Techniques for transforming fabric with color

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

The class is now full. We'll have other dyeing classes that folks will be welcome to participate in later on. Anyone is welcome to visit the new 'class thread' and chat along with us!

Here's a thread for discussing the different techniques and methods we use to put color on (or take color out) of fabric.

Dyeing, sunprinting, overdyeing, discharge printing, tea dyeing, batik and all sorts of other fun things will take place here!

Oct. 10,2011
Here are the participants in the dyeing class so far. I'll take names until Wed evening the 12th.

1. Kizmo
2. Quilter5bdsr
3.Qwilter
4.abbisgranma
4.barefooT
5.taters55
6.mittsy
7.denimangle
8.psychw2
9.Seedtosser1
10.housse301

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Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Barb asked about overdyeing. That is where you take something that is one color already...like the print fabric that just never 'goes' with anything....but you just had to have...and dyeing another transparent color over the top of it...it changes the color, but the print still shows through.

Take a plain little floral with a light yellow background...cut it into 4 pieces. Leave one as-is. Dye the other with transparent blue...voila...green fabric. Dye the next piece with camel...now you have a yellow piece, a toast colored piece and a green piece ...all the same print. You need a bright, so you can go for a more intense yellow over the top of the pale, or you can put pink over it for a mango color. Now you have 4 different colors in exactly the same print. Comes in handy when you need a repeated pattern, but the fabric manufacturers don't give you one.

I also overdye old pieces of bluejeans and use the denim in projects, like the Kindle covers. The pink and green are overdyed khaki in this purse I made. The zebras are purchased from an outreach program for African women.

Tea dyeing is similar to overdyeing..the tea...or coffee, mutes the brighter shades.

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(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Where would one go about getting these dyes. All I can remember were the envelopes my Mom had of Cushings dyes. And I remember she only used a white enamel pan to place them in. And what did she use white vinegar for? Wow, Melody, my Mom passed in 1987 and I am so reliving these things. A bit teary-eyed but so happy. Thank you....

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

My Mom is still with me, and at 82, she tells the story of when she came home from school (she went back for her teaching degree in 1970) and found me tie dyeing my bedspread and curtains in her washing machine (I was about 14 at the time) She was NOT impressed. I didn't know till later that the curtains weren't meant to be washed...they fell apart in the washer....

I use Dharma Trading and Pro Dye for all of my dyes. (warning...freeze your credit cards in a block of ice before visiting these links. I am not responsible for the charges incurred!!)

Dharma gets my mail order business and Pro always sets up at the Paducah Quilt Show, so I give them a big chunk then. (I like to support the vendors that come to Paducah)

Pro Chemical: http://www.prochemicalanddye.com/home.php
Dharma: http://www.dharmatrading.com/

Both are excellent vendors and I've never had a minute's trouble out of either.

On cotton fabric, I use fiber-reactive dyes. The fabric is soaked in a soda ash/water solution and I mix the dye in squirt bottles. (my hairdresser saves perm solution bottles for me. They work great...and I have a bunch of the clear mustard/ ketchup bottles that you get at Wal Mart for a buck, for larger amounts. I also have a collection of plastic pipettes with a bulb on the end for little areas.

The tied stuff gets squeezed out and blotted with a towel. I can then drip and drizzle the dye where I want it. (for tied items) For the large things, I use an old cheap water bath canner...works perfect and you can usually pick one up at a yard sale for pennies. This works great for old linen tablecloths too...I buy the ones that have yellow spots for almost nothing and overdye them...spiffs them right up.

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Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Oh...vinegar is a mordant. It helps 'set' the dye.

(thunder)Wildwood, FL(Zone 9a)

very nice Melody, thanks for sharing.....I am with Marion on this one...I will be good...I will be good...always wanted to get into dying but do too many different things as it is....

I have a few thousand dollars in "wood tools" and at least that much in my fabric stash, and a few sewing machines....and much more in "beads" Really don't need another "hobby"

but it sure brings pleasure, to see what you are up to ^_^

was that a jean jacket??? that is fantastic!!!!

