Monday, July 27, 2020

Mark-making & Dyeing perle cotton

July is almost finished! For a while it looked like it would never end....and now it's almost done! The heat and humidity has left me estivating - not going out if I can help it, so of course, that means working with fabrics, with a little paint and dye on the side to spice things up! 😊

Mark-making with Colour Vie

Almost three years ago, Out of the Box Fibre Artists Group had Gunnel Hag as their speaker. She has developed a pigment system, Colour Vie that is great to paint and screen printing. I tried it out when my artist friend, Lyne, came to visit (see Related links below). I had liked playing with them but haven't touched them since, Paint makes me nervous....

As you may know, I've been following's Stitch Club 2020 and this week's presenter was Gregory T. Wilkins. Our assignment was to make marks with paint and then add stitches to it. In two different sessions, I took out my Colour Vie pigments and made marks using all kinds of things like forks, a silk flower, stamps and stencils. I made 8 blocks on one piece of cotton fabric that was divided using green painter's tape. Between sessions, I ironed on a few pieces of freezer paper to cover some of the things I liked and I also added painter's tape to keep some spots blank.

I'm going to use Panel 4 for my workshop piece.

Here are the finished panels with the tape removed. I liked panel 4 the best for doing my project but there are various parts of each panel that I like - so one day I just might cut them up and put them back together - cause that's what quilters do! 

Eight panels with marks

I have started stitching on Panel 4. 

Running stitch and French knots
using #12 perle cotton
Running stitch and satin stitches
The centre is #8 perle cotton

The red/raspberry perle cotton that I used is the thread that I dyed a few days ago.😊

Lots of possibilities for embroidering some of the marks!

Dyeing perle cotton

My artist friend, Elaine Quehl, has taught courses in fabric and thread dyeing. To be honest, I couldn't understand why anyone would want to dye thread....well it turns out that she mostly dyed perle cotton. Since she had some extra from her class, I bought some white #8 and #12 perle cotton and did a little bit of experimenting. Thanks Elaine for your support - I should have taken your class😊

I also tend to get nervous about fabric dyeing - so to keep it low stress, I try to work in small batches. I made 2 skeins each of white #8 and #12 perle cotton. I very carefully placed them in the soda ash and water solution. Thread can very easily tangle, so they need to be handled with lots of care!

I placed the skeins in a wash basin and covered three of them with the dark raspberry dye. I then added water to the dye and used that for the last skein of thread. 

Skeins soaking to stop the dye  
from bleeding
Drying in the hallway -
it was too cold in the basement!

Helping me keep the thread from tangling
while I transfer it to spools

Several spools of  #8 and #12 perle cotton

Since I was in the basement dyeing perle cotton, I thought that I might as well dye a little bit of fabric. I dyed some cheese cloth and a strip of linen using the left-over raspberry dye. I also cut up a piece from my mother's use-to-be-white cotton sheet to see if I could do anything with it. The sheet is in great shape, just not white anymore. For this experiment, I dyed a piece of sheet using some left-over dye from a snow dyeing class that Pat, another artist taught. The dye combined many left-over colours and was a few months old, but I figured that I had nothing to loose. I folded one end of the fabric and tied it off, while I scrunched up the other end of the fabric and also tied it.

Here are the results. You saw the cheesecloth drying in the image above.

The scrunched up and tied end of the fabric

The other end of the fabric - folded and tied 

A piece of now light pink linen

What I learned
  • I love the gray coloured fabric. What a wonderful surprise! I should dye more fabric before the dye changes. 
  • The light pink linen was only left in the dye bath for about 10 hours, while the thread was in there for over a day, so that might account for the difference. However, the cheesecloth was only in the dye bath for 10 hours also. I think that the perle cotton and the cheesecloth may have absorbed the dye well because it's only a strand and not woven tightly. If you know the answer, please let me know!
  • The first skein of perle cotton that I placed on a spool went well, for about half. Then I got impatient and it got tangled. The good news is that since I don't want to machine stitch with it, different lengths of thread on a spool is not a bad thing, as long as they are each long enough to embroider with 😊.
  • I love the dyed perle cotton. It is quite a bit of work but mostly tedious, like making the skeins and then transferring to spools. I have two colours of perle cotton - a raspberry and a pink. You can see these in the images of the embroidered paint-marked fabric.
  • I also had a great time mark-making on the fabric. I was going to stop at 6 panels but then experimented with some fun texture techniques on the last two panels. As I mentioned, all of the pieces have some lovely parts that will get used some day!
Related links
Linking parties
I'll be linking up to many fun linky parties, including Free Motion Mavericks - where you don't have to be doing FMQ to link up! Muv will be hosting on Thursday, so don't miss it! Monday Making, Off the Wall Friday, Design Wall Monday, What I Made Monday, Colour & Inspiration Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Needle & Thread Thursday, TGIFF, Finished or Not Finished Friday, Off The Wall Friday, Slow Sunday Stitching


  1. thank you for the link to the I didnt know about the site and its in the UK just like me.

  2. I am really going to have to try this. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Denise, I hope that you have fun! Take care.

  3. Hi Andrée,
    Your blog is so informative - I learn something new each week. Do you think the floss will bleed when you use it in a project later? I have had Perle Cotton bleed on my redwork project, and it surprised me - I hadn't thought it would do that. Thanks for linking with Design Wall Mondays, Judy

    1. I've heard about red perle cotton bleeding but after soaking it into the solution, I rinsed it a couple of times and it came out clear. I've just dyed some grey/black thread and again, after soaking it, it's running clear so I think that it will be fine. Thanks for asking - that's a very important point!

  4. Merci pour le lien. Tes fils teints sont magnifiques !

  5. What a great challenge = I like your piece!! the way you made each frame is really cool!

    1. Thanks Alycia. It was a lot of fun playing with paint...who knew?

  6. Hello Andrée, I'm transfixed by the big pink flowers in panel 4. They have taken me straights back to the 1960s. You could print your own fabric for a fabulous summer top!
    Love, Muv


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