Dyeing embroidery thread

What fun to have beautifully dyed threads to use in embroidery or couching on your quilts. I try to keep a supply of skeins of white thread in bags to toss in with anything I dye. Remember to soak in soda ash first.
This thread is made for crocheting dollies and bedspreads - not my thing. It is called Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton. It is mercerized - a BIG bonus because mercerized cotton REALLY takes color well. The Walmart link is to the cotton thread. First of all the cotton thread comes in a few different sizes. I use #3 which a thicker pearl cotton weight.
The thread on the left is #10 and the right is #3. The thinner thread is relatively easy to get through the eye of a needle and the #3 pearl cotton is a bit more of a chore. They each make a statement on fabric. This is how I make my skeins.
I found this HUGE skein of cotton on sale somewhere for about $9.00 so I grabbed it. I usually buy skeins about the size of an orange. They are easier to handle.
I cut a piece of foam board from the Dollar store 18" long. As you can see, mine has seen better days.
Next I put the big ball in a container. With the smaller balls, I can drop them in a cardboard box which I keep at my feet. This big ball needed a heavier container. I might use a heavy plastic bin. Today I made do with this arrangement.
I pulled out some thread and lined up the end of the thread with the end of the foam board leaving a tail about 4" long.
Then I wrapped the thread around and around the foam board 20 times giving me 20 yards.
 This is the end of the wrapping. I cut another tail the same length so I could tie them off.
 I slid one end under the threads
and tied a knot.

Next I slip the thread off the foam board.
Now I needed help with the pictures since I had to use 2 hands. I slipped my fingers into the end loops and started to twist my fingers in opposite directions.
I continued to twist until it was tight on my finger tips.
Then I carefully slipped one end off one finger and pushed it into the loop from the other finger.
Then guided the skein into a twist using the lower hand.
I can work up these white cotton skeins at night while watching TV and I keep them in bags in my dyeing cabinet so that I don't forget to add them when dyeing.
You can really see the difference in the sizes of the #3 on right and the #10 on the left.
This thread is so yummy when dyed you can easily get addicted.


Now, after dyeing, washing out and drying the thread, it is time to actually use it.

Open out the twisted skein of thread into the original circle

Find the knot you made and tie it again twice very tightly

Take scissors and cut about a 1/2 inch from the knot

Now when you need a piece of thread to embroider with, just tease out one strand and pull

You will have one easily removed piece of dyed thread about 30 " long - a perfect length - to sew with.

When you are done sewing just fold the length of thread over once (about 15") and secure with a LOOSE overhand knot and store. Easy Peasy!!


  1. Decided I needed to dye up some thread for a project, so googled "dyeing thread" and immediately got to your tutorial--what fun to find exactly what I needed (complete with photos), and by someone I already know and trust! Thanks much.

  2. I am going to try this for sure. Looks easy enough that I could do it. Thanks. Pam Gonzalez

  3. This is fantastic! I've dyed thread but never thought to make my own skeins. I will look at those big balls of thread differently next time I'm in the store! Thanks for the tutorial.

  4. Hi! How do you wash your thread after dying? Doesn't it get tangled??

    1. I put the skeins in a small lingerie bag (net with a zipper) and put it in the washing machine along with an fabric I dyed. I use Synthropol.


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