Using Cheese Cloth in Textiles

Cheese cloth must have hundreds of uses and many fiber artists use cheese cloth in their work. Debra from Cheese Cloth Fabric.com sent me a sample of their cheese cloth recently to post about.

Cheese Cloth from Cheeseclothfabric.comHere’s the package I received and there is lots of cheese cloth here. Thanks Debra! If you check out their site, you’ll see that they have a variety of grades of cheese cloth and they sell in large quantities. Unfortunately, they only ship to US addresses at this time but their cheese cloth is very affordable especially if you need large quantities.

Closer View of Cheese Cloth

Cheese cloth is graded by the number of vertical and horizontal threads per inch. The grades range from #10 to #90. I have also seen #30, #40, #50 and #60. #10 grade has 20 x 12 threads per inch and #90 has 44 x 36 threads per inch. You can see in the photo above that this is one of the higher grades of cheese cloth. In the US, the cheese cloth that you find in the grocery stores is usually #10 grade.

Spices on Cheese Cloth

Many of the uses for cheese cloth are things that you might do in the kitchen. You can strain stock or broth, use as a spice or tea bag, thicken yogurt, make tofu, cover a lemon so that when you squeeze it, no seeds will pop out or even make cheese!

Spice BagI used a bit of the cheese cloth to make a spice bag for hot spiced cider over the holidays.

In the Spiced CiderHere it is simmering in the cider. But the point of this post is using cheese cloth in textiles. I have made several samples as well as a few different pieces with cheese cloth.

Ice Dyed Cheese Cloth

Cheese cloth is easy to dye. The photo above was dyed with the ice dyeing method. Fiber reactive dyes are best for dyeing cheese cloth since it is cotton.

Cheese Cloth FlowerI recently used the ice dyed cheese cloth to make little flowers.

Cheese Cloth Flowers AttachedI’m thinking about adding the little flowers to this stitched piece. The cheese cloth flowers are just pinned on right now but I am sure that I’ll use some of them.

Cheese Cloth in FeltYou can use cheese cloth to provide texture in felting. The cheese cloth in this piece is just above the white novelty yarn.

Cheese Cloth Used as StrengthenerYou can use cheese cloth in between layers of wool to provide strength. This notebook cover has cheese cloth in the middle of the felt. You can’t see it at all but it works great for items that will get a lot of wear and tear.

Ruching Cheese Cloth SampleThis sample has cheese cloth that has been ruched and then stitched down. You can either do the stitching by machine or by hand.

Cheesecloth SampleHere’s another sample where cheese cloth was stitched down in rows very close together. I also used cheese cloth to make a stitched cord. I love how organic the cheese cloth looks when you fray it.

Barn by Lynette BarnesThis piece is by my class mate Lynette Barnes. She used cheese cloth to depict moss on an old barn. Isn’t it cool?

Side View Cheesecloth Layers

This is an experimental piece in which I wanted to make ruffles of cheese cloth across a piece of felt. The edges of the cheese cloth were covered with wool and placed in rows and then felted.

Sizing Up by Mary Pal

Cheese cloth can even be used in fine art. I just love these portraits by Mary Pal. She “paints” with cheese cloth. I find this quite amazing.

Bark 12 by Kathyanne White

Another interesting use of cheese cloth is using it as a print surface. Kathyanne White uses many alternative surfaces to print photos and cheese cloth is just one of them. She even has a post about printing on to felt.

Indecision by Alicia Forestall-Boehm

Cheese cloth can even be used in sculpture. The piece above by Alicia Forestall-Boehm is one of many that she combines encaustic and cheese cloth as well as wire and foam.

My plan now is to dye the cheese cloth that I received from cheeseclothfabric.com and do some experimenting. I am going to send a portion of the cheese cloth to Zed and to Ann so I thought it would be fun if I gave away another portion to anyone who is interested in playing with cheese cloth. So if you’d like to have some dyed cheese cloth, just leave a comment below and tell me what color you’d like and how you plan to use it. I’ll draw a name on January 23rd and announce the winner on that date.  I will send the winner the dyed cheese cloth once it’s finished which will be in a couple of weeks.  Zed and Ann, let me know what colors you would like as well. Then I’ll write another post and show the results of all our cheese cloth experiments.

(We have no affiliation with cheeseclothfabric.com except that they offered to send us some free cheese cloth in exchange for posting about it.)

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37 Responses to Using Cheese Cloth in Textiles

  1. Lyn says:

    The portrait is wonderful! You have some great ideas for using the humble cheesecloth – thanks for sharing.

  2. Nada says:

    Wau, how inventive! Thanks for your ideas and sharing with us.

