Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dyeing with Mom

As a Christmas/Mother's day (pick your holiday!) gift, I wanted to teach my mom how to dye fabric. I felt like it would be something she would enjoy, since she loves to play with color. Beforehand we bought a bolt of 15 yards of 90" wide fabric. I figured it to be 30 yards of "regular" width of fabric. I also bought 8 more yards of white on white for background fabric to go with the dyed fabric.

On Tuesday morning at 11 we start to set up for dyeing. I did warn my mom to wear clothing that she wouldn't get upset about spilling dye on. Just her clumsy daughter speaking. ;)

I mixed all the chemicals together (dyes and soda ash fixer). I showed mom how I just squirt a little dye in the cup, swirl it around to get the idea of the color and add more if I wished. No measuring for me. She caught on very quick and it ended up being me mostly keeping an eye on the time and adding the soda ash or more fabric (for value gradation). Mom was in her element playing and mixing the dyes together.

Yes, towards the end we deliberately spilled dye on the table and used our hands to "paint" the fabric. Very interesting results!

Here are some of the dyed fabric in various dishes.

We ended up dyeing every last inch of the bolt of muslin we bought - and most were in FQ size. In fact we started saying "ohh! We need more fabric... more fabric..." and used all of the 8 yards of background I got. Hey, we could always buy more. :) So almost 40 yards of fabric, all dyed in one day!

Did I mention that I can be clumsy? I had a few mishaps during that day. Including trying to stir a fabric in a cup twice and having a spoonful of dye fly straight up at a me. :P

I rarely cuss around my mom... but when that red dye splattered all over my shirt, my face and almost right into my eyes; I'm afraid a cuss word did slip out as I hastily wiped my face. :/ I definately have a permanent dyeing outfit now. This craft is not for the neatniks. :)

We had beautiful results! The only disappointing thing was how misleading wet fabric can look. We thought we had several darker pieces, but they didn't hold onto their color as strongly as we hoped for. So next time, more dye! More dye! We had quite a bit of red and blue dye left. Just a hint of yellow remained. And I did suggest we find some white underwear to dye... :D

But you can see some of the white on white fabric that was dyed. I think those pieces turned out really pretty!! There goes my already dwindling supply of background fabrics. :P

Mom wanted to do a miniature quilt with all the handdyes. So we picked something simple (log cabins, paperpieced) and she carefully went through all the dyed fabric picking the perfect match.

I do have to say that the dark is NOT one of our handdyes. It was bought at a quilt shop over a year ago and somehow it fits in pretty well with the handdyes. I hope Mom is still working on the blocks (36 in all) - said she'd email me a picture once she finishes them all. :)

The end results? Mom loves dyeing waaaaaaaaaaaay more than I ever expected. Now she wants to dye fabric by the hundred-yards. And I also enjoyed working with her very much. I'm not so strongly into the color aspect of dyeing, and I tire much faster than she does in trying to find different color combinations. But with both of us working on the dyeing process together, it was easy and fun. Plus, my parents have the perfect house for dyeing! Big garage with a huge dinged-up table, laundry sink near by to get more fresh water or rinse off; they have a boiler of a water heater, so I never had to worry about running out of hot water like I do in my apartment. No backaches or knee-aches from bending over the tub either! And Mom has a front-load washing machine, which I feel is better/more cleaner than top-loading machines. And there's no agitator to stress the fabric. Many hands sure make the dyeing process lighter. :)

And we pretty much split the fabric in half. Since they were mostly FQs, I cut 1.5", 2", 2.5" and 3" which totals to 9" - half of an 18x22 piece. I did keep three 45x54 pieces (backings) and left mom with a 1-yard piece and another too-pretty-to-be-a-backing piece.

I'm just thrilled that she loves it so much and plan on dyeing every time I visit! :)



Serena said...

Looks like you had a ton fo fun!!! I will have to try dyeing some fabric sometime!! Your colors turned out beautiful!

Helen in the UK said...

Sounds like you had a lot of fun together. Lovely colours of fabrics. Looking forward to seeing your mum's finished log cabin piece :)

anne bebbington said...

You sound like you had a terrific time with the added benefit of a whole load of new fabric as a bonus - I'm so envious, good for you

computerpeach said...

Looks like lots of fun. One of these days I want to try to dye fabric...

Sweet P said...

What a great way to spend time with your mom! I have been thinking about dyeing fabric, but in my small place it probably wouldn't be easy. Maybe I could go to my MIL's house . . . it's big, has a garage . . .m m m m

fabricmom said...

Sounds like you had a great time with your mom. And you have some beautiful fabric to boot. You should each make each other something with the fabric you dyed for memories sake.

Dawn said...

Oh Leah, what fun you two had! And your fabrics turned out so beautiful! What a treasure to share this with your mom! I"ve missed having time to come visit your blog - so I"m glad you have been having fun!

deputyswife said...

I have never thought about dyeing fabric. After reading this, I think I might try to do it! Seriously, I love the colors you have. I will have to 'google' fabric dyeing to see what I need to do.

I wanted to stop by and say thank you for commenting on my post the other day. I was having another trying day of motherhood. Thanks for coming and being supportive. I appreciate it!