Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Easy-Peasy Red Solo Cup Fabric Hand Dyeing Tutorial

Now as I said in the last couple of posts, I'm no hand dyeing expert.  Nor is it my personality type to sit and meticulously follow hand dyeing instructions to the very letter ( Carol Soderlund I'm not!).  I've tried that - and Guess What??  I got lack luster results that took forever.  So this year, I decided that hand dyeing isn't as complicated as I first thought it was and if I wasn't too worried about keeping consistent results (which I'm not ) - I could just take a laid back approach to the whole process.

Because I got a half dozen emails asking exactly how I got such great results using Red Solo Cups - I thought I would share a tutorial.  Warning:  This is a VERY relaxed approach to this process and your results should be inconsistently beautiful.

I keep all (except for dye, fabric) in a big storage bin - I bought them  all 4 yrs ago and just use them over and over - so you just have the first initial expense
  • Procion MX Dyes (Dharma Trading, ProChemical, DickBlick)
  • PFD Cotton Mercerized fabric (Testfabrics, Dharma Trading) - fat quarters - half yard pieces
  • Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) (Walmart in Pool Chemicals)
  • Salt (grocery store)
  •  Several 8 oz (or so) jars - I used 8 oz mason jars (Walmart)
  • Gallon Pitcher, measuring cup, measuring spoons, big plastic spoon (Dollar Store)
  • Several Red Solo Cups (Walmart)
  • Vinyl tablecloth (Dollar Store)
  • A couple of old rags
  • A good pair of rubber cleaning gloves, painting face mask  (Walmart)
  • Plastic dishwashing bins (Dollar Store)
  • A bowl of water
  • Dawn dish washing soap (grocery) 

The Easy-Peasy Directions - All Measurements are More or Less or Whatever
  1. Place Vinyl tablecloth down over working table 
  2. Don Gloves and Mask
  3.  Mix 1 gallon of hot, hot water, 1/3 c of Salt, 1/3 c of Soda Ash - Stir thoroughly
  4. Spoon in 1  rounded teaspoon of dye color into each seperate jar - rinsing spoon in the bowl of water between colors  
  5. Add 1 cup of soda ash water to each jar, cover - shake well till dye is all disolve
  6. Take off mask
  7. Set up a number of solo cups
  8. Take fabric - scrunch about a quarter of the fabric in the cup - pore in a bit of the dye (whatever amount - a lot if you feel like a lot of color - a little if you feel like a little)
  9. Scrunch in a bit more of the fabric - add another color
  10. Scrunch in the remainder of the fabric  - add third color (fabric should be all emerged at this point or scrunch it down into the dye)
  11. Repeat for as many pieces and color combos you feel like rinsing out later - use all the dye in the jars because it won't keep (and you won't want to keep it )
  12. Let set on table or shelf for  6 hrs (more or less)
  13. With Gloves on, take all to your sink - rinse fabric and cups in cold water - just do a good initial rinse - will still have dye in the fabric
  14. Put fabric  in a plastic bins of cold water - one for the warm colors, one for cold
  15. Leave soaking over night
  16. Wash two times (Hot/cold cycle) - no detergent - I added a squirt of Dawn for the last
  17. Air Dry or Dryer - Iron
Okay so 17 directions seem like a lot - but honestly its super fast and easy (for hand dyeing that is!)   It took me less than 45 min to get out the stuff out of the bin - set them up on my studio table and "batch up" the solo cups.  I tend to do it in the morning - let them set all day - rinse them out  after dinner  - let them soak all night - wash them in the morning. 

You can do the same basic dyeing process with fabric folded tightly and rubber banded - just pour a little of the dye over the folds - soak in a baggie with more dye water.  I usually sit in front of  the TV and fold fabric since I like it in super tight little folds.

Some Tips
  • You need 75 degree room temps or higher
  • You can dye any cotton fabric  - but you should prewash it in hot water with non additive detergent first 
  • Cut up your fabric a head of time 
  • Rinse out all your stuff and keep it in one central location
  • Dedicate plastic, measuring ware - just for this purpose
  • Use a FQ for a rag and get some funky results
  •  When choosing colors for each cup - think about color theory and the color wheel for best results
  • Do  12-24 pieces of fabric at a time - take into consideration your patience and energy levels
  • A Gallon of the Soda Ash water usually lasts me the two dye sessions (it can be saved)
  • You could Recycle 8 - 10 oz grocery  jars with lids for mixing the dye powder with chemical water
  • You can mix as many or as few colors as you want in a cup - I like 3 - it can get a bit muddy after that
  • You can mix the dye powders - be careful with Fuchsia and black - a little goes a very long - long way 
  • If you don't like the results the first day - over dye the piece the second
  • Feel free to experiment  
Email me with any questions.


The Inside Stori said...

Thank you for generously sharing your solo cup technique!!!

Judy Ferguson said...

I use the ziploc bags, but the cups would be great also. Thanks for posting.

Nina Marie said...

I use bags too - but I found that the cups give a better mottled result which I like for my work. Also they are MUCH easier to clean and store. Plus they hold up much better - I had to throw out a bunch of baggies this year - they only make it two yrs of dye sessions before leaking.

Quilt Rat said...

What a FABULOUS walk-through of the process....really excellent! I too, prefer a more relaxed..."let's see what happens" approach. Not into precision LOL!
I really like that you showed your supplies as well. I also use pool chemicals and Dawn...(has to be the "Blue" Dawn) for best results....and yes...sometimes the clean up rag comes out incredibly interesting.
You KNOW you are making me want to get messy now.

Valerie the Pumpkin Patch Quilter said...

Great tutorial - thank you for sharing!! It is always very helpful to see how others dye their fabrics to get ideas for doing your own. We haven't had a nice sunny day in a while so I've brought all of my dye materials inside...a dangerous adventure is what I'd call it!!! LOL* I'm going to attempt to dye some yardage in the house, but I'm definitely keeping in mind your red solo cup idea for when I do smaller hunks...looks like a really good way to get many different results in one dyeing session.

Katherine McNeese said...

good tutorial.
Plastic baggies also work!

Katherine McNeese said...

of course, if I'd read the comments, I'd see that you discussed using baggies. If you limit the water you can get mottled results with baggies, and they pack together into a plastic box nicely.

quiltedfabricart said...

Thank you for the tutorial! I'm going to file this one away for future e devours. I like your easy peaty frugal approach ;-)

Sherrie Spangler said...

Thanks for sharing! Maybe you could submit this to Quilting Arts and get paid!

Marilyn Wall said...

Thanks Nina. I'm not a dyer, unless someone else does all the mixing first, but I may give this a try. Thanks for taking the time to write this up.

Lisa from DippyDyes said...

Nice job, and very casual. A good reminder for the dye geek like me that there is more than one way to dye a square!

Eldrid said...

I like to scrunch my wet fabric in the corner of store bag something about the thin plastic .i scrunch soda ash fabric place in bag. Place bag in plastic container then add dye scrunch in corner tight great patterns ..the play is way more fun when it's relaxed ..

Judy Levin said...

I tend to avoid MX dye, so I tried this with full strength liquid Rit. It worked really well, but I certainly would not use the fabric for anything that had to be washed. It will be great for art quilts, collage etc.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great easy tute! I would like to share this with my students with your permission. I have taken Carol's Class for a week and really learned how to dye, but I like this casual approach too!

DonaleeK said...

Very nice to the point tutorial... thanks a bunch.