Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Life Cycle of Hand Dyed Fabric

I love talking about the process of dyeing. Have you ever wondered what happens to your hand dyed fabric prior to starting your lovely stitching projects? Today I'm sharing a peek into the process so that you can see just what happens to our hand dyed  fabric at each step along its journey.

Our stitching fabric arrives to us on large continuous bolts. Zweigart makes our linens, aida, and Lugana evenweave of choice, and we also use Permin aida and Jobelan, depending on availability.

The fabric is first cut down into half-yard or one-yard pieces prior to dyeing. My preference is to dye in fat-half-yard pieces for a few reasons - physically, the fabric is heavy when wet during the dyeing process and it's easier to manage in smaller pieces. But more importantly, a smaller piece of fabric allows me greater control over the way the dye affects the piece in a uniform manner. My fabric dyeing style (and personal stitching preference) is for fabrics that are more subtle in their variegation and mottling, and I've found that working with half-yard pieces produces a result that I'm happiest with.

Once the fabric is cut into dyeing-size pieces from the bolt, the cut edges are serged. If you've ever had the experience of washing a piece of linen or aida without finished edges, you might have opened your washer to find a spaghetti mess of frayed ends. Serging before dyeing prevents a lot of headaches and wasted inches.

Each fabric type is tagged and stored, waiting to be dyed. We could use a bit more fabric on the shelves!

When it comes time to dye, the fabrics go into the washing machine for a good soak and scouring with an odorless textile detergent. Zweigart linens in particularly come with sizing applied to them - an added material that serves to "starch" and stiffen the fabric. Washing the fabric prior to dyeing removes this barrier and allows the dye to more uniformly penetrate the fabric, producing a more even result. I also believe that dyeing damp as opposed to dry fabrics produces a more diffused mottling, so that's an added bonus.

We have a dedicated washing machine in the studio that only handles our dyed fabrics.

From the washing machine, the fabrics go straight to the "dye pots"where they are dyed using a modified low immersion dyeing technique.

We use a textile industry standard fiber reactive dye for all of our fabrics and threads. If you've ever tie-dyed, you likely used this type of dye. It's mixed from a powder concentrate and produces a colorfast and lightfast dye result.

The liquid dye is mixed in batches depending on the amount of fabric to be dyed that day. Depending on the color, it only takes about one cup of liquid to dye a fat-half-yard of fabric.

Once the dye has been applied, the fabric sits for anywhere from 12-24 hours. Then back to the rinsing process they go. They are washed again at least once (or twice with an extra rinse for dark and saturated colors) in the washing machine, until there is no color bleed from the fabric.

The fabrics are then line and air dried. While it takes considerably longer to dry, especially in the humid summers of St. Louis, I feel that machine drying fabrics is just a bit too rough on the delicate linens and aida, and it creates a harsher feel in hand (plus, it creates more fuzz than you could believe!)

A pile of dried linens waiting to be ironed. Many will be cut into fat quarter and fat eighth yard pieces and the new cut edges will be serged again.

The fabrics are steam ironed with just a touch of a scent-free starching agent. I made my own ironing board in a rectangular shape to accommodate full pieces of fabric after seeing some inspiration from quilters who made their own pressing boards (which, by the way, is something I'd highly recommend if you iron a lot of fabric for quilting. It wouldn't be so great for finished cross stitch projects as it might flatten the stitches too much, but it's otherwise a wonderful little thing to have around. You can check out the free tutorial I used here.)

Always lots of ironing to be had around here! Luckily, my grandma "Gigi" often comes to the studio and irons with me, and boy, is she fast.

After ironing, if the fabric is a new colorway, we'll give it a brief photo shoot in a special light box. I do my very best to take accurate colors of each fabric, and sometimes a little photo editing is necessary, to make sure the color is reflected as closely as possible.

And finally, the fabric is folded and tagged with labels, ready to find their new homes. And that is how our colorful little fabrics come to be. 😊 I hope you've enjoyed a little peek behind the scenes!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

GIVEAWAY winners announced!

Happy Saturday, my friends!

A huge thank you to all who entered this week's giveaways...I must confess I spent too much time looking up all of the wonderful Halloween and fall patterns and designers that you shared in the comments and my stitching wishlist has grown exponentially!

On to the winners...

For our thread club subscription winners, the two names drawn are Crafty Angi and Cherise Raven!  Angi and Cherise will each receive our 10-skein subscription for the next six months, beginning with this month's July shipment!  Woohoo!

The winner of our Limited Edition Vintage Halloween Box is Lauren McKinney!

Thank you again to all who participated...we have quite a few giveaways planned for the next several months so there will be plenty of chances to be a lucky winner!

Lauren, Cherise and Angi - please email me at so that we can arrange your prizes!

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend,

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Another GIVEAWAY! A six-month subscription to our Thread Club!

We've got another gift to give away! TWO 6-month subscriptions to our 10-skein monthly thread club!  If you are an existing subscriber you are more than welcome to enter to have this giveaway applied to your existing account.

To enter to win:
  • Please be a follower or email subscriber of our blog if possible (link can be found in the sidebar)
  • Leave a comment and tell us which Halloween patterns are on your list to stitch this year or any other charts you're working on! (+1 entry)
  • Share on your blog or social media, and be sure to tag us or let us know in the comments (+5 entries)
The drawing will be Saturday, July 14 at noon CST.


GIVEAWAY! Vintage Halloween Mystery Box...

Hello, stitchy friends!  It's been too long...

Last week we launched our first limited edition mystery box - Vintage Halloween - and I can't tell you how excited I am about curating this for you!  The response was overwhelming and from the bottom of my heart I can't thank you enough for your enthusiasm.

