Thursday, February 20, 2014

the post I should have written yesterday, but was unable to...........

Fresh on the heels of the dental work post, here is what I should have written yesterday. I think I was trying to fit too much into one post.

Recently someone IRL asked me how I got started dyeing fabric and or t-shirts. So I thought some of you may be interested in how I got started too. So here goes.

It all started when I started having hot flashes. Now I am not saying I got a little warm and took off a sweater, I am talking about when you are standing on your front porch in bare feet, shorts and a t-shirt to cool off and you are out there for 15 minutes and it it is -20C (-4F) outside. A windbreaker is your winter jacket. You go to Starbucks and order a venti Frappuccino in the dead of winter because coffee is hot. The chair you sat in for 30 minutes is still warm an hour after you got up. Friends insist on driving, because you don't ever put the heat on in your car. In order to sleep you have to have the heat vent closed and the window wide open no matter how cold it is outside. Your husband moves to another bedroom because he is freezing. Wearing long sleeved anything is too warm. You wake up several times a night to change clothes because what little you are wearing is soaking wet. Your mattress is permanently stained from your sweating through the sheets and the mattress protector. I am talking HOT flashes. It was nasty. Not only did I have hot flashes, I was experiencing my own personal summer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Almost everything I owned was too warm, so I went on a search for the thinnest t-shirt to wear at home. I also didn't want to wear a bra so I wanted them to be over sized as well. I found these.

They were exactly what I needed. Cheap, so I could have a lot of them (because of the sweating), v neck and thin. Too thin and sheer to wear without a bra, so I decided I would dye them. 

This is the old packaging for Dylon dyes, and is what I used.
I used Dylon cold water dye available in my local fabric shop and it worked beautifully. If I hadn't found Dylon dye, I would probably have used Rit and would have been disappointed with the results and I wouldn't be writing this post now. Dylon is a fiber reactive dye,  probably a Procion type dye. When I first started dyeing, I would dissolve the dye in water, add salt and a package of  Dylon Cold Dye Fix (which is most likely soda ash). Add the tied t-shirt and follow the instructions that came with the dye. This method is called immersion method.

this is the kind of dye I use for tie dyeing and snow dyeing

I fell in love with dyeing and the fun and excitement of unwrapping your t-shirt or fabric and seeing what you made. It is so much fun.
Finished project
spiral tie dyed t-shirt-this photo from the Jacquard website
Then I wanted to do more, I wanted to do a spiral pattern, which is more than one colour, and I found Jacquard Procion dyes and started dyeing by direct application, in which you soak fabric/t-shirt in soda ash, and apply the dye solution (dye dissolved in water) directly to the fabric. I tie dyed with a friend and her kids, I did group sessions at the assisted living facility where I work. I did it with several friends. I figured out different ways of tying fabric and other resists. I learned a lot.

Then I found a pin on Pinterest (surprise!) that mentioned snow dyeing.Of course that got me interested. Only I had to wait for winter. Which came late this year, and it was beginning to look like it was never going to happen. But eventually it did. Of course I could have used bagged ice instead of snow, but that seems wrong when you live in Canada where we have snow a great deal of the time.

my first try at snow dyeing

A couple of things I learned about dyeing this way.

1. A little of fuchsia goes a very long way. It seems to absorb into the fabric faster than the other colours, so from now on I will use it very sparingly, if at all.

2. Most dyes are made from a mix of dyes and the colours will split when dyeing this way and that is one of the reasons you get such great results. The dyes that are a pure colour don't work very well. Jacquard Medium Blue is pure dye, Cobalt Blue is a better choice, and you will get more interesting results.

3. This isn't my revelation, but was mentioned casually in someone's blog post. When you are dyeing whatever is your primary goal (in my case t-shirts) throw something in the rack underneath to catch the excess dye. I used sheets that I was originally going to use for muslins. I still might. Muslin's don't have to be white. You might get something really amazing.

4. It is impossible to control the results, for instance I did one t-shirt I love the first time around, I tried to duplicate the results the second time I snow dyed. Not even close. So, let go of any control freak tendencies you may have when you do this.