  3. Teri Berry says:

    Thank you for a very educational post Ruth, I hadn’t heard of Mary Pal before but she is definitely an artist to watch, her cheesecloth portraits are incredible. I love working with cheesecloth /muslin, as you say it dyes really easily and felts very well. Your seascape is beautiful.

  4. Great post! I use it structurally (like in your paisley pieces), but it would be fun to have some ORANGE cheesecloth to use on the felt surface for a change! 🙂 XO

  5. Wow, that gave me a whole new perspective, even though I do use cheesecloth in mixed media and it dyes so wonderfully. But I had never thought about the possibilities of printing. I would probably use the green cloth in a mixed media collage piece.

  6. Marilyn Nelson says:

    Wonderful! I’ve dyed cheesecloth but haven’t used it yet. Where do I start? 🙂 All your samples are great. I love the landscape and the cheesecloth flowers. You and all the artists have been really creative with different uses for the cheesecloth. Thanks for sharing!

  7. luvswool says:

    I never knew cheesecloth could be so versatile and have always associated it with the lower grade you get at the supermarket. As I have been struggling with nuno felting wool on silk, it seems to me that some lovely BLUE cheesecloth might bring me nuno felting success! Thanks so much for an informative article.

  8. meterrilee says:

    What an interesting post! I have some cheesecloth from a kitchen store, undyed and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it. You have given me a ton of ideas–thank you! I’ve never seen cheesecloth in any grade other than #10….very curious about the tighter grades. I love the idea of using (the undyed white) as a strengthening layer in felt–great idea for tote bags, etc. For a lovely dyed cheesecloth, however, I would like to experiment with the moss look in a felt painting (like the barn picture). Therefore, I would be delighted to win some mossy/olive green, if you should happen to dye some in that color way. Thanks so much for the chance~Terri

  9. Deb says:

    Great post. If the roads improve I am going to see if i can get some cheese cloth here in town. I think dyeing some up would be great fun ( I work with natural dyes so it could be a fun challenge). Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Gail Abney says:

    I enjoyed this informative post with so many pictures of fantastic ideas. I am a newbie felted. Two years ago I learned to knit and have knit and felted some hats and a purse. But more recently, I’ve read (more like “inhaled” everything I can find), watched videos, and taught myself how to do wet felting and nuno felting and LOVE it! So far I’ve only made scarves. Recently I bought some cheesecloth from Walmart. I haven’t used it yet but am anxious to experiment. I would love to have some dyed cheesecloth in my favorite blue-green color ways (aqua, jade, emerald, etc).

  11. How about that Rymplecloth? And crinoline cloth?? What ‘s not to love about cheese cloth! So versatile for so many purposes! Not only a great armature combined with plaster, works also with wool. Very interesting!

  12. Jo Campbell says:

    Lots of lovely ideas I’d like to try. I love the colours in the pink/purple dyed piece at the top of the post but blue/greens would also be great to work into a felted piece.

  13. Lots of great inspiration Ruth. I have been thinking of making a large piece of nuno felt with cheese cloth to sew in to a skirt for spring. Can’t wait to get my pieces and make some (artistic) samples to see what I want to use for the skirt.

  14. Very interesting post Ruth, thanks for including so may fab images too. I have only used this cloth for a background so far but will now be getting much more creative with it!

  15. zedster66 says:

    Great post, Ruth 🙂
    I love cheesecloth in felting and mixed media … and scrim and muslin, I don’t know what ‘grades’ they’d be. The examples you showed are great. I even used cheesecloth to make panir once, and use it to squeeze tofu. Thanks for the offer of sending us some, I’d like to be surprised by the colour if that’s alright 🙂

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Zed – I’m not sure the difference between cheese cloth, scrim and muslin. They all seem to be similar but it’s hard to compare country to country on these types of supplies. Perhaps I’ll do some snow dyeing and then we’ll all be surprised 🙂

  16. Pingback: And The Winner Is… | feltingandfiberstudio

  17. dalia says:

    I have made a nuno dress with cheesecloth grade90, dress looks nice but little bit heavy.Just thinking about other grades and wondering if anyone did anything with grade 40 and 10. Maybe 10 will be to light, just thinking.

  18. Sandra Flickstein says:

    I am thinking of ordering some for Felting projects. Have you determined which grade is best. Thanks much for this great post- filling my head with many ideas- including watercolor and mixed media art.

    • ruthlane says:

      Hi Sandra, you can use any grade of cheesecloth with felting. It depends on what you are trying to achieve. Grade #10 will sink into the felt and practically disappear while a grade #90 is heavier weight and will stay on the surface. I would suggest that you get a variety so that you can try them all out and see which suits you the best.

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