What will our first mystery box entail, and how did this idea come about?  As a dyer I absolutely love working in color palettes and find so much inspiration in working with a theme or specific atmosphere in mind.  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I live for Halloween stitching, so it naturally felt like a wonderful first theme for the box concept, which is something I've been toying with for some time.

The mystery box will include ten skeins of hand dyed stranded cotton thread, two skeins of hand dyed silk (12-ply) thread, two pieces of hand dyed fabric for stitching, one piece of hand dyed cotton for finishing, and other notions and goodies which are coming from a couple of my favorite vendors in the stitching community!  Each of the threads and fabrics will suit a vintage, primitive Halloween theme, although the colors can stand on their own as well.

Available spots have already sold out and deposits have been made, but we are still accepting wait list sign ups in the event that anyone cancels, or if we are able to add additional spots.  As we were taken quite by surprise at the interest around this box, I want to offer an opportunity to gift a spot for anyone who did not have the chance to sign up

And now for the giveaway!  To enter to win a Vintage Halloween Limited Edition Mystery Box for yourself, or to give to a friend:

  • Please be a follower or email subscriber of our blog if possible (link can be found in the sidebar)
  • Leave a comment and tell us which Halloween patterns are on your list to stitch this year (+1 entry)
  • Share on your blog or social media, and be sure to tag us or let us know in the comments (+5 entries)
The drawing will be Saturday, July 14 at noon CST.

Thank you, and happy stitching!


Monday, July 9, 2018

June Monthly Fabric Club

New fabric colors from the June club!

Sangria - Aida
Smoke - Aida
Irish Green - Various Linens
Carrara Marble - Various Linens
Irish Green - Joeblan 32 ct
Sangria - Jobelan 32 ct
Spellbook - Jobelan 32 ct

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Confessions of a FlossTuber: Colour and Cotton

This month I was honored to chat with Ginger Gerald Stitcher for his wonderful series, Confessions of a FlossTuber.  It was such a blast to share a little more about how Colour and Cotton came to be and how I develop my colors.

I've gotten to know Gerald over the last couple of years and he is such an integral part of the stitching community.  His Confessions series interviews FlossTubers and others in the fiber arts world for fresh conversations about stitching, business and more.  If you haven't already, I highly recommend giving the other episodes a watch as well!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

March 2018 Thread Club Revealed

Happy Saturday, my friends!  It's rainy and dreary here today in Missouri but here in the bright studio I continue to play with all the spring colors...
The March Thread Club, I hope, was a cheerful and bright addition to your stash.
The ten new colors this month are (from left to right):
  • Mint Macaron (a semi-solid light mint)
  • Lemongrass (a pale yellow semi-solid with just the tiniest inclination toward green)
  • Bunny Nose (a cool light pink)
  • Sherbet (a pale orange that reminds me of Circus Peanuts!)
  • Flamingo (a bright salmon with tonal variegation)
  • Wisteria (lavender with hints of more violet variegation)
  • Calliope (my favorite, a blend of pale blue, lavender and mint)
  • Leprechaun (a bright springy green with hints of gold)
  • Verbena (a cool pale green)
  • Miami (a saturated fuchsia)
For those who are subscribed to the 5-skein club, colors included Miami, Flamingo, Wisteria, Verbena and Leprechaun.
The 3-skein subscribers received Miami, Wisteria and Verbena.
All of the new colors will be available to purchase in the shop soon!  In the meantime, I have enjoyed seeing people break into their skeins already and post WIPs including some of these new shades.  Don't forget to use the #colourandcotton tag on Instagram for us to see your work, or join our Colour and Cotton Stitchers Facebook group!
Have a wonderful rest of the weekend - it's back to fabric club preparations for me!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Welcome! And a March Thread Club Update...

Hello, my sweet stitching friends!  Angela here, with a new little way to share a bit more behind the scenes of my dye studio.  I've wanted write about my business for quite a while.   
Today, I thought to myself - it's time! 
One of my favorite parts of this experience has been connecting with friends from truly all over the world.  Social media has been a wonderful thing in expanding my circle of stitching friends, but it can sometimes feel abbreviated...and with seemingly endless changes to algorithms, you never quite know who you're reaching at any given time.  I'm excited about the opportunity to write and share in greater detail what fills my days as the one-woman-and-two-dog-show of Colour and Cotton!  I hope you'll grab a cup of your favorite coffee or tea and spend just a few minutes with me each week.
I can't quite believe that it's nearly March.  This week has been filled with floss winding and dyeing...increasingly no small feat as each month I welcome more and more subscribers into my little stitching family - I thank each and every one of you so much!
Procion dyes
The studio is bursting with containers of dye, mixing utensils and measuring cups.  Not much hope of keeping things tidy when it's thread week!  These days I dye over 10,000 yards of thread each month for club orders and even in the expanded studio, space is a precious commodity!
February's thread club colors were inspired by many requests for neutrals, which perhaps surprisingly, are my favorite to dye!  Greys and browns are, for me, among the most challenging colors to dye as it requires mixtures of other primary colors and the final color can be accidentally shifted in the direction of green or blue all too easily.  
For March, I knew I needed to share with you some refreshing bright and springtime colors!
Don't be disconcerted by the neon orange!  These threads were quite a different color once dry.  Always makes for a little surprise when test dyeing threads for the first time.  (And sometimes makes for a bit of a bummer when the final dry result is much different than you anticipated!)
For each month's club colors, I test anywhere from 20-25 dyes searching for the perfect assortment of five colors.  Three of those five colors are selected for the three-skein subscribers, and another five colors are added to the primary five colors for those who receive ten skeins a month.
Lots of new pastels which didn't make the five-skein thread club cut will be added directly to the shop, once skeined and tagged!
The March thread club orders will be shipping tomorrow through Saturday.  Please watch for your shipment confirmations and as always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns!
Have a wonderful rest of the week!