Dyeing Thread

While perusing the latest Quilting Arts Magazine I was inspired to experiment with dyeing cotton thread using DMC Floss Holders after reading Thread Dyeing 101: Two Approaches by Carol Soderlund and Melanie Testa.  I really want to work more in dyeing silk thread after my class with Peg Gignoux.  However, this was a quick and cheap experiment since I could get all the materials on sale at Jo-Ann's with their million coupons.  For the experiment I used DMC StitchBow Floss Holders and DMC Pearl Cotton Size 12 in White

Because I generally dye in small batches, my go to book for Dyeing Recipes is Color By Accident (Low-Water Immersion Dyeing) by Ann Johnston.  I wanted to experiment with colors to coordinate with some fabrics I had previously dyed in my Grey Experiment which I will detail in a subsequent post.

It is very important to take notes while you are dyeing or you will never remember dye stock amounts, dye bath timing, etc.  TRUST ME!!!!  YOU WILL NOT REMEMBER!  I number my dye buckets or my ziplock bags with a Sharpie and then make notes in a notebook for corresponding dye stock amounts and timing.  

Thread Dyeing Steps:

  • wrap the thread in manageable lengths on the floss holders
  • prewash the wrapped floss holders in the sink with hot water and Synthrapol
  • soak wrapped floss holders in Soda Ash solution
  • prepare dye stock
  • decide on development time and dye stock amounts
  • make note of time & dye stock amounts selected (you will never remember later so take the time to do this now before you don your rubber gloves again)
  • Measure out Soda Ash solution into number buckets
  • Add dye stock
  • Time for desired length of time
  • Drain bucket or bag
  • Rinse wrapped floss holders with alternating hot and cold water until the water runs clear
  • Wash wrapped floss holders by hand with Synthrapol and hot water
  • Rinse
  • Hang to dry

Dyed Thread 1-5 left to right


For the above threads I used 1/2 cup of Soda Ash Solution and Soaked for 15minutes.

Dye Stock Amounts for 1-5 (left to right) See Current Dye list for Experiments for additional info on Dye:

  1. G&K 6160 Stormy Grey  1/4 tsp
  2. Dharma 44 Better Black 1/4 tsp
  3. G&K 5193 Bronze 1/4 tsp
  4. Mix of Dharma 23 Cerulean Blue 1/4 tsp & Dharma 44 Better Black
  5. Pre Dyed in #3 then quick overdye dip in #4 

I found that the dye coverage was basically consistent.  I like irregularity so I wasn't trying for perfect color but with little to no effort other than wrapping loosely and agitating the dye bath once or twice the color was still pretty consistent.  Wrapping tighter or wrapping longer length of thread might cause more irregularity so keep that in mind based on the results you want.  After dyeing, the thread did not fuzz and sews well on the current project I am testing it on.  I was happy with the way the floss holders managed the thread for dyeing and storage.  They can easily be reused.  Braiding lengths works well for times I want more variegation but the floss holders worked well for me for a more uniformed color.