Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dyeing Lesson's Learned!

I have had a busy week or so dyeing fabric! All total, my figures indicate I have dyed 14 yards--Pretty good for a beginner!

Yesterday was a "so-so" day for dyeing since it really didn't get as warm as I originally thought it would, in fact it rained all afternoon. The good thing is my dyeing "studio" is in the garage, so after moving the cars out, I could let down the door and it was relatively warm--not 70 degrees, but warm enough for the dye to "cure".

I learned several lessons I will share:

1. You absolutely MUST have a place dedicated for this that is NOT in your house or where you prepare food. As careful as I was, I dropped dye on the floor, it stained the sink and I was constantly wiping up. I read that once dye dries, it reverts back to powder form, where it is toxic, so you have to be so careful in wiping up every spill. Imagine if you are preparing this in your kitchen! So, unless you have a basement, garage, or porch with a sink, I wouldn't try this at home. I suppose if you had a laundry room with a door, it would work, but if your laundry room is anything like mine, I wouldn't have room to work in there. Plus closing the door would decrease circulation and you would be working with all these particles floating around. When you opened the door it would go into your house---so on second thought, not in a small room unless you had a window and great circulation!

2. Don't scrimp on the masks! Even if you are very, very careful, I noticed fine particles in the air when I measured out the dye and soda ash. Both are toxic--so be sure and wear a mask anytime you are working with either of these. Once in liquid form, there isn't a problem.

3. Wear old clothes--again, I tried to be really careful, but I did spill--I have a red toe to prove it. Also, don't forget the gloves.

4. Rinse well!!! The directions say you only need to rinse 3-4 times before putting the fabric in the wash, but I rinsed until the water was pretty clear. My fabric is therefore color-fast--so I don't have to worry about the colors migrating when I wash my quilt---at least I hope not!

5. Iron your finished fabric when it is damp. I didn't put the fabric softener in this time to see what happened--actually, it didn't make a big difference in feel, but the fabric was harder to iron. I think it was because I let them dry completely--since although I let the fabric dry when I dyed before, the wrinkles were easier to come out--the only difference was the fabric softener the first time. I also might use a fabric sheet next time, or a regular softener. The softener that I ordered with my dyes is expensive---the directions say to put the entire little bottle in and I paid about $4 for the bottle---too much for only one time use.

6. Really keep yourself organized when adding colors. Each color requires different measurements and it can be a problem if you allow yourself to either become distracted or you aren't organized.

Well I think that is all the "lessons" I can pass on this time. Now to explain my fabrics:

This batch is from the recipe called "Rainbow". I used 200ct Kona Muslin. It was allowed to cure for about 3 hours. The colors are nice and bright (more so than the picture shows). The colors used were Scarlett; yellow; and turquoise.

I again used 200ct muslin--, although the brightest fuschia looks like a regular Kona cotton. I don't know how it got in there, since I didn't notice the difference when I cut them. It dyed well, so I might try just white Kona next time--I will look at that when I get another 40% off coupon (It is more expensive than the muslin). This is the result of a 2 color gradient using fuschia and turquoise. Again, the colors are nice and bright.

I used unbleached muslin for this batch. The color's used was fuchsia and blue. The "hand" reminds me of linen. It dyed nicely but because it doesn't have the high thread count as the others you can certainly tell the difference. I think I will certainly use unbleached muslin again, the colors are very intense, but the feel is very different.

So this is the result of my Saturday---I am now going to start a quilt and see how they look!

Hugs! Have a blessed Sunday!


  1. Patricia, all your hand dyed fabric pieces are gorgeous...ans thank you so much for all the tips.

  2. Patricia, Those look WONDERFUL! I can't wait to see how you will use them in a quilt. I did a little hand-dying in a class years back, but now I paint my fabrics. It is a little easier to deal with than the powdered dyes and soda ash. Keep up the good work!! They are gorgeous fabrics!!


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