Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Delightful Dye!

There's nothing like mixing a spot of dye and turning plain, white fabric into colourful cloth! I feel a bit like a mad scientist when donning my elbow-length rubber gloves and dust mask before prying open cans of dye powder.
Five step colour gradation from yellow, to fuchsia.

Because I can easily mix secondary and tertiary colours, I only buy primary die powders. I also have brown, a couple of other earth tones, and black.

Normally I would dye larger pieces (at least a fat quarter), but for this session I wanted smaller ones. I can rip a metre of muslin into 9 equal(ish) pieces measuring roughly 12.5 x 14 inches. 
Yes, I've used both metric and imperial measurements...welcome to quilting in Canada! ;)

Working with small pieces allows experimentation without pressure. If things go well, the pieces are big enough to use. If things go off the rails (a distinct possibility!), it's no big loss.

Washed to remove manufacturing chemicals, dried (NO fabric softener), and then ripped to size.
Soda ash must be used to activate the Procion MX fiber reactive dye. It can be added into the process in a number of ways. I decided to soak my fabric in a soda ash solution as a first step.

Fabric soaking in soda ash solution.
1/2 cup soda ash to a gallon of water.
Call me crazy, but I just love doing things for the sake of having fun!

Memba tie dye?

I happily tied, scrunched, crumpled, swirled, pleated, folded, and twisted fabric in preparation for dyeing.

Some pieces went into baggies or Styrofoam cups to keep them compressed. Compression helps create more texture because the dye cannot penetrate the fabric evenly. 

Pieces that would hold their shape in a bucket or on a tray were dyed in place. I used very little dye solution (low immersion), so I covered the dyed fabric with plastic wrap to keep things moist.

Results are more predictable if you understand how colours mix, but serendipity plays a huge role once the dye is added. It's fun to sling the dye around and see what happens!

Bound with rubber bands & dyed with yellow and fuchsia.

Pleated, folded in half, and possibly twisted. Dyed with yellow and brown.
Does anyone else see trees?

Swirled on a tray and dyed with turquoise and fuchsia.

Folded and compressed with flat objects. Dyed with yellow and fuchsia.

Pleated and folded in half. Dyed with turquoise, yellow, and brown.

Rubber bands. I may have used clean, dry fabric, adding the soda ash solution along with the dye.
Can't remember now...shoulda written it down!
Dyed with all three primary colours (yellow, fuchsia, turquoise).
Could have made "mud", but the dye was applied in a tray so there was less mixing.

More pleating...obviously one of my favourite things to do. I mixed an orange from yellow and fuchsia.
Dyed with orange and brown.

"Parfait" dyed in a cup
Dyed with yellow and turquoise.

Tightly folded and secured with rubber bands.
Turquoise dye at half strength (I added more water to my dye mix).

Scrunched in a cup (I love the texture!). Fuchsia dye at half strength.
You can see this has become a bit of an addiction, and I haven't even shown you everything! ('cause I like you too much for that! Ha!)

I meant to take more "in progress" photos but, once the rubber gloves are on, it's hard to remember to pause and shoot.

Between rounds of dye, the apples needed picking...

...and several of these needed to be made and frozen.

My garden is always demanding attention, too. I've been busy watering, weeding, hacking down overgrown shrubs, and making huge pots of soup with homegrown vegetables. Yum!
Yesterday I visited my lonely longarm for a quick hug and kiss. Soon we will be back together. Summer in the north is fleeting so I'm making the most of it, but I sure do miss quilting!

I think this one will be up next:

Floral Fireworks
Ugh, I must take a better is gorgeous, but you can't tell from this!

Does anyone else find it challenging to quilt in the summer, or is it just me???

Linking up with:
Show and Tell Tuesday, at i have to say
Linky Tuesday, at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social, at Sew Fresh Quilts
I Quilt Thursdays, at Pretty Bobbins

Try, Learn, Grow!

Comments are welcome and will be answered by email where possible. Thanks for looking around!


  1. Wow, you really do like your dyeing. I keep thinking I should try it (inspired by posts like this) as you get such individual fabric.

  2. You gave me courage to try a little bit of dying. Your fabrics turned out gorgeous but I really love the Floral Fireworks quilt! I would like some details photos of it. I just discovered your blog and I'm sure that I will return.

  3. Your dyed fabrics are fantastic. It is something I would love to have time to play with. Maybe I will have to make time and have a go.

  4. I can tell you had a lot of fun! Wish I could more dyeing, but can't afford to use the water right now--drought conditions!

  5. Such fun dyed pieces. I really have wanted to do more since I took a class on dyeing but I don't want to buy it all and then not do it. I tend to do, anyway, I like that you do small pieces and then use them. Love it all.

  6. Fun dyed pieces. It's so helpful that you wrote directions of what you did to which piece. Thanks for the eye candy, especially your lovely flower quilt. Great use of hand dyes.

  7. Stunning fabrics. I can see trees in that one aswell. They look like they are being reflected in a lake xxx

  8. Really enjoyed this post, thank you for writing about the process, very helpful. Love your finished dyed pieces. And personally I think that quilt does already look gorgeous, so it must be going to look amazingly stunning in a better photo!

  9. I still haven't tried dyeing fabric but it's moving quickly to the top of the list. Your results are sensational. I especially like the effects you received with folding the fabric. I absolutely love Floral Fireworks. The design and colours are stupendous (I needed a better word than amazing).


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