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.|
|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.
|spiral tie dyed t-shirt-this photo from the Jacquard website|
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
These websites are great fabric dyeing resources. The first one is what got me started on snow dyeing.