paisleys and of course bunnies and the look of patterns together in one colour. I have combined all of these fancies of mine into  decorative roundel. I can hardly wait to design more charts with paisleys. I hope you like them as well as I do.

This chart contains three designs: Bunny roundel, Rabbit Pin Cushion and Paisley Scissor Fob.

Rabbit Pin Cushion and Paisley Scissor Fob
Rabbit Pin Cushion and Paisley Scissor Fob

Why this chart?

The Workbasket are famous for their Quaker and traditional designs. I love the more modern influence of paisley combined with Assisi motifs.  I love the entire series of Roundels by The Workbasket.

These three designs are in all full cross stitch, with no partial or specialty stitches, so you are free to stitch this anyway you want in any colour or count of fabric you want. You can stitch this to frame, as a pillow, on the side of a tote bag or even with wool through your chicken wire or  mesh fence! If you really want to capitalise on the paisley motif, consider stitching this in bold 1960s colours.

When using solid colour floss, there is a preference to stitch the entire line first one way /////////////////// and then stitch the line back the other way \\\\\\\\\\\\\ producing our lovely line of xxxxxxxxx.

if you do that with hand dyed floss, the colour changes will be very subtle. If that is the look you want; that’s how to do it.


Usually though, the advice is to complete each stitch as you go so our line would be x then x then x then x until we reach the end.  Unfortunately this method can produce a very striped result.  Again if you are looking for stripes; that’s how to do it.


I prefer my hand dyed pieces to look mottled and not striped or subtle, so I stitch slightly differently; rather than stitching each line, I change up and down lines as I stitch so that the colour changes of the thread are concentrated in one area.

xxxxxxxxx                  xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxx                  xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxx                  xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

So feel free to play with your stitching style and don’t feel constrained to only stitch each line as you come to it.  For the ovals around the frame, I would use the colours of the thread to follow around the oval.

A project this versatile is a great project for beginners and expert stitchers alike.

Workbasket - Rabbit Roundel Closeup


Rabbit Roundel is printed double-sided on a single US Ledger (similar to A3) light cardstock, folded in half.  The front cover has a photo of the main chart.  The back cover has multiple photos of the two smaller designs.  You have to buy the chart, or take it out of the plastic bag to find out the technicalities of the design.

The inside of the folded chart pack contains the three charts, the history of the design and information on the materials and design size.

As these are small designs the charts are printed large enough to directly stitch from.  As these are one colour charts, there’s no need for differentiation of floss symbols.  I do like their use of a solid round • for the floss symbol; very easy to see.

Unfortunately neither the pin cushion nor the scissor fob include information on finishing the designs.  Only the charts are presented and you must find the construction information for yourself elsewhere.

 Materials Required

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

Caron Waterlilies 162 Periwinkle

Caron Waterlilies 162 Periwinkle
1 skein for Bunny roundel (stitched with one strand)
1 skein for both Rabbit Pin Cushion and Paisley Scissor Fob.

Bunny Roundel:
36 count Flax Edinburgh Linen (stitch count 108 x 108). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1.  For the recommended, one over two on 36ct linen (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 12” x 12”  or  31 x 31cm  or  a fat eighth (13 x 18″).

For 14ct Aida or 28ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 14” x 14”  or  35x 35cm  or  a far quarter (18 x 27″)! Also you will need 2 skeins of Caron Waterlilies 162 Periwinkle to stitch two threads.

Rabbit Pin Cushion:
36 count Flax Edinburgh Linen (stitch count 64 x 30).  For the recommended, one over one on 36ct linen fabric size is: 2” x 1”  or  5 x 2cm. Remember to add border fabric .

Paisley Scissor Fob:
36 count Flax Edinburgh Linen (stitch count 29 x 35).  For the recommended, one over two on 36ct linen fabric size is: 2” x 2”  or  4 x 5 cm. Remember to add border fabric .

Zweigart - 36ct Flax

Approximate cost for Project

Approximate cost to stitch the Rabbit Roundel chart using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do  not include postage):

Chart: $ 11.00
Floss:  $    7.00
Fabric: $   8.00

Total: $26.00   ($63.15AUD or €36.00 or £31.50)

Places to Buy


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

Colour Cascade Fabrics has a variety of fabrics for you to make this design unique. Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 6 December 2014.


Casa Cenina in Spain stock a variety of fabrics and floss for your unique creation.

