Saturday, September 4, 2010

"The Big Reveal"

I picked an excellent day to dye fabric.  High 90’s, lots of sunshine and heat.  The fabric baked nicely for several hours in the sun on my deck and then overnight in my bathroom.  Heat would be a key component to getting good results.  The colors are bright and I'm very pleased with the results.   The picture below is the dyed fabric  from yesterday and certainly well worth the time spent.

I’ve dumped the water out of each container and have seen the most beautiful colors wash right down my sink.  I’d love to have those colors.  However, the fabric color itself is stunning right now.  But after rinsing most of the dyes out of the fabric, I’ll put all of the fabrics into my washer with a little detergent and then dry them in my dryer.  Afterwards I'll need to iron my fabrics so they will be ready for me to use.  Only then will I see the final color.

Fabric changes color about three times before you get to the finished product which is why it is so difficult to match colors on different dye days or even different dye pots.  Even big manufacturers who do a lot of dyeing will tell you to buy enough yarn, fabric, whatever from that specific dye lot because they can’t guarantee the exactness in color.  The difference might be slight but there you go--if you need the color to be exact the slightness will surely show up jarringly in your project.

I think my colors are just beautiful!  I’ll have the best time deciding how to use all these fabrics and in what projects.  Sometimes I dye fabric for specific uses and other times like yesterday I just dye fabric for the sheer joy of it.  Admittedly, I go towards the blues and the pinks.  They have such charming names like Cherry Blush and Azure, but sometimes just plain names like basic blue and basic red.  

If you are thinking about dyeing fabric, do a little research.  If you know someone who dyes fabric, ask if you can either watch them or help.  It is not as difficult as the books make it out to be but a little individual instruction can go a long way.  Nor is it all that expensive when you start out small.  Just be careful with the dye powders (wear a good mask) so that you don’t breathe any into your lungs while you are mixing the color dyes.  The other thing is to always wear good rubber gloves so that you don’t dye you hands.  I wear an apron, too.  Of course, a little bit of carefulness goes a long way in not having to clean up messes.  Also, keep any containers, measuring cups, and spoons separate and only for your dyes as well as anything else you might use for this.

I buy my dyes from Pro Chemical and Dyes and my fabric from Dharma Trading and am happy with both internet stores.  Both stores carry dyes and fabrics but for some reason I bought my dyes from one and my fabric from the other.  Why?  I don’t remember but I’m happy with both. The fabric should be PFD fabric which means prepared for dyeing--which means it takes the dyes better.  Commercial fabrics have a finish on them that doesn’t work well with dyes.  Both stores will also give you detailed instructions on how to use their products--and all directions vary a little so read the ones that come with your specific products--then after you’ve done it their way begin experimenting with the dyes and colors because that is really where all the fun lies.

It would be wise to invest in a small amount of dyes (a couple of colors) and a small amount of fabric (mask & gloves, too) just to go through the process to see if you enjoy it as much as you think you would.  Then if you enjoy it you can buy all the stuff to make whatever you want using dyes.  Yesterday I just dyed fabric different colors.  However, I did scrunch my fabric up in each container so that I’d get different variations of color on each piece.  But I have made designs on the fabrics using various objects, actually painted dyes on fabric (I took Hollis Chatelain’s course a few years back) and have done quite a few other things with dyes.  Fascinating things can be accomplished using dyes.   

The possibilities are simply endless when you begin a new adventure.  

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