Finally, fall is in the air. The New England landscape has turned from green to golden rust, and the blue sky is glistening in the background. Last weekend was perfect for outdoor activities like apple picking and leaf pile jumping (if you haven’t tried it, you really should). But the brilliant hues of nature also inspired me to experiment with a new-to-me technique creating hand-dyed fabric.
And I knew just where to turn for guidance: Beyond the Basics: Dye Your Own Fabric is a new compilation of articles for fiber artists who may know how to dye fabric, but want more ideas for creating more complex cloth.
I set aside one hour – just one – to play with Carol Eaton’s Confetti Dyeing process. After all, the weather was cooperating and I didn’t want to miss a jump in the leaves! (Confession: You have to let the fabric batch for at least two hours after applying the dye . . . total time for my project from start to finish was three hours. About 45 minutes of active dyeing, two hours of jumping in leaves, and 15 minutes rinsing and cleaning up.)
First, I gathered my supplies and chemicals, and then covered my kitchen table with plastic.
Next, I followed Carol’s instructions, soaking fat quarters of PFD fabric in soda ash solution for half an hour. This great kit (affiliate link) has soda ash plus assorted dye colors all in one! After squeezing the liquid from the fabric, I carefully spread the fabric on top of the plastic.
Note: After soaking the fabric, the soda ash can be returned to the container and saved for your next dye session. I store mine in a marked gallon jug in the basement.
Now the fun part – adding color! I chose three colors of dye (I used Jacquard Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes – affiliate link), sprinkling about 1/4 tsp. at a time through a small strainer onto the cloth. One fat quarter was sprinkled and remained flat. The other two were manipulated and sprayed (after being sprinkled) with additional soda ash solution. Two more fat quarters were used for cleanup and blotting.
For a bit of fun, I also dyed three hanks of embroidery floss.
After rinsing, washing and drying, I now have some gorgeous fabric to play with. Want to see the results? Check out this video where editor Kristine Lundblad and I talk about dyeing fabric, the safety issues involved, and reveal my one-hour experiment.
If you want to expand your dyeing repertoire, try a few new techniques, or learn how surface design artists such as Candy Glendening, Susan Purney Mark, Maggie Vanderweit, and Cindy Lohbeck create their own gorgeous hand dyed fabrics, download the new eBook Beyond the Basics: Dye Your Own Fabric. Each technique is presented in a clear and concise manner and accompanied by gorgeous photos and tips for success.