Thursday, March 13, 2014

Adventures in Fabric Dyeing

Last week my daughter and I dyed a lot of fabric all at the same time.  I like to make stockpiles of fabric that I can use for a long time to create textile art. Since it is still really snowy where I live, I snow dyed some of the fabric.  Snow dyeing creates wonderful patterns on the fabric and the colors end up being more pastel too.  I dyed cotton fabric and cheesecloth using snow dyeing.  I also dyed silk fabric, silk and rayon ribbon, lace, and thread. I chose some colorways and used the same ones to dye a variety of materials.  That way I have coordinating supplies to use.

I started out with a pile of stuff to dye.

I first mix up all the dyes with the chemicals that I want to use this time.

Here I have all my dyes mixed and in their own bottles. 

Before I can dye the fabric I soak each piece in a mixture of soda ash and water.  The soda ash allows the dye to bond to the fibers and become permanent.  Then I loosely scrunch up each piece that I am dyeing.  You can use many types of folds, but here I didn't fold the fabric.  I wanted a more organic pattern this time.  For the snow dyeing I placed the fabric on a screen over a tub, so that the melted snow and dye don't pool around the fabric. I placed the regularly dyed items in containers with lids.  

My daughter brought in the snow and piled it on top of the fabric until each pile was covered.  Then I squirted the dye onto the snow.  I used three colors on each pile.  I wear old clothes and gloves because the dye will stain everything.  I cover the other pieces the same way, minus the snow.  

Here are all the snow piles with dye on top.  I cover these with old plastic bags and let them sit overnight.  
Here are all the fabric piles the next morning before I rinsed off the extra dye. 

This is the rest of the stuff that I dyed sitting in the tubs soaking to get off all the extra dye.  I rinse everything with cool water and then I soak them in cool water.  Then I do the same thing with hot water and a detergent to get off all the extra dye.  The dye does bond to the fiber, but there is always more dye than could bond that has to be washed off.  It takes several wash cycles to get the fabric all washed out.  The more delicate fibers I hand wash.  I try and use as little water as I can, so that I'm not wasting water at all.  The soaking helps to get the dye out without having to keep the fabric under running water the whole time. 

Here is all the snow dyed cotton and cheesecloth from this round of dyeing.  I hadn't ironed the fabric yet in these pictures.  Some of the pieces came out really pale, so I may over-dye them to get more color into the fabric.

Here is all the silk fabric and ribbons that I dyed.  Since I didn't use snow on top of these the colors came out a little more vibrant.

Here are all the threads, laces, and rayon ribbons that I dyed. 

I hope that I didn't bore you too much with my dyeing post.  I love fabric dyeing. Seeing how each piece turns out when it is all washed is exciting to me.  If you have any questions I will do my best to answer them.  Keep watching to see when these pieces turn up in my textile art.

 You can check out more of my art at my website

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