Friday, September 3, 2010

"A Great Day To Dye Fabric"

I’ve only been dyeing fabric for about eight or nine years. But it is a process that I thoroughly enjoy and wish I had begun much earlier in my life. When I decided I wanted to learn how, I read all the books and, boy, did it seem a long, difficult process. Measuring everything, keeping accurate notes to redye in the same color, lots of supplies, big advice on how to deal with the mess of spills, etc. Sounded really hard when I could buy a fat quarter of hand-dyed fabric at the quilt shop I worked at part-time for about $2.50. But I really wanted to dye my own fabric and use it in my quilting.

Well, once I started, I realized it was much simpler than people made it out to be. I’ve taken a picture of the fairly minimal amount of things that I use for you to see. My bathroom sink is where I dye all my fabric.

So how do I begin to dye fabric? There are two things I always do without exception: I wear rubber gloves and I wear a mask when I mix the dyes. I use procion dyes and the only problem with that is breathing the powder before you mix it with water. A little hard on your lungs if you breathe in the powder, hence, a good mask. The rubber gloves keep the dye off my hands.

Here is how I dye my fabric:

1. Tear your fabric into the sizes that you want to dye. Anywhere from a fat quarter (which is what I did today) to a yard or bigger if you want. It is really up to you.

2. I fill my measuring cups with water and lay out all of my things so I will be able to use them efficiently. Lastly, I mix up the dye activator in my big bowl and put the fabric in it to soak. I let my fabric soak for a while and then wring out the fabric so that it is ready for me to use.

3. I take one of the containers and put some water in it (about a quarter cup more or less) and then put the amount of dye I want. I used a teaspoon for some, a tablespoon for others and somewhere inbetween for the rest. My dyes are kind of old so I used a little more than normal on some. Stir it gently until it is mixed well. By the way I put a wet papertowel under the container so if I spill any powder it will get readily absorbed and won’t float in the air. And, too, it just makes clean up a little easier.

4. Then I put my fabric into the dye container and squish it to make sure all of it has taken dye and then I usually add a little more water and squish it one last time and then pop the top on the container.

After placing all my dye containers in my big blue plastic box, I take my big box out to my deck where I leave it in the sun for the day.  Tomorrow I wash out all of the fabric.

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