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:

Angle-of-Love-Finished

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.

Summary

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.

Australia:

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.

France:

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.

Italy:
Romy’s Creations Overdyed DMC floss in beautiful colours.

Poland:

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.

Discussion

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?

Feedback

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

 

Make a Donation Button
Was this interesting read worth a cup of coffee?

 

Ornament Finishing Techniques

With the festive season upon us, some of you may be looking at stitching ornaments. Here are some finishing techniques to help you out. Don’t forget the Pharoah’s Hound and Pharoah’s Pet almost-giveaway at OzStitch; use promo code PET for 50% off. Also have a look at the Late November Sales post as it is changing regularly.

Finishing - Special Shaped Ornament

I will freely admit that ornament finishing is not my forte. In fact I have a number of ornaments stitched but have never made them into ornaments.  If you are like me, this post is for you. I present some specialists in the field; decide which type of ornament you want to make and follow the link for highly detailed directions and step-by-step images.

Many thanks to Hannah of Totally in Stitches, Les Broderies de Yayie, Meari of Meari’s Musings, Nicki of PlushCat, Tracy Horner of Ink Circles, Vonna Pfeiffer of The Twisted Stitcher and the staff of The Floss Box for sharing their expertise with the rest of us.

Bottle Cap Ornaments

Directions via The Floss Box.

Finishing - Bottle Cap Ornaments

Cube

Directions via Vonna Pfeiffer of The Twisted Stitcher.

Finishing - The Cube

Felt Mounted Ornament

Directions via Vonna Pfeiffer of The Twisted Stitcher.

Finishing - Felt Mounted Ornament

Flat Fold

Directions via Meari of Meari’s Musings.

Finishing - flat Fold

Flat Ornament

Directions via Vonna Pfeiffer of The Twisted Stitcher.

Flat Ornament

Floss Tag

Directions via Vonna Pfeiffer of The Twisted Stitcher.

Finishing - Floss Tags

Heart-shaped Ornament

Directions via Les Broderies de Yayie.

Finishing - Heart Shaped Ornament

Humbug

Directions via Nikki of PlushCat.

Finishing - Humbug

Mounted Flat Ornament

Directions via Vonna Pfeiffer of The Twisted Stitcher.

Finishing - Mounted Flat Ornament

 No Sew Cube

Directions via Hannah of Totally in Stitches.

Finishing - No Sew Cube

Ornament Cording and Hanger

Directions via Vonna Pfeiffer of The Twisted Stitcher.

Finishing - Ornament Cording and Hanger

Pillow Ornament

Directions via The Floss Box.

Finishing - Pillow Ornament

Self-backing Diamond Ornament

Directions via Tracy Horner of Ink Circles.

Finishing - Self-backing Diamond Ornament

Special Shaped Ornament

Directions via Vonna Pfeiffer of The Twisted Stitcher.

Finishing - Special Shaped Ornament

 Square or Rectangular Ornament

Directions via Tracy Horner of Ink Circles.

ink Circles - Square or Rectangular Ornaments

Discussion

So we’ve reached the end of yet another week of Cross Stitch Review, it feels like I started yesterday and like I’ve written forever. Now that we have ticked along a while, I’d like to ask you a question: What one change could I make to keep you reading this blog.

Feedback

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: 28 November 2014

 

Make a Donation Button
Was this interesting read worth a cup of coffee?

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.

CMYK

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:

ALWAYS BUY THE WHOLE AMOUNT OF FABRIC AT ONCE.

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.

Australia:

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.

Canada:

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

France:

Annick Abrial creates beautiful hand dyed threads and fabric.

Italy:

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.

Poland:
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.

Discussion

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

Feedback

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.

Was this read worth a cup of coffee?

Calculating fabric size

This weekend we are going to tackle that thorny question: How do I know what size fabric I need?

You need to know:

  • the stitch count of the chart
  • the fabric count you wish to stitch it on
  • Whether you are stitching over two or over one
  • What margin of fabric you want to leave

Stitch count

This is the number of stitches wide x tall the chart is.  Many designers list this information on the front or back cover of the chart. I list it in every review.

If there is no stitch count, then you will need to count the stitches yourself.  Usually the chart will have stitch numbers listed on the top and down the side of each chart at the 10 stitch line.

stitch count

So in the above example, the stitch count is 77 wide.  (It is 81 across but I know this designer leaves two blank rows all way around).

Fabric count

You need to decide what fabric count you wish to stitch your design on; 14ct Aida, or 28ct evenweave or 10ct Tula.

 Over One or Over Two

This refers to the number of threads you stitch your crosses over. Aida is usually stitched over one in that you stitch through every hole.

