Saturday, September 21, 2019

Playing with dye

I've dyed fabric a few times in the last couple of years. The first time was flat-dyeing, and the second and third times were snow and ice dyeing respectively. This time I did some low-water immersion dyeing. It really isn't that much work and has a lot of potential.

Low-water immersion dyeing
Some lovely folded low-immersion dyed fabric

Setting up my dyeing session in the laundry room
I wish that I could show you pictures of the wonderful mason jars full of colour and fabric, but I left my camera/phone upstairs. I did all of the preparation and dyeing in the basement laundry room. The image you see here is from the first time that I mixed dye in the basement - and it looked a lot like this :-)

After removing the clothes hanging above the washer, I covered the washer and dryer with plastic and then fabric. Have you noticed that when you'r prepared for a mess, that it doesn't happen?

This time I used 6 different Procion MX dyes - grass green, turquoise, yellow, raspberry and fuchsia. I didn't mix the dyes together.

I used the book Fast, fun & easy fabric dyeing by Lynn Koolish. I usually buy the e-book versions since they are much less expensive, especially if I have to get them shipped to Canada, but I am really happy that I have the hard copy. It was so much easier to consult the book while dyeing the fabric.

The book is really excellent. The instructions are easy to follow. I especially liked the images that illustrate the different results you can obtain using the different techniques.

I went straight to the Textured dyeing chapter. I used one and two-colour dyeing, placing the scrunched fabrics and the rolled fabrics in the small containers technique.

I used some regular white Kona fabric but also wanted to find out how non-white fabrics would turn out. I dyed a variety of fabrics such as a striped cotton hand-woven towel, a piece of natural linen (from a skirt), a piece from my husband's old cotton khaki pants, some yellow cotton napkins as well as an old hand-woven placemat.

Here are pictures of some of the finished fabrics. Since I didn't take pictures during the process and very few notes, the descriptions are mostly assumptions based on the finished dyed fabric 😊

These were white cotton napkins. The top two were folded using elastics and a couple of clothes pins. I had fuchsia in the bottom of the container and added turquoise on top. The bottom napkins were scrunched in separate containers using only one colour each - fuchsia and turquoise.
Low water-immersion dyeing of white napkins
Low water-immersion dyeing of white napkins
The three fabrics here were scrunched up in different mason jars. The left one in fuchsia, the right one in raspberry and the bottom one in yellow. The fabric dyed in raspberry is a beautiful piece of natural linen.
Low water-immersion dyeing using only one colour each
These two larger pieces are two halves of the fabric that I placed over the plastic to protect my work space (dryer!) I decided to dye them since I still had dye and was running out of handy fabric. I folded them from the centre using elastics to keep them together and placed them in fuchsia dye. The small splatters of extra colours come from previous dyeing sessions.
Folder fabric from the centre in fuchsia dye
Folded fabric from the centre
in fuchsia dye with a little yellow
Folder fabric from the centre in diluted fuchsia dye
Folder fabric from the centre in diluted fuchsia dye

The next fabrics were experiments. This first fabric is a cotton-woven placemat. The left side is a piece of the original placemat while the right one was over-dyed in raspberry. The white warp threads really stand out after the dyeing.

Over-dyeing hand-woven cotton placemats
Over-dyeing hand-woven cotton placemats

These were yellow cotton napkins. I had started to embroider a rose on the left on. It was dyed in green while the other one got both green and yellow.

Yellow napkins dyed with green

These two pieces are cotton knit fabric. The top one was dry when I scrunched it into the mason jar while the bottom one was wet and dyed using the green and turquoise.
Cotton knit fabric
There are no pictures of the khaki fabric and the dishcloth since I thought that I would spare you the very ugly results. I'll include my thoughts in the "What I learned" section below.

Snow and Ice Dyeing

When my girlfriend came to visit in early March, we did a little bit of snow dyeing in the garage. She had to leave before seeing the results. So here they are!

Subtle colours from snow dying using dye powders

I had read on the internet that I could put the dye powder in salt and pepper shakers and just shake the dye over the snow.

It turns out that this technique is better used for ice dyeing. When the powdered dye is placed directly on the snow, it becomes diluted and results in pale colours.

