Tag Archives | dyes

Dyeing days

Fabric in dyepots!

dyeing fabric in jamjars

I started off doing some dyeing in plastic bags. I dyed one piece in each to start with, all solids, mostly greens, blues and greys. Then after about an hour, I added another piece to each, to get a paler shade. I did this again half an hour later. I may even have tucked a fourth one in before the dye was totally exhausted!

Here they are in the plastic bags sitting in the cat litter tray:

lots of plastic bags in a cat litter tray!

When I had done that, I used up the rest of the made up dye liquid by space dyeing some previously dyed fabric in a cat litter tray (jolly useful, they are!). I threw the rayon thread in at the last minute – rayon seems to take the procion dyes very readily and it was fun to see it creeping along the fibres! I put some underneath the fabric too, to soak up the residue.

space dyeing fabric in a cat litter tray

I also tucked fabric into jamjars and poured dye liquid over it, and some more into old margarine tubs. I would have put the top picture here but I thought the plastic bags picture was a bit boring to start this post with! As you can see, I trailed some yarn in and out of all the jamjars and it made for an interestingly multicoloured piece. I dyed an immense amount of fabric this time. I don’t know exactly how much but it was two washing machine loads.

Here is the first load drying on the washing line:

green, black and blue fabric on washing line

And the second one… I was exhausted!

multicoloured washing line!

Close up…

more fabric on line

Here it is, all ironed, folded and sorted into colours and values. Phew!

circle of folded dyed fabric

We have greens, blues, greys and blacks…. I was pleased, actually, at getting a couple of quite dark black fabrics. I want to try discharging with these to see what colours they discharge to. I mixed a couple of different black dye powders together to get this – one with a bluey tint to it, one with a greeny one.

green fabrics

We have reds and purples…

reds and purple fabrics

And we have oranges and browns… some of these were the overdyed space dyed ones.

orange and brown fabrics and one yellow

This was the most dramatic overdyed fabric. It started off being turquoise, and I had so much of it I decided to use it. It went into a big margarine tub in a sort of ‘parfait dyeing’ way, with black at the bottom and then I kept pouring different colours in and adding more fabric and more dye till it was full!

black, blue, pink etc  overdyed fabric

And here is the yarn. It is rayon and some of it has a sort of glittery stuff wrapped round it.

dyed yarn

Phew! Got to find somewhere to put it all now… just blogging it took nearly an hour!!

Solar Dyeing – the results!

I couldn’t wait any longer. I was feeling rotten on Tuesday so I shoved the fabrics into the machine to cheer myself up. The comfrey one spelt disgusting. Truly disgusting.

This is the madder. The most successful one. The deepest red piece is the one I put in first. I added the rest at intervals over the weeks. The purply ones were a light blue silk shirt. This was madder powder so it was obviously very concentrated. The red piece is bigger than a fat quarter. All the fabrics are silk.

red, pink and purple fabrics all dyed from madder

This is the next most successful, which I thought wasn’t going to work at all. The bindweed. It is a pale yellow colour. I think I really needed to boil up the plant material and extract the dye first to get a deeper colour or put a smaller piece of silk in there, but I’m sure it will be useful.

pale yellow fabric on top of the red madder dyed fabric

The comfrey was the most disappointing. I had already left the comfrey leaves rotting in water for a few weeks previously so I thought the dyestuff would have been stronger – the fabric on the left is the blue blouse I started with, and the one on the left is what I ended up with. Very slightly greenish fabric. I think I’ll stick to using it as plant fertilizer.

light green fabric on left and pale blue on right

Quick update on solar dyeing!

Thought I’d put in a quick update on my solar dyeing! It went cooler last week so I brought them into my studio and put them on a table by the window which gets the afternoon sun. I just went up there and felt them and they were pretty warm! The bindweed one looks a bit uninspiring at the moment so I’ll have to see about that, maybe stir it around a bit, but the others look as though they could be interesting. In fact, I put a second piece of silk into the madder one (the red jar) as there seemed to be more red in there, so to get a paler colour, perhaps. I will hold out a bit longer on the patience and keep them going as long as the sun is shining! (We are having a most uncharacteristically British summer this year – the weather is gorgeous, sunny and dry and has been for weeks…).

