Ya Gotta Keep Trying

I keep saying this to myself, as well as to others. I tried ONE MORE TIME to dye some deep colors on cotton. By the way, I am using “premium bleached muslin,” most probably from Joann’s. I am using Procion MX dyes from ProChem. And this time I followed (mostly) the instruction sheet from ProChem on “low immersion” dyeing. I wrote down three dye formulas for deep blue, deep forest green, and dark barn red. The red is not barn red, but the other two were almost exactly what I was looking for.

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I am going to see how much I like using the fabrics I have dyed. Because the rinsing required is incredible. It is much more rinsing than anyone’s instructions I have heard or read. I think they know if they tell you how much you are going to have to rinse, it will scare you off.

Nevertheless, it makes me very happy that I was actually able to dye what I set out to dye.

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Finished?

At the end of my Sisters trip, I pieced this together. I simply wanted a background of my hand-dyed fabric to embroider on. I wanted to see how it was to stitch through. (My hand-dyes so far are muslin and Robert Kaufman’s Kona PFD fabric.) I just intended to do some straight line stitching on it. Then it just seemed like it needed some circles. Some of the circles are stitched straight on the fabric, while others have a solid appliqué background. BTW, my hand-dyes are LOVELY to stitch through. Not hard to figure out, since both of those fabrics are not tightly woven.

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Since this was a quilt that I started while traveling, and continued to work on at home and in my travels, this seemed like the perfect verse. I used variegated thread for the lettering. I should probably stop doing that…

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I do love my little circles. I guess you could tell that by the amount of pictures I take of them 🙂

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For these circles, I made a rule that I could only use the running stitch (of course the appliquéd edges are blanket stitch.)

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I put a question mark after “Finished?” in the title, because I think this little piece might need a bit more quilting in the background.

Here is one more look at a quilt I think I already shared with you. It is bound now, and it really is finished.

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Colorful Sunday!

The summer of dying continues! I am leaving in a few days for a workshop with Rosalie Dace. I love her work, and she is an excellent teacher. I took one one-day class with her several years ago, and I actually retained quite a bit of what I learned from her. That is the sign of a good teacher. Anyway, hand-dyed fabrics are listed on the supply list for this class, so I decided to try to get one more dye session in before I leave. I cut 16 yard and half-yard pieces of the Kona PFD and muslin fabrics, and had four unsuccessful pieces from the last dye day that I wanted to try over-dying. I planned to prep them and dye half on Saturday and half on Sunday. After dying half of the pieces on Saturday, I realized that if I dyed all of them  that day, I could rinse all of them on Sunday and be done with the project. That was definitely a good plan!

Here is what I came up with.

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This is the most unique piece–it was dyed in a ziplock baggie! I put some green dye in the bottom of the bag, and put part of the fabric in the bag. then I scrunched a bit more fabric in the bag and added a second color, and then added the rest of the fabric and added a third color. Honestly, I don’t even remember what colors I was adding. It looks like more colors than I actually added!

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And this is my favorite piece from this session. It was done in the glad ware container. One color was placed in the container, and half the fabric was put in. Then I scrunched the rest of the fabric into the container, and dumped a second color on top. It is prettier in person than in this picture.

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My takeaway from this dye session is that I don’t really need repeatable formulas, like I had when I was dying fiber for resale. But I would like to know what each basic dye actually looks like, so I will be more informed when I combine dyes. The fabric does not even look close to the same color when it is wet as compared to when it is rinsed and dried. I have a hard time remembering what I actually did/what dyes I used. So later I will do some controlled experiments.

And speaking of rinsing. That is driving me nuts. There shouldn’t be that much dye to rinse out. So I need to do some more experiments with applying a bit more heat or using a bit less dye. Its tiring to do that much rinsing, and then still worry that more will rinse out later.

But overall, it is quite thrilling to be dying my own fabric. My own colors, each piece unique to me. I don’t know why I waited so long to try!

 

The Summer of Dying, Day Three

Well, you knew I would have to do something with that pile of pretty fabrics that I DYED ALL BY MYSELF! I am surprised at how delighted I am with this new skill set. I am dreaming of turning my old laundry dungeon into a wet studio when all the other work on the house is done!

I looked through my journal and found a Sunday morning doodle that would be just right for semi-solid fabrics. Last night I auditioned the fabrics, and decided where they would go in the design. This design would require me to actually measure and accurately cut and sew fabric. Ahem…

So, I didn’t measure to make sure I would have enough fabric for each section. Partly because I didn’t know until I got to that part how much fabric I would need. When I got to the final round, not only did I NOT have enough of the green, I also cut the first two pieces incorrectly.

