Sense and Sensibility Fabric Tutorial

The Sense and Sensibility SAL features a hand dyed fabric in a lovely shade of antique blue. I decided to dye the fabric myself because I found that most blue fabrics were too light in color to allow the white floss featured in this design to be properly seen. Below you will find information on how I dyed this fabric so that you can create it yourself. For your reference, the closest DMC color is 827.

The key to this fabric is to get an even dye with as little color variation as possible. To accomplish this you must attend to the fabric throughout the entire dyeing process. This process also requires several things that, once used for the dyeing process, cannot be used in the kitchen for any food preparation. If you are unable to acquire a pot for this purpose, you can use a different kind of container that is able to withstand boiling water. You can find measuring spoons and tongs at discount stores like Ross or Home Goods for only a few dollars and can later be reused for any future dyeing projects.

Materials needed:
*10 X 12 piece of cross stitch fabric (You may wish to cut it slightly larger so that you can trim the edges after. The fabric will also shrink pretty significantly during the dyeing process so don't be alarmed by that.)
*Large pot or other container that can withstand boiling water (this pot or container cannot be used for food preparation after dye has been used. The pot needs to be large enough that the fabric fits comfortably in the bottom without being bunched up too tightly. However, it is not necessary for the fabric to lay perfectly flat.)
*Evening Blue Rit dye
*Measuring cup (will only be used with water)
*1/2 teaspoon (cannot be used for food preparation after dye. You can obviously use whatever sized measuring spoon you prefer but you must be able to measure out a total of 1/2 teaspoon of dye)
*Tongs or other utensil for turning the fabric (cannot be used for food preparation after dye)
*Towel (will get blue dye on it)
*Rubber gloves so that you don't get Smurf hands from the dye

For this dyeing process you will be using a water to dye ratio of 4 cup of water : 1/2 teaspoon of dye.

Begin by filling your pot with 4 cups of water and heat until it has reached a near boil. It is not necessary to reach an actual boil but it should be steaming and in the pre-boil stage with bubbles forming on the bottom of the pot. If you are using a different container for the actual dyeing process, you can now transfer your hot water to the dyeing container.

Next, make sure that your dye has been shaken up in the bottle, then add 1/2 teaspoon to your water and stir until the dye is evenly distributed.

If you are dyeing in a pot on the stove, you can now turn the heat all the way off but leave it sitting on the hot burner.

To prepare your fabric, moisten the entire piece with cold water and then ring out the excess water. Add the damp fabric to your dye mixture. Using your tongs, arrange the fabric so that as much of it is covered by the dye as possible. If there are bits of fabric sticking out that's okay, just get as much covered as you can.

Set your timer for 20 minutes.

Let the fabric sit in the dye for about 2 minutes, then using your tongs flip the fabric over and rearrange so that it is once again as submerged as possible.

Repeat this process every 2-3 minutes making sure to rearrange the fabric each time so that there are different folds than the previous turn. You can fiddle with the fabric in-between turns also. The more you rearrange the fabric, the more even the dye job will be but I found that just turning and rearranging every 2-3 minutes created pretty even results. 

Once the 20 minutes have elapsed you can remove the fabric from the dye with the tongs and place it on your towel. It will leave a blue stain so make sure it is a towel that you do not care for. Allow the fabric to cool for a moment before handling.

Now, put on your gloves and take your fabric to the sink and rinse for a few minutes to ensure that all of the loose dye is removed. Using a clean area of your towel, roll the fabric into the towel and press to remove as much water as possible.

Please note that your fabric will appear quite dark at this point. You will be amazed by how much the color lightens as the fabric dries.

Before hanging to dry, stretch the fabric with your hands in every direction to reshape and to remove as many wrinkles as possible.

For the best results you may want to iron your fabric before it is fully dry. With only a little dampness left, press with an iron to remove all of the deepest wrinkles. If the fabric dries fully before ironing, you may need to steam to remove the deepest wrinkles. It is always a good idea with hand-dyed fabric to place a scrap piece of fabric under it so that any remaining loose dye won't ruin your ironing board.

Trim the rough edges off and your fabric is ready for stitching!

*** All of the measurements in this tutorial are for dyeing a piece of fabric measuring 10 inches by 12 inches. If you are dyeing a larger piece of fabric, you will likely need to increase the water and dye. For example, I dyed fabric measuring 20 X 24 and used 10 cups of water with 1 1/4 teaspoons of dye.


  1. You put so much love into this. Thank you!

  2. Can I still sign up for this Stitch along?

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