Results soon, no doubt…


With the hot weather we have been having over the past few weeks, I decided to test out Kimberley’s instructions on solardyeing which she gave us in her regular Prairie Fibers newsletter a few weeks ago. I cheated a bit because I put the fabric and the dyestuff in together with one of these so it may not work but I had the kids at home and didn’t have time to do much, so I thought, better do a bit and experiment and if it doesn’t work it’s better than doing nothing! Now I’ve just got to wait for a week or two or three or however long I can manage to keep my hands off them…

three jars with natural dyestuffs and fabric in liquid sitting in the sun

They’ve all got silk and alum in them. The one on the left has bindweed, of which we have far too much in our garden. The one in the middle has comfrey liquid which has been busy composting in water for a few weeks already, and the right hand one has some powdered madder which I bought at the American Museum in Bath a few years ago so it’s time I used it.

I’ll let you know the results in a few weeks… or less….

A little natural dyeing

I got a yummy book through the post last week – Jill Goodwin’s Dyer’s Manual, full of information about natural dyeing. I didn’t want to fiddle around with mordants and stuff just this week, so I decided to save my teabags and dye a few things with those. I also added some herb teabags I’ve had in my cupboard for too long. Tea has tannin, which is a mordant, so you don’t need another.

One of the things I put in was this silk which had been rather half heartedly rust dyed by wrapping round a washing line pole back in January. It didn’t take very well, probably because it was too cold! The surprise was the black parts, which was the rust reacting with the tea (and maybe partly with the iron saucepan; at least I think it is iron). It is a deeper colour than this in reality. I like the markings on it.

beige/black silk

Here is another piece which I put in after the other stuff came out. Again, this is deeper than the photo, though lighter than the above piece.

beige/black silk

I also did some wool rovings, some silk crepe and some linen. These are closer to the true colours.

wool rovings, silk and linen dyed brown

Yet more dyeing!

This is another piece I did by printing while I had the thickened dyes handy.

printed fabric

I used a spiral stamp to stamp on this, and a natural sponge to sponge, then I drizzled unthickened dye over it to fill in the gaps. The images have more or less got pretty blurry because of the unthickened dye.

Here is the rest of this piece:

printed fabric

And a detail of the spiral stamps where they did come out nice and clearly:

spiral stamped fabric

This fabric was underneath the main fabric to catch the drips, since I had run out of plastic to protect the floor! It was not soda soaked but the dye ‘took’ pretty well, I thought – obviously enough dripped through with the dye (the top fabric was soda-soaked and dried). This piece has been through the washing machine so it is obviously fast. It has a white floral pattern sort of embossed on to it which acts as a resist, which is quite nice.

yet more dyed fabric

More dyeing/printing

Here are a couple of photos of another piece of fabric which I did, mostly to experiment with stuff out of Ann Johnston’s book, Dyeing by Design. Not that I had thought much about the design. I just went into it and played! I think after all this playing I need to sit down and sketch and actually plan a few things. I’ve got a lot of bits of paper lying around but nothing systematic. So most of this just comes from my head at the time.

green, red, blue, yellow printed fabric

    This one I did mainly to use up some dye I had sitting around (I hoped to use more of it, actually, but I’ve still got one jar full in the fridge…).
  • I made a few rubber glove prints with some brown thickened dye which just happened to be on my gloves from something else… I had this white fabric sitting there and it was so tempting to make my mark on it… like a garden full of virgin snow that no one has walked on. The temptation is just too much. After that I had to go and collect Zachary but I came back and filled up the fabric with more colour.
  • I had some yellow dye which I just squirted on from a bottle diagonally first.
  • Then I got a polystyrene pizza base and scored into it with a ballpoint pen making a diagonal grid. I printed this all over with mostly green thickened dye, overlapping and varying the amount of dye that was printing.
  • Then I took a foam roller on which I had stuck circles and squares of that felt stuff you use to stick under chairs to stop them scraping wooden floors, dipped it into red thickened dye and rolled that all over. That was fun.
  • Then (again to try and use up some of the leftover dye) I used a sponge brush to brush unthickened blue/purple dye to make the fairly random rectangle shapes. This was a bit scary because I wasn’t sure how dark it would turn out and whether it would completely cover the marks I’d made, which was why I left some white!

another view

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