(Marion) Havana, FL(Zone 8b)

Oh no!! Melody you didn't! LOL I will be good, I will be good, I am trying to be good, I am trying to be good, have charge card in freezer...............

(thunder)Wildwood, FL(Zone 9a)

holding out my hand to you Marion!!! so we can be good together!!!! and enjoy from afar....

(Marion) Havana, FL(Zone 8b)

Thanks Thunder, I have hold of it. Together we will be strong...so I keep telling myself.

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Oh my!!! They say timing is everything and Norm got word today that the job he applied for is his!!!! After 2 1/3 yrs with only a part time job for a few months.....we are over the moon and now I may color it too!!!!!
Thank you so much for your explanations Melody. I AM going to try this. Most likely, I will wait until Fall when I hope most of my sewing obligations have been caught up. Got a lot going on this summer and it is just rushing by. Is there any good reading material you can recommend? I'm really getting the hook!!!!!

(Marion) Havana, FL(Zone 8b)

Congratulations Barb and Norm. That is wonderful news indeed.

Lowell, IN(Zone 5b)

Quote from melody :
Oh...vinegar is a mordant. It helps 'set' the dye.


I use a cup of white vinegar and one or two color-catch sheets (depending on the size) whenever I wash a quilt for the first time for this very reason as I don't pre-wash fabrics. With the quilts I give away, I include one or two color-catch sheets and washing instructions including the vinegar.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

I will join Thunder and Marion, maybe together we can resist!!! LOL

WOW that is GREAT news Barb! It has be such a relief for your husband and you.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9a)

I started to read the posts but then got so excited about it all I had to chime in... can't wait to check out the links! =)

Orlando, FL(Zone 9a)

Thunder -- you and me, dye date....lol.... well, family dye night.... ha... I want to try this sooooo much! I use to sun dye t-shirts for the kids but that was about it. Never really thought much about dying fabrics but then again I never thought I would be this heavily into sewing, so ha.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

It is cost effective to do this as a group venture. A bit of dye can go a long way.
SHould check w/quilt group & see if others are interested.
Somewhere I have some very good instructions for a beginner. I'll have to dig them up & will gladly email to anyone interested.

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

That would be wonderful Jean and I would very much appreciate it. I'm fascinated by the thought that I may have found another connection with my Mom. She was so good with a needle and I miss her. This makes her feel close....

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Wonderful news Barb!


Let me get a plan here. If you all would like to do a group project, I'll be glad to get everything together and divided up into individual packets. I'm always ordering from Dharma, so what I'll do is get some primaries and a couple of neutrals just for the 'class.'

Since colors can mixed into an unlimited number of combinations, none of the projects would look exactly alike. I know what to order and how to divide it up, so it will be as inexpensive as it can possibly be to try this. All you all will need is your own fabric and a few household supplies that are common to everyone. The PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric is nice, but I've had excellent results with plain old white cotton...just wash it first, no fabric softener.

How does that sound? We can talk about techniques and the process, and I'll give a basic how-to for using fiber-reactive dyes.

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Whoopee!!! That sounds wonderful. Now I need to go find a pot to use. Is there anything special I should look for?

(Marion) Havana, FL(Zone 8b)

Help Thunder and Pat!! Melody is starting to make this really hard to resist...............have a large pot. LOL

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

Ohhhhhhh Thunder... I'm getting WEAK!! Help me... I don't need another hobby. I don't need another addiction (all of my hobbies lead to addiction, I'm just one of THOSE people.... )

Odenton, MD(Zone 7b)

I am not tempted, I am not tempted, I AM NOT TEMPTED, I will not be tempted, I will not be tempted.....

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

I am !!!!!

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

What I'll do is figure up the cost of a 'kit' that I put together. We can decide when to do this and can hold off a bit if you want to, but schedule it for a month, or two months out if that will help everyone get their ducks in a row.

