Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Project - Dyeing with Shaving Cream

Today I'm beginning a series of Monday posts on creating complex cloth.  If you're not sure what that is, see last Friday's post here.  The first step is to create a background for your fabric.  There are countless ways this can be done - some I've covered so far in this blog are dying and sun printing.  Today we're looking at using shaving cream with dye.  Shaving cream softens the dye and allows you to create swirls, stripes, whatever more easily.

*fabric - I'm using 100% cotton.  If you use a fabric other than rayon, you need a different type of dye than I'm using.
*dye - I'm using Procion fiber reactive dye.  Any dye that works on cotton will do, but I think Procion gives much richer color.
*dye chemicals/mask/gloves - for Procion dyes, you'll need soda ash.
*mixing cups - I use clear plastic cups.
*brushes - foam works well for spreading the shaving cream, foam or larger bristle brushes for the dye.
*shaving cream - if you're like me and don't do well with scents, CVS pharmacy has a good unscented shaving foam that is cheap.
*thin plastic - painters' dropcloth works well
*tape - I use artist tape as it doesn't leave any stickiness on the fabric

If you haven't dyed fabric before, look at this blog post first - I cover the basics.

1.  Soak your fabric in a soda ash solution of 1 cup soda ash to 1 gallon warm water for at least 20 minutes.  Let the fabric dry to at least slightly damp.  While the fabric is soaking, mix up your dyes.  For Procion, I use 2 tsp. dye powder (4 tsp. for colors with a * and 8 tsp. for colors with **) to 1/2 cup water.  Procion mixes more easily if you first add a bit of water and make a paste before adding the rest of the water.  I suggest putting the cups of dye in a pan with sides because no matter how careful you are, this happens -

 and will cause a huge mess.  Even if it touches fabric that hasn't been soda ash treated, it will NOT come out.  I know this from experience.

2.  Lay the fabric on a couple layers of plastic and tape down.  Leave enough plastic so you can fold it over and cover the fabric at the end.

3.  Spray until damp.

4.  Paint on the dye.  You can just randomly place it around or try a plan.

5.  Spray on shaving cream and ...

spread it around.  How you spread it will affect the end result - stripes, swirls, zig zagging, whatever.

6.  You can add more dye and keep spreading the shaving cream around until you decide you're finished.

7.  Fold plastic over the top and press down, making contact with the shaving cream and sealing it.

8.  Set aside and leave for 24 hours.  Rinse well, wash and dry.

Here are three more I worked on.

With this fabric and the next piece, I wanted more muted colors so I mixed 3 tsp. of the mixed dye with another 1/2 cup of water and put a thin layer of shaving cream on the fabric before I put the dye down.

So --- the plan now is to intently gaze at these pieces and decide what fabric technique to use for the next layer!  I'll show you what I decided next Monday.

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [15 Feb 12:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

  2. it is such an informative post thank you!