Thursday, August 24, 2017

Learning QAL - August Sum Up

Welcome to the first 
Learning Quilt-A-Long Sum Up post and link-up.

My learning goal for August was to dye my own fabric! This was big! I was nervous! The actual dyeing was almost anti-climactic :-) Isn't it typical to see new things as complicated and difficult?

Learning to dye fabric

I approached it as I mentioned in my goal setting post.
  • I started by reading a couple of books and blogs, and watching some YouTube videos. I have listed my favourites resources in the Related Links section below.
  • I bought some supplies since the measuring cup, funnel, measuring spoons and whisk shouldn't be used for cooking any more. 
  • I already had my kit and some fabrics but bought a little bit more :-) and raided my stash for a few fat quarters.
  • I made notes - lost the notes and re-wrote more notes!
  • I washed all of the fabric last week, even the Prepared For Dyeing (PFD). After reading all kinds of advice, I just used my usual unscented laundry soap.
Fabric pile ready to dye
  • I put away all of the laundry in the laundry room so that nothing could get accidentally dyed.
  • I mixed the soda ash with the warm water (about one cup for a little more than a gallon), unfolded the fabric and placed it all in the mix.
  • I set everything up on the top of the washer and dryer, with rags under everything.
  • As suggested, I misted the rags so that the dye powders would stick to them rather than float in the air. That was a very valuable tip. You can see from the picture below that the rag underneath the jars is quite colourful from dye powder that stuck to the wet rag.
  • You can also see that my two cups measurement was pretty uneven.
Black, fuchsia, yellow and turquoise prepared dyes 

My supplies and prepared dyes on the washer and dryer
It was now time to take everything outside. 
  • I placed my old picnic table in the sun and then covered it with plastic. 
  • From the original yellow, turquoise and fuchsia dye mixes, I made purple with the turquoise and fuchsia; and green with the yellow and turquoise. I realised half way through the day that I had forgotten to make orange dye.
  • I placed some of each dye in the plastic squirt bottles for easier application.
Dyes ready to use

Table set up in the sun
Then the real work began!
  • I took fabric out of the soda ash water, wrung it and then placed it on the plastic covered table.
  • I found that the hardest part of dyeing fabric was to decide what colours to use. The only piece that I used just one colour on was a fat quarter that I dyed purple, since I had lots left near the end of the day.
  • I tried to dye the fabric with colours that might be used for landscape art quilts. Of course, if I don't like all of the colours on one piece, I can always cut it up.
  • I did a few pieces the way Sharon Collins makes them, by applying different colours of dye on half of the fabric and then folding the other half over it to get a mirror effect. 
I have no idea what I was thinking!
The picture was taken before I covered it with plastic and spread it out.
Let's hope for the best :-)

The fabrics are white on white.
I heard that you can get nice effects by dyeing them.
As I look at the pictures I took of the fabric with dye on it, I'm not sure what to expect. I may have gone a little too crazy with the colours. Oh well, this is what learning is about!

I wish that I could show you the results in this post, but the fabric is still outside. I placed the table where it will get maximum sunlight. I will be removing the fabrics tomorrow and then washing it.

Fabric dyed and waiting to dry.
What I learned
  • Dyeing fabric is a lot of work, but I'm sure that it gets easier with practice!
  • I'm really glad that I misted my work space with water since I got dye powder on the rags. I should have known since I always get flour and sugar all over everything when I bake!
  • I should have cut my plastic pieces before starting to dye - and I should have used heavier plastic. I did use medium weight but I think that heavy weight would probably not have wrinkled as much when placed on top of the fabric. I'm not sure what effect this will have on the dyed fabric. I guess we'll see soon enough!
  • I'm happy to say that I wore my plastic gloves most of the day. I did take them off to arrange the cheese cloth on the table, and then only used one gloved hand to apply the dye. Since most of it was fuchsia, the pink doesn't look too bad on my fingers - and most of it washed out after a shower and doing some dishes.
  • Next time I will probably dye a smaller batch of fabric. I was tired about half way through dyeing my fabrics. 
  • Next time I also want to think more about the colours and the effects that I want to achieve on the fabric since I won't be so worried about the process.
  • I still have some dye mix ready to use. From everything that I've read, it seems to keep from 1 to 5 weeks.
Related Links
Linking parties: I will be linking this post to many link-ups. Follow the fun and see what everyone is working on. Finished or Not FridayOff the Wall FridayCan I Get A Whoop Whoop?Oh Scrap!Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Let's Bee Social,


  1. Hi Andree,
    WOW - dyeing your own fabric!! That is a lot of work. I am impressed. ~smile~ Roseanne

    1. Hi Roseanne. It was less work than I thought, and thank goodness, a lot less messy! I'm actually looking forward to trying out different dyeing techniques soon - I need more greens!

  2. Dying your own fabric is huge, I think! Lots of work and lots of mess, but your results are beautiful. Love that piece.

    1. Thanks Sandy. That's what I thought but with some organisation it was a lot less work and less messy than I expected. Can't wait to make more!

  3. Dying fabric is a big job! Kudos to you for trying it out. I know I've always bought someone else's work! =) You will have something special, however it turns out.

    1. Hi Susan, dyeing fabric is a big job but I'm really glad I did it. It wasn't half as bad as I expected and with a little bit of practice I'll get to know what I like best.

  4. Dyeing is a lot of work, but fun! I haven't done it for a few years due to our drought. Haven't decided to do it again or let go... Thanks for sharing your ups and downs with this process!

    1. Hi Susan, I'm definitely going to do it again, but I doubt that it will be an obsession, like quilting or hexies! At the very least I will more fully appreciate the work and effort if I buy hand-dyed fabrics.

  5. Thanks for hosting. I had fun an learned a lot.

    1. Hi Donna, I'm so glad that you joined me. ps your pattern was mailed a couple of days ago :-)


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