5. Wovens take the dye differently than knits, and therefore have a more delicate look than knits, and the finer the fabric the more interesting the results. I have done 8 t-shirts, 1 was a slub knit (was a little coarse), 2 were fairly fine knit 95% cotton 5% lycra, the other 5 were the Hanes t-shirts mentioned above.  Here is a close up of 4 types of fabric.

6. If you are going to use one container like I did above, all the colours you use should "go" together, because some dye will go where you don't want it to, guaranteed. If you want purple on one t-shirt and orange on another, use different containers and keep them well apart when you are applying the dye.

7. Use caution when using dyes, always wear gloves and when applying the dyes in dry form, wear a mask. You never know if or when you may develop an allergic reaction to a dye. Be careful.
If you get dye on your hands (for whatever reason, no judging, gloves do break) using a pumice stone will help remove the dye, so will washing dishes, sometimes lots of dishes. Believe me, I know.

The sheet is on the top, the slub knit on the left, cotton/lycra  in the middle and the Hanes t-shirt on the right
This photo hasn't  been resized so the file is huge, so you will be able to biggify it to see the details

My Pinterest dyeing board

These websites are great fabric dyeing resources. The first one is what got me started on snow dyeing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Snow dyeing Part Two-the reveal

Some of you that have a blog will understand how some posts almost write themselves (like yesterdays rant) and other posts are like trying to do your own dental work without training or anesthetic. Painful and slow and bloody. This is a dental work post. There I said it.  I have written and rewritten and rewritten this, it ain't happening. So, without further ado or explanations, here is the reveal.

Even the photos suck on this post.

That's just the way it is sometimes.

I do like the results though.

my favourite-reminds me of Monet's water lily paintings

The Husband says if you squint and use your imagination (and take hallucinogens IMO) this one
looks like Bill The Cat 

sheet-will probably become pj bottoms

close up of previous sheet

another sheet-this one I folded a little-don't love the effect

close up of sheet
If anyone wants to know anything about these t-shirts and sheets, either leave a comment or email me. The well is dry. can't write more...........

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"do you sew"

Mini Rant On

Three times this week people have volunteered me to sew for them. Two of them I just met for the first time. Where do they get the nerve? I want to buy some. 

The conversation usually starts like this:

"you sew, right?"


I know what's coming next, and I'm sure you do too. At this point my emotional response varies from suppressed rage to disbelief, depending on my blood sugar level.

"I should get you to make me a _______."
"I should get some material and get you to make me a ________."

When someone uses the word material, it irritates the hell out of me. I have always managed to resist the urge to get them to elaborate on what kind of material they are referring to, reading material, insulation material, plastic material, absorbent material, roofing material etc. I refer you to the Merriam Webster Dictionary for details. The term is FABRIC or CLOTH. Let's all say it together, FABRIC OR CLOTH. 

Depending on how well I know the person, and how much I like them, my response varies. But one thing remains constant, I never ever ever say sorry or make any kind of apology. I don`t have to, it is my time and I own it.

"I don't have enough time to sew all the things I want to sew for myself"


"I don't sew for other people unless I am married to them or we have some shared DNA."

This one can take some time for some people to understand. Seriously. Sometimes you can actually smell smoke.


"I don't sew for other people, it makes me suffer from anxiety."


I pretend I didn't hear them and ignore them, this is the easiest, but least satisfying.

or,  combined with one of the other responses 

"I will teach you to sew and you can make it yourself."


"sure, would love to, that will take me around 4 hours, I charge $20 per hour, the pattern will cost $15, and the fabric will cost anywhere from $10-$20 per meter and it will take 2 meters, for a total of over a $135 and it could be more depending on the pattern. When do you want to go shopping for the fabric?"

So far no one has taken me up on the two responses. Thank god.

Why do people always always assume sewing ability is something they should get for free? You wouldn't say to a carpenter, I should get some building material and get you to build me a house, or to a plumber, I should get some copper material and get you to upgrade my master bathroom, or to a mechanic, I should get you to fix my car, it's been making a funny sound. And assume that they would be happy to do it for nothing. Why is sewing so undervalued?

So far this year I have been asked four times to sew for other people. Actually that isn't accurate, it has been assumed by four people this year that I would sew for them. Assumed. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it. 

