Tag: is your thread colourfast

Derwent Inktense Blocks on Fabric

Ever since I cleared out my art supply collection before we moved, I’ve been thinking about what sorts of supplies really fit my needs.

My default colouring mechanism is watercolour, usually straight from the tube, which is great on paper, if a little slow-drying for the amount of time I usually have to work on things.

Evie 's Treasure Map - hand painted and stitched - Misericordia 2014

I tried watercolours on fabric, but all my successes were tempered by some pretty frustrating failures when the colours bled.

Today has not been the best day ever… #fail #paintrunning #perilsofstarch #badday #workinprogress #wip

A photo posted by Katy Bromberg (@mymisericordia) on

I was searching for a more portable watercolour solution that would let me work on paper in shorter bursts and came across Derwent Inktense Pencils and Blocks. The idea is that you can put them on paper dry and then use a water wash to blend for a permanent colour. They’re great for layering with watercolours, because you can put in a background or base colour and if you work over it with other water-soluble colours, it won’t wash out.

Derwent Inktense Blocks by Misericordia

I thought I’d try out some of the blocks for big backgrounds and colour washes in Little Lion’s baby book and really enjoyed using them. Recently, I invested in the pencils, for more detailed work, but I must admit that I haven’t even taken them out of their box yet!

Derwent Inktense Pencils by Misericordia

I have an embroidery which is languishing while I work out if I can use Inktense bars or pencils on fabric, so I’ve been fiddling about with different ways of making them colourfast.

Heat Setting Inktense Blocks by Misericordia

Washing Inktense samples by Misericordia

I’m not entirely happy with the bleeding I get after washing, but I wonder if:

No heat Inktense samples by Misericordia

a. The bars lay down more pigment than the fabric can hold, which is causing the excess colour to wash away, or

Heat set Inktense bars by Misericordia


b. I diluted the medium too much so it can’t do its job. (It was a very unscientific process, I’m ashamed to admit.)

Liquitex Fabric Medium by Misericordia

My next steps are probably to try the medium with the pencils, which is how I’m most likely to use them on fabric.

Inktense heat set samples with medium by Misericordia

I’ll keep you updated!

(If you’d like to profit from more of my colourfast disasters experiments, why not check out my tutorial on how to tell if your thread is colourfast?)

Is your thread colourfast?

I’ve been sewing a long time, and I consider myself fairly au fait with the trials and tribulations which can occur while wielding a needle and thread (having experienced them all at least three times before learning better).

But I did find myself rather aghast when the dark blue thread on a recent piece bled and I had to do the whole thing again!

colourfast title

Changes in the chemicals used to dye thread means that water soluble dyes are more common (good for the environment) and the dyes can bleed or run into surrounding areas while they’re being washed (bad for the stitcher).

So profit from my experience, and before you set off an a grand embroidery adventure try this test.

colourfast 1

Snip off a short length of thread, dampen it and place on some white kitchen towel to dry. If there is a stain, you can either set the entire skein of thread or adjust your washing techniques accordingly.

colourfast 2

You set the colour by soaking the skein in salt water and then rinsing in lots of cold water until it runs clear. (Various methods include adding the salt to boiling water and letting it cool or adding two tablespoons each of salt and white vinegar to cool water.) Allow the skein to air dry and then use as normal. (Don’t get too cocky once you’ve set your skein, it can still run if you use hot water or steam!)

A few caveats – just because one section of a skein doesn’t run doesn’t mean another part won’t. In general, the deeper and more saturated the colour, the more likely it is to run. Reds, dark blues, dark purples and black are ones to watch out for. Use the test as an indication and then balance the hassle of setting the skein against the frustration of having the thread run.

colourfast 3

Wash your piece in cold water with pH balanced detergent (I throw a little salt and vinegar in, just in case) and rinse. If you do get a run, keep rinsing – you can also run an ice cube on the affected part to help remove the stain.

If you don’t have to wash your piece, don’t! You can also mist it with cold water before pressing for a happy medium.

Have you ever had a problem with running thread dyes? Any fabulous solutions?

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