Thursday, January 05, 2006

In love with dyeing!

Wow! Who could know that it'd be so much fun playing with chemicals? I dreaded any science in highschool and college. I didn't even get good grades in those class. Ok. So I got a B in college nutrition. From a gal that prefers A's... that really hurt! :)

I was a little freaked out at first - I must have read Ann Johnston's "Color by Accident" 20 times over before actually starting. Which I have to say, it's a GREAT book and the directions make so much sense. Even though she gives you a formula how to do such and such, it was easy to understand how to "play" around with color values.

The hardest part for me was getting the dye powders into useable stock. I was really afraid of spilling some of the powder or urea stuff. I did do it outside. My husband came home right when I was about to start... nothing like being greeted by somebody who's wearing a mask, long rubber gloves and glasses. ;) Oh yeah, that was the annoying part; the urea directions said NOT to wear contacts, so I had to pop on my old scratchy glasses. The ones that my sister SAT on. (Yes, the one that I'm giving the Purple Pineapple Blossom to). We were trying on wedding dresses for me and I took my glasses off to get the dress on and she sat down to look at me... ohhh! So like 2 weeks before the wedding I rushed to get an exam and get contacts and have been wearing them since! Another reason why I love contacts is because they don't slip as you're looking down at the sewing machine needle or rotary cutting. :)

So where was I? Oh, dye stock. Once that was done, it really got exciting. I measured out the first dye and then said "heck with it!" and started squeezing random amounts in. Fun! :) Here's some fabric-in-progress.

Fat quarters work out the best for me.

But I still did try out one 1-yard piece. What a rainbow of colors!

All said and done... I still have 2/3rd of my dye stock left. Wow. So today I washed about 15 more yards of fabric. I'm gonna cut most of them into fat quarters. I will be trying more "specific" stuff tomorrow - like getting a bunch of pastel colors. I'm thinking scrappy baby blanket. I want to try a few more stuff in Ann's book, now that I'm feeling braver since I "dipped my toes in the water". :)

For anybody interested, I live in an apartment; so even in this small space, fabric dyeing is rather doable. My hardest part is getting them washed. I'll be going over to the in-law's tomorrow night and get to use their washer, which is why I'm doing tomorrow's batch in the morning. I have heard of small washing machines that you hook up to your kitchen sink or dishwasher. I'm not ready to make that investment yet. Not with an electric water heater! :)

The cost will pay off in the long run - I lucked out by buying a bolt of roc-lon muslin (25 yards) for $40 - using a 40% off coupon. My mother-in-law bought the dye starter kit ($50-ish) and gave me a $25 gift card to WalMart which I used to buy the supplies that don't come with the kit. I also love to eat and mix cottage cheese with lots of stuff, so I have dozens of cottage cheese containers which are very compatable with FQs. Do remember not to put them back with your regular dishes! :) All in all, for a little over $100 you can dye a bolt of fabric - depending on how much dye you use for each piece.

Do you have any idea how much some people charge for handdyed fabric? I remember last year going to a quilt show and they had this beautiful pack of 20 FQs in jeweled tones for $80!! Yikes! That's $16.00 a yard. My starter bolt is only costing me about $5 a yard. But since I'm thrifty, I'll remind myself I only paid for the bolt of fabric, everything else was covered... so technically, I only paid $1.25 a handdyed yard. Not bad, huh? ;) I kinda feel like I just got a bunch more new and beautiful fabric... without even going to the store! :)


P.S. I'm steadily working on the mystery, should have pictures tomorrow if I don't get too hyped up about dyeing! Oooh. That sounds terrible. :P I accidently said to my husband yesterday, "I love dyeing!" Good thing he knew exactly what I meant! :)


Nancy said...

I've been wanting to try dyeing and your yummy pictures make me want to do it NOW! I can see that could easily become another obsession. But what a way to get around a stashbuster pledge. If you already have the base fabric you could just dye up whatever color you want.

Finn said...

Leah, I love your new hand dying things..*VBS* You are off to a great start!! Let me add a tiny bit..I took a hand dying class on 2 occasions and loved it both times. Bought a book, but only 1 jar of the dye powder..several years later..(red face here) I still haven't "gotten a round 2 it"...LOL. The class that was the most fun, we worked with pint jars..which work beautifully also. And I dyed a wow..or won muslin. Wasn't intending to, but grabbed it thinking it was just muslin..oh well.
Anyway, the gal talked about over dying fabrics we already a stripe or something with a light background that we didn't love. I still get excited about that part. Maybe will have to give it a try yet. But not in winter in WI...LOL. If you can do it outdoors water from a hose is good I think. Thanks for stopping over to see me...Yah..CSI!!!

quiltpixie said...

Good for you to be brave -- and boy I'd say it really paid off from the pics. In central Canada too much of the year is cold, with the rest being full of mosquitoes to face dying outside... And I'm just not brave enough to try it in my laundry room...

Nines said...

WOW!! I am impressed! Your fabs are...FAB!! You did a great job- I love hand-dyed fabric. Darcie, in the Maverick ring, has recently posted some pics of things she has done with her own. That was quite an adventure, wasn't it? Bummer about the washer machine, but at least you have pleasant weather. I am looking forward to summer. I need to try this! Thanks so much for sharing!