For Sew On Northern California, Janice and I thought we’d try fabric dyeing. We were looking for something fun to do that would bring home a one-of-a-kind treat for our attendees, and fabric dyeing seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Of course, though, we wanted to make sure it worked before the retreat!
We decided to go the easy route — using RIT dye. We thought about using powdered dyes, but we were afraid of the liability that might be associated with those dyes, plus everyone would need gloves and face masks, etc. So, we went RIT.
We had six basic colors to work with: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
We actually took this day as an experiment. We tried dyeing some of the fabric using Jeni’s tutorial over at In Color Order — this method involved an additional soaking of the fabric in soda ash, to help seal the color. Other fabric, we just used the RIT instructions. We are going to wash our test fabrics several times to determine the colorfastness of each method — that will be posted in a different blog. We’ll use the results to inform how we do the dyeing at the retreat.
We had five containers, which meant five colors. We used the dye as-is for yellow, orange, and green, and mixed ourselves some teal and magenta. Our fabric was three white-on-white patterns — the white ink on the patterns is resistance to the dye, which creates a two-tone result. All our fabric was we pre-washed. The directions call for the fabric to be wet (damp) before you dye it.
The process is simple. In a container, combine 2 tablespoons kosher salt with 1 quart of boiling water. Add two tablespoons of dye and stir thoroughly. Dunk your fabric (we used fat quarters) and stir for five minutes. Then soak for an additional 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear — definitely use gloves, or your hands will be a bit green. Not that it happened. *hides hands* Wash with like colors. Easy!
After the first round with each color, we used the same dye to soak a second piece of fabric, mixing up the colors a little to give us a better teal and a light grass green. As you can see from our clothesline shot, we found that the teal just really wanted to be green! We’ll be working on that one a little more. I am really happy with the magenta color we created, though, as well as the grass green.
We absolutely loved how our dyed fabrics turned out, and we both thought it was a lot of fun. I think it’s safe to say that we’re hooked — I want to give dyeing an ombre effect a try, as well as some “resistance” techniques, to create additional patterns in the dye.
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