Oh, yeah...we're going to have another Pixel County Fair this year, so start figuring out what you want to enter!

(thunder)Wildwood, FL(Zone 9a)

I .......WILL .............NOT..............be ...........tempted...!!!!! just gonna watch.......

I love fabrics, and I absolutely love tie dye, but I positively do not have any money for any new projects....... :(

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

I'm holding YOUR hand Thunder hoping we can both survive the temptation. Would it be easier to Unwatch this??? YES but I can't bring myself to do that! LOL

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Why don't we try for after the kids go back to school? That way we may be able to work with no interruptions. That is, of course, if all the little ones are in school!!!! I seem to have more ambition when the air is clean and cool than I do this time of year. Besides, so many are on vacations etc. now. Does that work Melody? That also would give time for saving pennies if need be.... Just my thoughts.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Sounds fine to me. We can discuss techniques and you all can ask questions. Shoot for sometime after the end of Sept? (I'm hosting a Roundup on Lake Barkley the weekend of the 15th....anyone want to come?)

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

Darn, I had to work late last nite & totally forgot about dragging out my info/materials to see what I have.
I'll email myself so I can remember, although I won't get home till late tonite either.

(Linda Kay) Del Rio, TX(Zone 9a)

Barb, you just had to come and tell us about this!!!

I would love to learn also!!! Now please tell me where to get the PFD cloth. Guess I can use regular cotton, and I will make sure to pre wash it.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Most large fabric stores...on-line or otherwise, have it. (Hancock's of Paducah does) If you go with plain white cotton, get a good grade. It doesn't have to be the most expensive, but something you'd actually use. I've seen folks start out with cheap muslin and when they get finished, are upset with themselves for not using better stuff. (been there done that) You won't use it in a project because the fabric is inferior...and you have this great design and color.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

I used the white & off-white TOT from JoAnns and had excellent results. SInce I didn't know what to expect, or how it was going to turn out, I didn't wan't to use a lot of a better fabric. I did have a yard of the PDF and got the same results.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

The results will probably be about the same, but the fabric may not be up to the standards you have for your project. Don't dye anything you wouldn't use.

You'll think, "well, if I mess it up, it won't be a big expense" and then you'll do great, and have this thin piece of fabric that doesn't go with the rest of the materials.

If you want to really penny pinch, go to a thrift store and get a 100% cotton men's white shirt (not perma-press) and cut it up. You can usually get one for a buck or two and some of the fabric is really nice. (I got 4 Bill Blass XL men's shirts for 25 cents apiece back in the winter....nice fabric!)

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Now I'll know what to look for and where to go!!!! Goodwill - watch out!!
I like the idea of getting the materials before hand. Is there any amount you would recommend for us to get to try this?
If it's white I suppose it really doesn't matter as I can Always use it.....Should it be perfectly plain or may we use a TOT?

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

Jean mentioned she used TOT. Do you have a picture of how it turns out with a TOT? I'd love to see it.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

I've actually used the fabrics in some of the swap blocks. All of that is now packed & gone. The "pattern" of the TOT dyes darker than the background.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

WOW... that sounds VERY cool.... I will NOT weaken... I do not need another hobby. WHEN did you say you were gonna do this??? LOL

Glenview, IL

I'm in total control here...Read all!

I've only dyed 14? shirts with those kits for kids...would love to learn this technique!

hmmm...yep total control---NOT, sigh I admit. hmmm, hmm trying for composure, lolol will lurk around again

...'course I only need the tiniest bit of arm twisting, er, uhm I mean suggestion...ahahahah

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Twisting your arm Judy!!!! We aren't going to be doing this until late Sept. That gives us time to save some pennies. And gives Melody some time to prepare for all our questions. Melody, would you like us to send some $ towards the dyes etc? I'd be happy to....

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

I have an account with Dharma so it won't be a big deal...and before I order the supplies, everyone will know exactly how much it will cost. I'll try to get something figured this weekend so you'll know how much to plan for.

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