Evenweave is stitched over two in that you stitch into every second hole. For some designs, such as art-to-stitch, you will stitch tiny stitches into every single hole; so stitching over one.

Margins

Usually you don’t stitch to the very edge of your fabric. The size of your margin depends on how you want to finish your item; pillow, framed, etc.  You need an inch or so to sew in when making into a cushion or pillow, but three inches or more when framing, especially when using a matt or two.  I find it useful to add a three-inch margin all way around as this allows more options if you change your mind mid-stitching. You can always cut off excess fabric, but it is difficult to add the same fabric back on.

So for our example today we will use:
Stitch count: 77 x 107
Fabric count: 28ct
Over 1 or Over 2: Over two
Margin: 3 inches

Old School

This is the maths behind all of those converter apps and programs so you can work it out for yourself.

In essence, it is stitch count / (fabric count / over) + (margin x 2)

In our example:

Width = 77 stitches
Stitch count / over = 28/2 = 14 stitches per inch
Margin = 3 inches (we have margins left and right so x 2) = 6 inches

So width 77 / 14 + 6 =   11.5 = 11½ inches

Length = 107 stitches
Stitch count / over = 28/2 = 14 stitches per inch
Margin = 3 inches (we have margins left and right so x 2) = 6 inches

So height 107 / 14 + 6 =   13.64 = round up to 13 ¾ inches.

So you need a piece of fabric 11½ x 13¾”  or a fat eighth (13 x 18″)

If you want your design to be bigger or smaller, run your calculations again with a different fabric count or change your margins.

If your eyes just glazed over at the above, never fear, there are a number of smart phone apps that can do the maths for you.

Android apps

Cross Stitch Fabric Calculator

Cross Stitch Fabric Calculator. Available as both a free and a paid app.

This application helps cross stitchers determine what size fabric they need before starting a project. You enter your stitch count, the fabric thread count, and an optional border. You are then told what size fabric you will need for your project. Optionally, we also calculate the fabric size if you are stitching over two threads.

Cross Stitch Fabric Calculator 2

This app rounds up all calculations to the nearest whole inch, giving our test chart a result of: 12″ x 14″.  This app does not convert to centimetres.

 

Cross-stitch Fabric Calculator

Cross-stitch Fabric Calculator.  Available only as a paid app.

Allows you to calculate the size of your finished fabric based on your stitch count.

Enter the width and height in stitches of your work, along with the fabric count size, and get a finished size in inches/cms.

Cross-stitch Fabric Calculator 2

This app calculates the answer to one decimal place, giving our test chart a result of: 11.5″ x 13.6″.  It also provides the decimal equivalent, 20cm x 25.4cm.

 

Cross-stitch Count Coverter

Cross-stitch Count Converter. Available only as a paid app.

This simple application will allow you to find out the size of the required fabric if you were to change your existing cross stitch design to a different count size.

For example, if your current Aida size was 10″ x 10″ in 10 count, if you were to switch to 14 count then your required fabric would be 8″ x 8″ (rounded up).

Cross-stitch Count Coverter 2

This app only works with whole numbers, so for our test chart you need to use 12″ x 14″. This app does not convert the results to centimetres.

Apple iOS apps

Cross Stitch Fabric Calculator ios

Cross Stitch Calculator. Available as both a free and a paid app.

This application helps cross stitchers determine what size fabric they need before starting a project. You enter your stitch count, the fabric thread count, and an optional border. You are then told what size fabric you will need for your project. Optionally, we also calculate the fabric size if you are stitching over two threads.

Cross Stitch Fabric Calculator ios 2

This app rounds up all calculations to the nearest whole inch, giving our test chart a result of: 12″ x 14″.  This app does not convert to centimetres.

 

Cross Stitch Calculator Plus

Cross Stitch Fabric Calculator Plus. Available as  a paid app.

This app allows you to quickly calculate the correct size of fabric that you require for your cross stitch projects. Simply enter the stitch count, fabric type, border size and whether you’re stitching over 2, and watch as the optimal fabric size instantly updates, ensuring you never buy the wrong size again!

Cross Stitch Calculator Plus 2

This app requires that you add both margins in the border area; if you want 3″ borders all way around, you need to add 6″ into the calculator.  This app rounds up all calculations to the nearest whole inch, giving our test chart a result of: 12″ x 14″.  This app does not convert to centimetres.

 

FabriCalc

FabriCalc. Available as  a free app.

FabriCalc is a handy utility for working out the size of cloth you need for cross stitch, tapestry, rug making, beadwork, tiling and many other types of craft.

You simply enter the number of stitches, the number of stitches per inch, and a value for the amount of spare material around the edge.
Then click the calculator button to see the size of cloth you require. Tap the Metric or Imperial ruler icons to switch between measurement systems.

