Helen Howes Textiles

How To Dye Thread - Tutorial

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I have a liking for hand-dyed fabrics, and of course, for hand-dyed thread. And I get asked "how?" (and sometimes "why?"), so here is a set of instructions for you
This is for natural fibres of the Plant Persuasion (cotton, bamboo, ramie, rayon, linen, silk) using Procion (fibre-reactive) dyes

Start with good quality thread - I use cotton, linen, and silk, and mixtures of these. Rayon can be dyed but is beastly to handle. Do not use anything with a synthetic component, or you will get spotty or rather boring results.

It's quite hard to handle threads direct from the balls, so I wind first into a "cheese"

And then onto a skein - I use a "swift" but a biggish piece of stiff card will do for small amounts, and you can bypass the cheese stage if you are patient (I am not...)

Tie the skeins in at least 4 or 5 places, loosely, with a different thread if possible (this makes it easier to rewind later)

Twist the skeins lightly until you have enough for your dye session
Soak your threads in soda-ash solution (1 cup to a bucket of warm water) for at least 15 minutes

Lay your skeins in small containers, with a piece of similarly soda-soaked fabric underneath. You can use one colour, or many. Squish very gently, WITH YOUR RUBBER GLOVES ON...!
Stack the containers or put the lids on; leave somewhere warm for 24 hours
Rinse till the water runs clear in lots of COLD water (you can soak in a bucket for a couple of hours, this helps, too)
HOT wash, in those little net bags you get for washing babies' socks, by machine, or very thoroughly by hand (keep those gloves on...)

And dry

Rewind from the skein into smaller amounts for using or giving to your amazingly grateful friends..

Can't be bothered? Buy threads HERE...