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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Say Cheese: the Wonders of Cheesecloth

I'm always on the hunt for cool new sheers. Why?


So many things really are see through. Flowers, water, air, smoke, fire  and ice are all if not see through, translucent.  So it makes sense to use see through and translucent fabrics to represent them. 


In the quest for the new, some while back, I discovered something old. I wish I remembered the name of the lady who showed me. I was in Athens, Georgia, teaching. A lovely woman from Germany pulled out a wad of cheesecloth. I was in love! What a wonderful fiber!


This is exactly the same cheesecloth that you use in the kitchen. It's 100% cotton so it dyes beautifully. And because it's so thinly woven, it's sheer. But because it's hand-dyed, it can have all the amazing mottled surface of hand dye.




This rose and its leaves are almost all cheesecloth. They've been put on with Steam-A-Seam 2, my favorite fusible. And then stitched with metallic and polyester 40 weight threads.


There's no trick to dyeing cheesecloth. It dyes perfectly with fiber reactive dyes, just like other cottons. The trick is in washing it out. It's a bad boy and it needs to be kept isolated to  make sure it doesn't tangle or shred. I put mine in a tied nylon knee high, and then stuff it in a nylon laundry bag. That keeps it from getting mangled. The one time I had a whole bag of cheesecloth get loose in the washer, it became a solid mass of cheesecloth. For a while, I wore it like a fox wrap. Then I gave it to someone who made paper with the fibers. There's always a use somewhere. 


And like most wonderful things, it can be used in other ways. I've always offered the idea of using lime green cheesecloth on a turkey for those special Thanksgivings where you have to deal with a relative you're less than thankful for. For some funny reason, they don't seem to come back after that. 


It's cheesy. I've never really done it, but sometimes the fun is just in the imagining.

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