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:
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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