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! :)