Tuesday, May 17, 2011

To Dye For

Last Wednesday, when the sun was actually shining, I decided to have myself a little arts and crafts field day. A few months back I bought a pile of white cotton canvas with the intention of dying it to make some new bags. I put it off and put it off (because I'm really good at that) until the moment finally hit me. And, let me tell you, it was a blast! I even took pictures so I could share it with you. Aren't you the lucky bunch? I'll even give you a play by play just in case you want to try this at home.

So. I started out with several yards of white fabric. I had already washed and dried it (very important). It took all of my good pots and bowls to mix all six of the colors I had picked out. Each dye is dissolved in four cups of hot water with a good heaping tablespoon of salt mixed in. Be sure to have some good rubber gloves and a wet towel handy for wiping your hands between colors. My tools of choice were some cheap kitchen sponges and a few angled paint sponges.

You'll want to put down a plastic drop cloth for this. The dye will soak right through the fabric and into whatever is below. So please, don't get crazy and try this inside your house. That is a bad idea.
This is not your normal dip dying process. What I did was more like "drip" dying. I dripped and wrung out and swirled and splattered the dyes however the heck I found fit. It was sort of hard to be reserved. Of course, the messier I got, the better the fabric looked. Who knew?

Once I was finished, I let the fabric lay in the sun until it was completely dry. Completely.
I actually folded them up and waited a few days to complete the next step. Like I said, I'm good at putting things off.
But at some point in time, you have to wash the fabric to get the residual dye out of it. Now, being that I had several different color combos and some puddles of serious color on this fabric, I hand washed each pattern separate. In my kitchen sink. In luke warm water, folks. And then rinsed it in cold water until the water ran clear.

Ta-da! Pretty watercolor fabrics!
I wrung these babies out and threw them all in my washing machine. Turned the dial to "Rinse" and let the machine do the last step. Final rinse and spin. Then to the dryer.

It was the most fun I have had in a long time. I felt like an Arthur Morgan kid. (you would get that if you lived around here) Maybe I shouldn't mention that I was in a bikini and barefoot on my back porch, throwing fabric dye around. ;) But it all turned out beautifully and I have been cutting out bag patterns today. I'm excited to see how they look all sewn up.

This would be a fun project to do with older kids. Its very messy and you have to be careful, so its not really little kid friendly. Cotton fabrics work best. Always pre-wash; it helps the fibers take the color. Have fun with the painting process. I can't wait to do it again and try some different things. I really do recommend hand washing the fabrics before tossing them into the washer. Be aware that the colors are not going to be exactly what you expect. The concentrated dye and the random application can yield darker or lighter hues depending on the colors you choose. If anyone decides to try this, let me know. I would love to see what you come up with!


lilabraga said...

I remember doing it when just a teenager... Great fun and lovely the post today!

Dawn said...

Ooooh so pretty! I used to do this...YEARS ago. Back when I knew how to have fun. Thanks for the reminder....I just may have to pull out my bikini, kick off my shoes, and give it a try:)))

Little Sweet Pie said...

Oh, I used to do that @ school before, it is fun!