Saturday, May 18, 2013


When I went to the quilt show here in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, the first stand inside the door had fabric dye. There was fabric dye and lots of other bits and pieces for creating fabric works of art. I didn't leave empty handed. I have done a bit of fabric dyeing in the past, but like anything I take on, I go to town. My laundry has looked like a glass works for a few weeks now. The benches are covered in paper, cat litter trays, bottles of made up dyes and measuring paraphernalia. There have been incidents and leakage and the local dam is possibly looking a little depleted, but I have made lots of pretties to touch and pet and maybe even use!!

I have learnt a lot, but mostly I work on the theory of 'lets see what happens when....'.

Originally, I had planned to follow a recipe for 'dyeing in a jar'. I say planned, because my instructions only specified, blue, yellow, red. No other information. I had Navy, Fire Engine Red and Yellow (I was also in possession of Lilac, Violet and Black and Pale Aqua = a waste in the Procion colour chart). The other incident that occurred was a numeric one. My first batch was to be 24 colours following the recipe. I bought six metres of fabric. My maths skills (although often limited), really left me on this day. There I was gaily ripping fabric - half and half and half, etc......when I should have been measuring 1 metre lengths and then making those into fat 1/4's. So, instead of 24, I had 18. Not to be deterred, I went and bought another 10 metres of white broadcloth, by then it was on sale for $4 a metre; absolute bargain. After ripping this lot, I was now facing a tally of 37 bits of fabric.

I measured, I guessed, I tipped carelessly and with wild abandon. Most of these colours had a 1/4 teaspoon of black dye mix added.    So now I have these.....

I played around with folding and pinching and just scrunching the fabric.   Each method reveals something different.

By the time I got to the last couple of fabric pieces, I had run out of jars, bags and my enthusiasm was waning.   I mention litter trays earlier.   I used those for the last three pieces - this was one of the successful ones.   I twisted the fabric and then made a snail shape.   I then poured some dye remnants - just bits here and there.     As I was cleaning up, I suddenly realised that I hadn't added any salt to the fabric so threw a handful at the project and tipped a bit of the soda ash solution over the whole lot.   This one was the best of the three.  
I do not like this colour mauve.   When dyeing with the 24 jar system, you get this colour.   Too many times for my liking.    Stupidly, I realised when mixing up either the violet or lilac, I can't remember which one it is, that when the fabric hit the dye, I had actually purchased this colour - making even more of it.   Here you can see, the mauve with a bit of blue.   

This one had too much white anyway......
and the same applied to this one - another of the fake tie dyes.

I remedied the situation by washing all the fabrics I didn't like and giving them a second colour.
Much better now...

I'm not sure if the last one is an over dye.   I think it looks like a row of chest/pelvis xrays.   Don't be concerned, I think if you look really hard at lots of these fabrics you can see faces, owls...........well those of us who are a bit 'touched' can!!

But wait, I haven't finished with the dye yet......these are last nights collection.    For these jars I used two cups of the dye mixture for each colour block.   I put 1/2 cup in a jar and then added 1/2 cup of water back into the dye mixture.   I repeated the process for six jars.   There was some left over.     I kept that til the end.
I made up a blue with a hint of yellow, and a yellow with blue, red and red with a hint of yellow.     Here they are sitting quietly overnight. 

Here is O'Reilly, asleep, waiting for me to get out of the laundry.   Laundry = Cat Food .  Cat food = Snack.   Total sum of Cat Food + Laundry = Dog getting yelled at.    Dog is really tired of waiting.......

 These are the pots of leftover dye poured into the jars in different spots - some of these were quite weak solutions, we'll see the results soon.....

If you don't have enough jars, ziplock bags work well.   I would recommend putting them in to another bag or into the litter trays whilst they are brewing up their fabulousness.
Salt added to the bags....
 Use good quality bags.   Less chance of leaking.   
Still waiting, change of position.......
 I eat slowly.    Usually everyone else has lost interest and left the table....except these two.   Waiting for a morsel, they are as bad as each other.   This doesn't speed me up any........
As the nights are getting colder in Melbourne, these two wrestle for poll position by the fire.   Harv is pictured here using O'Reilly's muzzle as a pillow.    
The last of the fabrics are going around in the washer and dryer as we speak.   I will post when they are all ironed and pretty.     Some of them are quite striking.   
Sue xxx 

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I would love to hear from you, just so I know I am not talking to myself - the cat is tired and so is the dog!