FabriCalc 2

This app calculates the answer to one decimal place, giving our test chart a result of: 11.5″ x 13.6″.  This app does convert to centimetres, giving a result of 20cm x 25.4cm..

 

Windows app

Fabric calculator
A program for those who love to Cross Stitch! Determine your fabric size by entering your stitch count, fabric thread count, and border.  Supports stitch over count, displays actual fabric size, displays recommended fabric size and now displays either Inches or Centimeters.

Fabric calculator 2

This app calculates the answer to one decimal place, giving our test chart a result of: 11.5″ x 13.6″ but then adds a recommendation of 12″ x 14″.

This app does not convert the result to centimetres, but you can run the whole calculation through in decimal. Unfortunately this app only allows full numbers to be used so a 3″ margin (which converts to 7.5cm) cannot be used, you would have to increase the margin to 8cm or lower it to 7cm.

My heartfelt thanks to Ian Dollery, Stephen Silk and Kathy Hoover for testing the different types of devices for me!

 Discussion

Do you have other apps that you prefer to use? If so, please comment below and I will add them to this review.

Feedback

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.

Was this read worth a cup of coffee?

Gina’s Fobs and Froggers

Each weekend we spotlight something that helps us as a stitcher. This weekend I’ve chosen Gina’s Fobs and Froggers.

Gina - Narnia

What is a fob and why do we use it?

A fob is something that dangles of the end of a pair of scissors. It can be a tiny stitched ornament at the end of a tether or it could be an ornament hanging from a string of beads; such as those Gina makes.

Gina - mermaid fob

Fobs are used by stitchers for a variety of reasons:

  • They are pretty – and if stitching a large design, you can buy a fob that complements.
  • They personalise your scissors. This is very important when a group of stitchers get together. Think of it as the stitching version of wine charms on wine glasses at a party. 
  • The added length helps you to blindly grab at your scissors on the table when you want to trim your floss end.
  • The larger fob on the end makes it less likely the petite scissors will fall between the couch cushions, and if it does, the added length and sparkle is there help you pull them back out; same rules apply for that bottomless stitching bag.
  • Some fobs have the right length and weight to counterbalance the weight of the scissors, making your scissors easier to use.

 

OK, what are froggers?

  • A frogger is a needle with a chain and bob on the end; fobs attached to needles are called a frogger.
  • The extra length helps you grab the needle more firmly to pull out wrong stitches.
  • The extra length and fob lower the likelihood of you losing the needle when pulling at a stubborn stitch.
  • The size 22 needle is sturdy and wont break or bend.

Gina - Needle minders

And Needle Minders?

Needle minders are a decorative magnetic item that you put on your stitching to hold your needle in place. Have you ever put your needle down to change floss colours and couldn’t find your needle again – this is what a Needle Minder is for.

Each needle minder has two magnets; one attached to the bottom of the minder and the other goes on the back of your fabric. The magnetic attraction holds your minder in place with affecting the fabric.  This same magnetic attraction is what holds your needle on the minder.

Frankie Needle Minder

Gina sells fobs, froggers and needle minders in a set to complement your stitching project or personal aesthetic style.

Why buy from Gina?

Gina has an artist’s soul when creating her beaded beauties – she has a sense of colour and style that I haven’t seen with other fob creators.  Her service level is wonderful and items arrive promptly in the mail; very well packaged.

Gina has a lifetime guarantee on all of her fobs, if a part breaks, send it back to her and she will fix it.  This is a little impractical for us overseas customers, but it highlights her levels of commitment and expertise.

Gina also has a Facebook group where she holds regular sales; usually Saturday afternoon (US time).  Anything unsold after a few days is put into her Etsy store.  She invoices via PayPal and expects payment within one week of sending the invoice. Facebook sales are first come first served, so you may miss out on an item you really like.  If so, message Gina because she may be able to duplicate the item for you.

Gina holds massive event-themed sales yearly in her Facebook group; the annual Christmas Sale is on this weekend.

Giveaway

I’m giving away this beautiful golden peacock fob and needle minder set.  Just comment below why you would like it.

Contest is open to anywhere in the world. The only valid entries are comments below on this post.  Comments on social media will not be included.

Contest closes in one week from posting this review (Saturday, 31 October 2014, midday (Melbourne, Australia time). Winner will be chosen randomly from the comments.

Golden Peacock set

Feedback

OK we’ve reached the end of week three – are you still reading this site? Do you read it daily? Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for the site?

I’m aware that the calendar widget isn’t working now. I’m hoping that will be fixed soon.

Was this read worth a cup of coffee?