I took a lunch break and stewed over what I was going to do. In the end, I increased the size of the purple pieces by one inch, so the greens that I had cut too short would now be the right size. And I decided to use a different color on the bottom border. And then when I was auditioning it on my design wall, I decided that I’d just go for it and make that border even bigger.

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I like this piece. I don’t like accurate cutting and piecing, especially when I am the one having to figure it out. I ripped out a lot of seams. And using the mottled hand-dyes? Sometimes a weird ghostly bunny face appears right where you don’t want it, and you have to cut another piece of fabric and undo another seam. Because when you might use the quilt in your series “The Signature of Jesus,” you don’t want a bunny face on it.

The Summer of Dying, Day 2

Well, I am learning as I go. I think I want to do some more controlled experiments, and take some notes as I go so I can remember what I was thinking at the time I did the dye. But I’m pretty pleased with these pieces.

My BF and I had been talking about how its hard to find good purples for your stash. So of course I had to experiment with dying purple. This was the scrunchy glad ware method. I must have started scrunching from the corner. I did try to let part of the fabric stay in the dye just a bit before I added the rest–to try to get a gradation of color.

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This piece is deeper colored and prettier in person. I think I used three colors of red. Again with the scrunchy method.

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These are all the pieces I consider a success.

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These are not so successful. I think they are pale because I tried using up the leftover dyes from the previous days’ batches. Even though the water looks deeply colored, and it looks dark on the fabric, most of the dye rinsed out. So I guess that dye was “exhausted” even if it didn’t look like it. These are also all from the flat fold method. I noticed that Robin used a very concentrated dye mixture. And now I realize that that is because applying it directly to the fabric, you can’t really get much solution on, so it needs to be concentrated. Anyway, I will try this method again, because it has a lot of possibilities. I will probably try overdying these pieces. On my next dye day. Next week…

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The Summer of Dying has Begun!

Well, I did it! Yesterday morning I took a deep breath, looked over all the different dying methods I had been studying, and went out and mixed up some dyes!

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I have a lot of experience dying protein fiber (wool, silk, angora, alpaca, etc.) But cotton fabric is a completely different animal. The dyes for the protein fibers requires a lot of heat, and you also have to be very careful with the fibers or they will turn to felt. The cotton requires a little heat, but basically that is taken care of by a day in the hot sun. And of course, there is no problem with felting cotton fabric, so you can manipulate it without fear.

I had watched a Jane Dunnewold class on Craftsy (super-informative,) and read over Melody Johnson’s notes on The Lazy Dyer. I also had a Quilting Arts article by Robin Ferrier that I had saved for several years. I ended up using a bit of advice from each of these dyers.

To start, I cut half-yard lengths off of the super-cheap bolt of muslin that I had bought from Joann’s. That took a little worry out of the equation. If I ruined it, or dyed horrid colors, I was not out that much money.

I pre-washed the muslin, and then soaked it in a bucket with some soda ash. Then I mixed up my dyes in some old mason jars I had. And I put some dyes on the fabric! I tried several techniques.

The hardest part was waiting a day to see if it worked. This morning I was out there in my nightgown rinsing the excess dye out. After rinsing each piece of fabric several times, I put it in the washing machine and then dryer. The most fun was ironing all these beautiful fabrics that I had DYED MYSELF!!!

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Close-ups of a couple of the multi-color fabrics:

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One interesting thing was that I actually preferred the texture of the cheap muslin to the more expensive PFD (prepared for dying) Kona cotton that I had bought.

And then I was ready to do it all over again! I pre-soaked some more cut yards of the Kona cotton in the soda ash while I went to church. And then I came home and tried some new colors and color combos, and a different technique.

The table I am using–kind of a funny story. I saved it for years for my studio. But it was pretty ruined, so it got rejected. It got moved off of the porch that became the studio onto the deck, got rained on some more, and finally got moved off of the deck to this location. The only reason it was still here is that I have not gotten someone to come and haul it away yet. It turned out to be the PERFECT table in the PERFECT location (right next to my outdoor sink,) for doing this kind of dying.

The big piece of fabric is the method described in the Quilting Arts article. You put down a layer of painter’s plastic and then dye a piece, and another piece of plastic on top, with another piece of fabric to dye a different color, etc. You can dye up to 12 layers of fabric this way! Very fun and easy to do.

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Then you have to weigh it down while you leave it overnight. Ha! All those trees I’ve had chopped down came in handy!

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And then I dyed some fabric using Jane D’s Gladware method.

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And now I have to wait another 24 hours to see how this batch has turned out!