United Kingdom:

SewandSo has the thread in stock and offers a variety of fabrics.

Chromatic Alchemy  “Rabbit roundel is lovely, I think it needs a darker background to make it really pop though here it is on permanganate”

Polstitches “Crushed Apple will looks great”.

Sparklies suggests “Summer Skies thread as an alternative to the one suggested, or how about Burnt Mahogany thread on Pumpkin Patch fabric.”

United States:

123Stitch stocks Caron Waterlilies and a variety of fabric choices.

ABC  Stitch Therapy has the chart in stock as well as the floss and fabric.

The Silver Needle stocks this chart and the friendly staff would be happy to kit up this design for you.

Stitching Bits and Bobs has this chart in stock and can offer the floss and a variety of fabrics to match your taste.


How would YOU stitch this chart?


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.

Last Updated: 2 December 2014


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Tribal Mouse by White Willow Stitching

A Monochrome for Monochrome Monday.  Also don’t forget the current giveaway and the Weekend Spotlight is updated with even more dyers!

WWS - Tribal Mouse

What is it?

Jamie Larson of White Willow Stitching was the first to adopt and popularise the “tribal” style designs in cross stitch patterns.

Why this chart?

I looked through the White Willow Tribal designs in my stash and this little fellow leapt out at me. I might just start stitching him this weekend.  WWS Tribal designs range from animals to seasonal to a homewares.

As is true of all monochrome projects, you can stitch this little guy in shades of grey, or you can break out and use any combination of hand dyed fabric and floss you like.  Have a look through the White Willow Stitching customer gallery for some inspiration.

Due to this being a small design, using only complete crosses, I recommend Tribal Mouse for everyone looking to stitch something a little different.

White Willow Stitching - Tribal Mouse


Tribal mouse is printed on US Letter (8½ x 11″) white paper and then spiral bound.  The paper is quite thin and the chart pack feels quite flimsy; it would benefit from the front cover being card stock or all pages printed on heavier paper.

The front cover lists all the materials used to create the model stitch. The back cover has all the information needed to stitch this design in DMC on white Aida; an easier and cheaper option.

The chart itself is quite easy to read and follow; the symbol is a filled in square which is very visible against the grid. The chart is over two pages, but there are no overlap rows to help guide your stitching.  There are 10 stitch grid lines and markers to aid your counting.

The design has been model stitched using hand dyed cotton. While White Willow Stitching have provided a single DMC colour alternative, please keep in mind that a solid colour can never mimic the movement and subtly of a hand dyed thread.  So choose the thread that suits your purpose and style with this design.

 Materials Required

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

Threadworx 1120 Foxy

1 skein – ThreadworX 1140 Foxy (similar to 3 skeins of DMC 3022)


Ubelhor - Light Gold

Übelhör – 22ct Light Gold Hardanger (stitch count 155 x 74). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1.

For 22 ct Aida or Handanger (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 13¼” x 9½”  or  33 x 24cm  or  a fat eighth (13  x 18″).  If you reduce your margin size to 2″ you can fit this on an ornament cut: 9″ x 13″

Approximate cost for Project

Approximate cost to stitch each Tribal Mouse design using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do  not include postage):

Chart: $   7.00
Floss:  $   4.10
Fabric: $13.10

Total: $24.20  ($29.95 AUD or €13.95  or  £15.70)

Places to Buy

White Willow Stitching sells their charts globally and Tribal Mouse is on sale.


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

Colour Cascade Fabrics has a variety of fabrics for you to make this design unique. Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 6 December 2014.


Casa Cenina in Spain stocks a variety of fabrics and floss for your unique creation.

United Kingdom:

SewandSo has the chart and thread in stock and offers a variety of fabrics.

Sparklies suggests “Titian or Sahara thread on Dr Smith’s Tonic”.

Chromatic Alchemy  “so for tribal mouse any fabric would work I think but I think it’s a perfect opportunity to go bold so I would pick Ashardalon Breathes”.

CA - Tribal Mouse

United States:

123Stitch has the chart and thread in stock and offers a variety of fabrics.

Nordic Needle stocks the chart, thread and the Übelhör fabric to stitch this design.


Woulld you stitch this mouse in shades of grey or brown? Would you use another colour and why? Or would you not stitch a mouse at all?


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.

Was this read worth a cup of coffee?