Friday, November 22, 2013

It's Dyeday Friday

Today is the day to dye. I have destroyed my hands the last couple of days tying, or more accurately elastic-ing my fabric. At one point my hands were cramping, so I had to take a break. When doing this you have to have the elastics really tight or the dye will creep under them and the point of tying the fabric is lost. Hence the cramping hands.

from left to right, top to bottom
1. a crystal scrunch fold 2. vertical stripes
3. circles 4. sort of bullseye
5. soaking in soda ash and water 6. circles after dye is applied
7. bullseye after dye is applied 8. the mess after 

If you start dyeing, be sure to have dedicated tools for dyeing that you will never ever ever ever use for food. You need measuring spoons, a funnel, something to stir stuff with, buckets, measuring cups, rubber gloves, and very likely some other stuff I can't think of now ziplock bags

I only use Procion MX dyes, made by Jacquard Products, Dharma Trading also sells Procion dyes, but I prefer to support local businesses when at all possible. Also, shipping to Canada is a little pricey sometimes. Procion dyes are almost completely colour fast when used on cellulose fibers, cotton, rayon, linen, tencel etc. I tried Rit dyes once and was profoundly disappointed with the results, in my opinion, Rit is Sh*t. It will continually wash out over time.

I am dyeing my fabric using the direct application method, so the first step is soaking the fabric in 1 cup soda ash mixed with one gallon of water. Soda ash alters the PH of the fabric making it "take" the dye more successfully. If you forget to soak your fabric the dye won't bond with the fabric and the results will be less than optimal. Ask me how I know. Very important- soak ash is very alkaline and not nice to your skin, so always always wear gloves. Soak the fabric for 15 minutes up to 1 hour.

While the fabric is soaking, I mix up the dye. I save dish detergent bottles and similar bottles for this purpose (my favourite ones are the ones from Smuckers Plate Scapers, they work really well). I used to buy plastic bottles at the dollar store, but I found they leak and the recycled bottles don't, and besides they are free. Free is good.

I am using black dye, and black takes twice as much dye as most colours, so if you want black, buy more dye than you think you will need. Of course, in the spirit of do as I say not as I do, I had to make a run to the store to get more black dye.

Always wear gloves when handling dyes, and if like me, you don't always take your own advice, and you get dye on your hands, a pumice stone works well for removing the dye. Washing dishes also helps. Ask me how I know.

I like to apply the dye in a shallow container, I found plastic containers at a thrift store for 10¢, they have just enough of a lip so the dye doesn't get all over the everything, and shallow enough that I can put the dye where I want it. Once I have the dye on the fabric, I then put the fabric or t-shirt or whatever in a ziplock bag, and keep them in a warm place for 24 hours.

Tomorrow, the reveal.

If you want more information about dyeing your own fabrics, the websites below are great resources.

Paula Burch-all about hand dyeing
Dharma Trading-also a supplier of dyes, and fabric and everything for dyeing
Jacquard Products-maker of Procion MX dyes


  1. Thanks for the detailed banding photos. I'm looking forward to the next post for the reveal.

  2. It is always a surprise when you unwrap, you never know exactly what you are going to get. I am a little concerned about the bullseye, I am worried there will be too much white. Oh well.

  3. Fabulous tutorial...takes me back to the 1980's when I was just using bleach and rubber bands and tight tight thread to make weird shapes and weird results. So excited to see all the versions you have created!!!!!

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