Friday, April 8, 2016

Cross dyed and yarn dyed fabrics


My latest project, just needing it's hem, is made from the Kaufman fabric below, their "yarn dyed linen blend" that you see here in blue. Mine is black. These fabrics can present a bit of a challenge which I will show in a moment but first a little education. 

There are cross dyed fabrics and yarn dyed fabrics.  From Fabricdictionary.com we have the following definition of cross dyed fabrics: " A method of coloring fabrics made from more than one kind of fiber, for example, a wool and cotton blend. Each fiber in a fabric designed for cross-dyeing takes a specific dye in a different color or in variations of a color. A fabric that is cross dyed is more than one color. Cross dyeing is often used to create heather effects (soft, misty coloring), but strongly patterned fabrics can also be achieved, depending on the fibers used in the fabrics."  In other words each fiber takes the dye differently and the fabric blend is dyed after it has been woven. Per the manufacturer, the  green below is cross dyed and "heathery" looking.  



Per Fabric.com and other sources, "When a fabric is yarn dyed, the color is placed in the yarn or threads before weaving."  The linen blend below is yarn dyed with blue threads and white threads. 





photo courtesy fabric.com

I really like these yarn dyed linen/cotton blends and have used them before several times. They have a soft heathery look and don't wrinkle like 100% linen. They are great for casual wear. They can also be a quite casual look as you see in the red plaid above. Think gingham and you have yarn dyed fabric.  Now for the challenges!

This all over heather effect in the fabric I am using for my skirt is simply the white threads going top to bottom which is called the  "warp". The black threads going left to right are the "weft".  If you look at the picture below you can see the threads and how they differ on the raveling edges, black on the sides, white top and bottom.





What I have learned from sewing this fabric several times is that you can get surprising results with your topstitching.  In the pic above black thread is used in the right hand side stitches. White thread, which doesn't look it, used in the middle stitches. The white zigzag came out totally gray. This fabric even affects the color of your thread! I stitched several samples and every time the snow white thread look gray on it in zigzag form. The sample shows how the stitches can look irregular and just not good. Those little slubs and nubs of the opposing colors really make an impact.  But if you can figure out the natural compromise between the two colors, like the grey used on the left hand stitches, the stitching will look much better. There is something about using the actual fabric color, here, black or white thread, that has  the opposite fiber peeking out to make things look irregular. By using a "compromise thread", the gray, the  colors blend and make the stitching look smoother. For the record, the far left gray line of stitching is a triple straight stitch, one I like a lot for topstitching. Next, to the right, is a regular straight stitch, and to the right of that is a satin stitch done to the same width and length as the black and white. And let's face it, this is brutally close up. There's not a lot of topstitching in my skirt but there are plenty of buttonholes. After making sample BHs it was clear the gray thread was a better choice.  Also, my machine makes beautiful topstitching on every other fabric. It's just some sort of illusory magic that is happening with this yarn dyed fabric. The lesson here is try to figure out what the  best "compromise" thread would be when stitching these fabrics.

And no discussion of yarn dyed or cross dyed fabrics would be complete without some pictures of iridescent silk dupionies. These are just so luscious. Using strongly contrasting warp and weft colors in a fabric that has a brilliant luster by its very nature makes for one of my favorite fabrics.  This is one of those seductive fabrics I just like to look at and don't even have to use to enjoy. Here are some pics courtesy of Silk Baron. 

Gold and fuchsia threads:


violet and red:


Tangerine and violet:


While I haven't used the iridescent dupionis in a garment I would think a bit of extra care and some samples would definitely be the smart way to get the best stitching needed.   Audition  your thread options instead of just taking a matching color and stitching away. You'll be glad you did!
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Happy sewing!
Bunny

22 comments:

  1. A fascinating post. I hadn't realised that the colour of the thread would appear so markedly different in different stitches. I have some purple/green iridescent silk dupioni. Very nice - working up to it.

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    1. Those iridescent dupionis are so gorgeous. I would love to know what you plan on making. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  2. A fascinating post. I hadn't realised that the colour of the thread would appear so markedly different in different stitches. I have some purple/green iridescent silk dupioni. Very nice - working up to it.

