Creating Everyday Art
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Graduated Fabric Dyeing
There are several different ways to do graduated fabric dyeing (where you dye several pieces of fabric, each one a little darker than the one before) - two of the easiest are to vary the amount of dye in the dye bath or to vary the amount of time the fabric spends in the dye bath. I've had better luck with the first, so when I decided I needed graduated green fabric for a new project, that's what I did.
* white 100% cotton fabric - I used 3 fat quarters
* Procion dye powder (I used Dharma's forest green)
* canning salt (no additives) - 1/2 cup per fat quarter
* soda ash (I use pool pH+) - 1 T per fat quarter
Find containers that are all exactly the same size - I was dyeing three fat quarters so I needed three containers. We use a lot of bottled water - the leftover bottles work great for dyeing in once the tops are cut off. And their tops turned upside down and put back into the bottle bottoms make great funnels! The bottle on the left is set up that way to show how.
The proportions I use are for fat quarters. Put 1/2 gallon water into each container. Dissolve 1/2 cup canning salt into each.
In a small amount of water, add 1/4 tsp. dye powder and stir to dissolve. Add to one of the containers. Repeat with 1/2 tsp. dye for the second container and 1 tsp. dye for the third. I usually go from 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. instead of 3/4 tsp. as I can't see a lot of difference in fabric color with the 3/4 tsp.
For the project I'm planning, I wanted the fabric to look mottled, so I lowered the wet fabric into the container, folding it back and forth and then squishing it down so I couldn't see it below the top of the dye. And I just left it sitting there without stirring for 20 minutes.
If I had wanted a smoothly dyed piece that was all the same color, I would have put the fabric into the container and then kept stirring and moving the fabric around during the 20 minute soak.
After 20 minutes, mix 1T soda ash in a little warm water and stir to dissolve. Add to one of the containers, stir, and let sit for 20 more minutes. Repeat with each of the other containers. Rinse fabric well and then run through the washing machine.
Here are the three fabrics again ...
... and one of them showing the mottling.
Happy Creating! Deborah
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