Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hand Dyeing Fabric on a Dime

Well, I finally took a leap of faith and started hand dyeing my fabric. I ended up taking a quilt back I had bought on sale and cutting it into 12" by 18" pieces - bigger than a fat eighth but smaller than a fat quarter. I put 26 of them into a soda ash bath and set it out on my wrap around porch. I decided after looking at many different quilter's dye station set ups, that I wouldn't go so fancy. I just put a vinyl table cloth on the floor of my porch - set a bucket upside down and worked there. I put two buckets of water around me - made my dye solutions and made sure I had enough beer cups labeled.

As an aside, let me just tell you, I never thought in my life I would have gone on a hunt for the elusive beer cup. I didn't even know they made such a thing - can you tell what a big drinker I am? I was following the methods set down by Melissa Will in her Dyeing 101 blog. Its fabulous! I asked a couple of neighbors concerning the cups and they clued me into the fact that you can get them in the 18 oz size at a discount store. So in case you hear rumors that I've taken up drinking in large oz glasses - its just that I'm really hand dyeing fabric!

Anywaysssss - Although it took me most of the day, the process was easy enough to follow. I ended up with 26 different color samples. I just used two sets of different blue, yellows and reds that I had bought on sale and applied recipes that Melissa had suggested (although she had used different primary shades). I thought the results were quite nice although a little pale. We have hard water here so I'll have to look into a softner or used bottle water to dye with. I cured them for 4 hours at 70 degrees so that might have been a factor too.

Still I love the results and that I actually did it. Its fun playing mad scientist for a bit. I love that you're not quite sure how the colors are going to come out and the sense of accomplishment you get when you see them all ironed in front of you. I did start a dye journal with the recipes and samples.


Joyce said...

Very nice! Did anyone warn you that it is addictive? I save rain water in the summer. We too have very hard water. Also the pale colour will happen if there is even a tiny bit of polyester in the fabric, unlikely though if you are using quilting fabric.

JenEve said...


laura west kong said...

They're wonderful! Do you know what you're going to do with them yet?

Suzanne Kistler said...

They're beautiful! Before I read your note, I was struck by the subtle colors. Our little Art Group has been dyeing fabric (I wasn't there) and all of their results were super-intense. If they were making these softer colors, I might think of joining their next class...interesting.

Thanks for sharing!!