Lightly dyed fabric

A few weeks later, I did some ice dyeing using the same technique of placing the dye directly on the ice. I did add a little bit of snow over the ice since I wasn't sure that I had made enough ice. This was done in the laundry room.
Ice topped with snow for dyeing
All set up for ice dyeing

Ice and snow melted - wet dyed fabric

This time the results were much brighter. I love the patterns that the ice makes on the fabric. You'll notice that the results are mostly fuchsia - that's because I was almost out of all of my other colours.

Beautiful design from ice dyeing

Ice dyeing with little bits of colour
What I learned
  • As I was preparing to write this post, I re-read my original post from 2 years ago about dyeing fabric. I wish that I had read it before doing the dyeing. I didn't even think about it because I was using a different dyeing technique. 
  • This time I did research on what to do with the fabric after dyeing it. It seems to be very important to soak the fabric in cold water to stop the dyeing process. After that comes the hot water rinsing or washing. Of course everyone has a different recipe for dyeing but I followed Lynn Koolish's advice. I washed the fabric in hot water three times and my dye catcher become less pink each time. It was still light pink after the third wash, but since I'm using the fabrics in art quilts, I stopped at that point.
  • I dyed the khaki fabric with green and yellow dye. I suppose I might be able to use it in a desert landscape but it wasn't impressive. As for the dishcloth, I dyed it near the end and just streaked it with colour, and that's what it looks like. I will keep these to over dye at some point. 
  • I really loved the results of the ice dyeing and will definitely repeat this technique. 
  • The fabric that was snow dyed is very light. I will probably over dye some of it eventually.
  • I'm looking forward to playing with this fabric and including them in my art work. Even the rather garish fabrics from my first dyeing experiment have been very useful since I just cut out the part that I want to use for a specific project.
Related links
Linking parties
I'll be linking up to many fun linky parties. Let's see what everyone is up to! I'm linking up to Free Motion Mavericks with Muv and will be hosting it on Thursday. Remember that you don't have to do FMQ to link up! Off The Wall Friday, Finished or Not Finished Friday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Peacock Party, Main Crush Monday, Monday Making, Design Wall Monday, Moving It Forward, What I Made MondayMidweek MakersTuesday Colour Linky PartyNeedle & Thread ThursdayPut Your Foot Down, New to Me 2019,


    1. Wow the results are so unique!! what fun!

    2. Beautiful results! I saw another blogger mention ice dyeing. It looks like so much fun. I may have to try this.

    3. What fun! I had to chuckle when you mentioned the step of "remove clean laundry from the laundry room" as part of your preparation for dyeing... That would be the step I'd forget. In fact, that's why I haven't done any experiments of my own with fabric dye. I've had horrific results with a couple of commercially dyed fabrics, so I feel like the chance of me dyeing fabric myself and having it come out colorfast seem slim, and I worry that I'd ruin my laundry machines, whatever clothes I'm wearing, and splatter the dye all over the walls, stain my arms like Easter eggs... But then you're obviously not as accident prone as I am. :-). I love that fuschia fabric that you dyed with ice and snow. Where do you live, that you had snow available in September? Here in North Carolina we hardly ever get any snow at all, and when we do it is just like a thin layer of frosty dandruff over the bright green lawns!

    4. Hello Andrée, this looks like great fun. That fuchsia is a beautiful colour! I have dyed things in the washing machine in the past, and also done some silk painting, but I have never used this method. Probably because we don't often get decent snow, and I don't really trust myself not to make a mess.
      Love, Muv

    5. I've been looking for a tried and true method of dying with organics. Or really any dye that will hold up washing. Any thoughts? Oh, thank you for linking up to Put your foot down. I'm off to check out this book.

    6. This was so interesting to read. I've never tried dyeing fabrics, but think the process is very interesting. Your fabrics are different and unique. I was especially drawn to the linen piece - I think it is my fav!

    7. Oh, I have some procion dyes and I did some low immersion dying way back, but I've forgotten how. Maybe I need to chase up that book! Thanks for linking to Colour & Inspiration Tuesday.

    8. What a thorough post and so helpful, I am now tempted to try some fabric dying! Thanks for linking up to New to Me too :)


    Hi! I would love to hear from you and I will try to answer you. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a message. :-)