How often are you asked to sew for someone else? 

How do you respond when people ask/demand/beg you to sew for them? I would love to know how other people deal with this issue. Tell me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow dyeing Part One

Usually by this time of year we have a fair amount of snow. Of course this year, when I wanted to play with snow dyeing, there is very very little snow. Wednesday and Thursday we got around 5-6 inches. Yippee. Of course I could have bought ice, but that seems wrong.

There are quite a few tutorials online about how to do this, so I won't post links, because there are quite a few. Most people that snow dye or hand dye fabrics for that matter are quilters. Not me, I hate quilting. Passionately. I admire the result but the process is boring as hell. To me.

Some things are no different with snow dyeing than regular dyeing. You still have to soak the items being dyed in soda ash and water. The items should be 100% natural cellulose fibers for optimum results. Two of the t-shirts I dyed are 5% lycra. It shouldn't make too much of a difference, but we will see.

If you are going to snow dye you will need:

Procion MX dyes-I use Jacquard
Soda Ash
Dedicated measuring spoons and stirrers (use only for dyeing)-get at the dollar store
Bucket for soda ash soak
Gloves to protect your hands from the soda ash and the dyes
Plastic containers to hold everything-I used one of the plastic totes intended for under bed storage
Fabric and/or t-shirts to be dyed

I place a sheet in the bottom of the container to catch the excess dye.
The bottles are to hold the racks above the sheet.

This with the racks in place

The t-shirts are soaked in soda ash and scrunched together and placed on
top of the rack. Then three inches of snow is packed on top of the t-shirts.

All three t-shirts with the dye on top of the snow.

This one has just about the right amount of dye sprinkled on the snow.

This one has way too much dye applied. 

This one has the right amount too. 

This was the first time I had tried this technique, so I was guessing how much dye to apply. It worked out not too bad. One of the t-shirts I love, one I like and the third is just ok, I may over dye this one black.

The dyes I used on all three t-shirts were complimentary. If you decide to try this, look into colour mixing to make sure you aren't going to get mud colours. For example, purple and orange make brown. So choose your colours carefully. I wanted the sheet underneath all this to be useable so the colours had to coordinate.

Next post the reveal!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Welcome to Wadderville

Hard upon the heels of my Jungle January Renfrew success, I cut out another Renfrew. After all, I really like
the one I just made, I was primed for another top I loved. I forgot one eensy teensy detail.

I suck at choosing prints. 

Really suck. Which really pisses me off because so many other sewists play with prints and make pretty shiny happy things that I love, and I can't seem to manage it. It isn't fair.

Occasionally I pick one that works, but usually no no no no. I don't count animal prints as a print, I think of them as a neutral, same as stripes, polka dots, plaids, houndstooth etc. I could go on, but I won't. Herringbone. Glen check.

what on earth was I thinking?

I have to admit when I bought this print, I had my doubts. It was, I believe $2 a meter in the bargain section at Fabricland, I bought it at the same time I bought the Jungle January print and another one that is being donated, it's even worse than this one. Apparently I had money in my pocket and I felt I had to put in someone's cash register. I should know better than to shop when I am suffering from taste influenza.

The top looks bad on the hanger, it looks even worse on me. Something about the girls distorting the print or something, believe me it is bad, and you are going to have to take my word for it. No photos of this will ever be taken. Consider it my gift to the world. 

If one was flat chested. it might work. Might. Maybe. Probably Not.

I announced to the husband that I was going to toss it. He feels certain that there is a resident at the nursing home that he works at that would like it. So, instead of tossing it out, I am going to hem it and hope that someone gets some use out of it. And that people don't point and laugh at them when they wear it.

After writing the above, I went to the sewing dungeon to hem the damn thing and thought I should shorten the sleeves a little. I did, and cut off the serged edge of the sleeve, which was the only thing making hemming the fabric a possibility. So I am not donating it to anyone. 

 (I always serge the sleeve hem and the shirt hem immediately after cutting. So much easier serging it flat than doing it in the round.)

Can someone develop an ability to choose prints, or is it something you are born with? Does anyone else suck at choosing prints? Do Tell. Make me feel better.

Stashbusting: 2 meters gone forever