How to Dye Cross Stitch Fabrics

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Most cross stitch fabric is offered in basic solid colors, such as white, off-white or black. Sometimes it would be nice to have a different colored background for your stitched masterpiece to set against. It's easy enough to dye the fabric, since all you need are a few household items and some fabric.

  • Determine what kind of color you want for your fabric. If you want something colorful, try using a package of an artificially flavored drink. Soak the fabric in a solution of the dissolved package and warm water. This works well if you choose a blue color and don't want to stitch blue for the entire sky.

  • Purchase fabric dye at a grocery store, retail department store or craft store. Use one teaspoon of the dye, 1 cup of hot water (140 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1 tsp. salt. Dissolve the dye and salt into the water. Dab damp paper towels in the dyed water, and dab it onto your fabric. Make sure to wring out excess dye in the towel before dabbing, unless you want a darker color.

  • Brew some coffee, and soak your cross stitch fabric in the coffee to dye it. For a darker color, use unbrewed coffee, as well as darker coffee beans.

  • Boil 4 cups of water for each yard of fabric you want to dye. Add two tea bags per cup of water. Let the tea sit for five minutes, then soak your fabric. Rinse the fabric in cold water only if you want to remove much of the dark color. Only use this for smaller canvases, since tea doesn't color evenly.

  • Dry your material in a clothes dryer, making sure to set the dryer on high and tumble dry. You could also line dry. Iron your fabric on a hot setting to secure the color. Make sure you do this only after you're satisfied with the color, as you can't start over once the color is set. For fabric-dyed material, place damp paper towels between the fabric and the iron.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember that fabric dries lighter, so the color you see when the fabric is wet isn't necessarily the color you will have once it's dry.
  • If you do decide to dye the color of your pattern's background, make sure it complements your design. Think about how it would affect the overall appearance when used with your embroidery floss.
  • Don't use tea if you want the dyed color to stay for years since the acids in tea degrade after three to four decades. If you want your fabric to stand the test of time, use coffee, since that should last 75 to 100 years.

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