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  3. Hello Bunny and thanks for your post, very interesting! I have just bought, and pre-washed, a length of Essex linen, which looks exactly like the sample you've used to demonstrate top-stitching thread colours. I'm going to have a play about with colours now as I can see it makes a big difference! Thank you.

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    1. I think you will enjoy this fabric. Other than the thread issue, its very user friendly.Good luck.

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  4. Fascinating. I do remember once having a really hard time matching thread to a length of silk dupioni. Now I know why! And by coincidence, I was just looking at the Essex linen on fabric.com. Where do you buy yours?

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  5. It sounds like what happens when using identical fabrics for adjacent pieces in quilt blocks only on a much smaller scale - the eye just blends the same color bits into one piece. In this case, making the stitching look lumpy. Those dupioni fabrics are gorgeous, too bad I have no occasion to wear them. Maybe I should have just a bit for the stash to pet now and then?

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  6. Very interesting post. I have some linen/cotton blend in brown, that I haven't made into a garment yet. Now I know to test the threads for topstitching. Thanks!

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  7. How interesting! I used irridescent two-tone dupion for my wife's wedding dress, which is bronze shot with lilac. It looked absolutely glorious on our wedding day: in full sunshine it shimmered, in shade she had a lovely purplish glow, and indoors, had a soft, but metallic sheen. Wonderful to work with too!

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  8. I always learn something from your posts or refresh the memory bank! Making topstitching samples for my client Nancy always brings about real cool results...what thread color and stitch you THINK might be the best is not always what we end up using.

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  9. This is great information & the method of choosing thread comes into play in my longarm quilting, too! I usually just puddle the thread on top but your method of sewing samples is very eye opening. It comes at a very opportune time, as I debate the use of a rainbow thread for quilting a two-color quilt. I shall experiment today!!! Thanks for the nudge to sew on some scraps first to see how it will look on BOTH colors.

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  10. This is perfect timing. I have some Essex linen that is light grey/white and I am planning on making a Spring jacket out of it. And I have some of the Brussels washer linen (which is a rayon/linen mix) that is yarn dyed (in blue) for a skirt.

    Question: Do you think the Essex is a good light jacket weight? I was planning on Butterick 6169.

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  11. I used thi in the fall for a light jacket, a Marcy Tilton design. Here's a link: http://lasewist.blogspot.com/2015/10/vogue-9035-foiled-top-from-marcy-tilton.html As far as B 6169, I would probably block fuse the fabric with a tricot fusible. Those zippers and the collar really need something slightly more substantial.

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  12. It is fascinating how the colors of the yarn dye fabric plays with the eye. Your post also emphasizes the importance of making samples prior to sewing the garment. Great post!

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  13. I love shot silks so much The front underskirt of my deep purple velvet wedding dress was old gold shot with inky indigo, which came out looking purple. I bought the piece of silk in 1983, and so I'd had it for 20 years before it finally got used. I've also made shirts and trousers from silk dupion (as we call it) by prewashing it to make it a lot softer, and sadly a little less lustrous. This doesn't work so well when the warp and weft colours are very different saturations as the dye comes out of the darker and tints the lighter. But it is still lovely. worth a go maybe? It machine washes or hand washes quite well on gentle cycles, so long as you don't use a detergent with enzymes in it!

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    1. We call the enzyme soaps BIZ over here. I love it and use it a lot but never on protein fibers like silk and wool.

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    2. You can't beat it for getting stains out of clothes though. But I am wary of using it on cotton and linen too - I know they're not protein based fabrics but they are still organic matter. We can never win!

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  14. Crossed dyed fabrics are some of my favorites. They are interesting to fringe in that you will get a different color depending on what edge, vertical or horizontal, you work with. Similar to cross dyed dupioni, cross dyed chiffons are beautiful too but the iridescence is softer. Interesting results from your topstitching experiment. thanks for sharing.

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  15. This is the first time I've seen your site. It's great. I'm adding it to Favorites. Thanks for the great and fun ideas

    Silk Chiffon Fabric NYC

    Silk Organza Fabric NYC

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