My Last Dyeing Session

Like many quilters, I started dyeing my own fabric to expand my choices and develop one-of-a-kind material. Ever since I took a Craftsy course from Jane Dunnewold about seven or eight years ago I’ve tried to have at least one fabric coloring session every year. Lately that has taken the form of sun printing or some other form of fabric painting because it’s a pain to haul out the dyeing supplies and messy to do in my less than optimal dyeing space – my garage.

I’ve done shibori dyeing, thickened dye paste painting, ice dyeing, trash can lid dyeing, gradated dyeing, and some other types I don’t recall. I’ve taken classes and worked on my own or with friends. Many of the techniques aren’t new to me, but this week it seemed like I had forgotten most of what I had learned.

Using too much dye powder – check, overfilling containers – check, confusing strong orange with strong red – check, not wearing a glove on my dominant hand (I had only a right hand glove) and then picking up a dye soaked rag – check. You get the picture.

All told I dyed about three yards and pretty much wiped out my stash of to be dyed cloth. I made a blue-violet eight color gradation with pimatex cotton, overdyed white on white printed fabric, overdyed four stained damask napkins, and dyed a thrift store scarf.

I think the label translates as hand made.

I wish I could say the results were worth it. They’re okay, but show rookie mistakes like putting the blue violet cloth in the same rinsing bucket as the purple cloth. And then there are my hands that look like I’ve been squeezing blueberries.

My personal cost benefit analysis says it’s time to give away the dyeing supplies. All the bending down to reach the low garage water spigots (we have no utility sink) and the emptying of rinse buckets was hard on my back. Clean up was messy. I can get better results with a few mouse clicks and my credit card.

I still have lots of fabric paint and some lovely silk awaiting my brush.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under dyeing

8 responses to “My Last Dyeing Session

  1. I’m with you! I still haven’t used much of the fabric I dyed several years ago, and I prefer the pieces I see for sale at quilt shows to my own efforts. I had fun but now I will support others. 🙂

  2. Jane Herbst

    So the cycle continues! After a few years of watching you and a few others create fabulous hand-dyed fabrics I’m finding the courage to dive in a bit further just as you are getting out of the pool, so to speak. I have definitely been inspired by your creations. I understand your back issues. Fortunately, I have a potting bench built for my height (lack of) requirements in mind, and a hose long enough to reach the bench from the nearest outdoor faucet, so just right for good-weather use with little bending & lifting. Since DH doesn’t use his darkroom as a darkroom as much anymore I might be able to talk him into letting that room be the place to dye/paint/print fabrics and yarns in colder weather. Just promise me you’ll keep creating and blogging!

    • Oh, I’m just changing my pool, so to speak. Convenient access to water is a major plus for dyeing, even more so than for other wet work. Besides, I have a few yards of hand dyed fabric that I have yet to cut into and I don’t want that to end up in the dump once I’m gone, so I don’t need to create more fabric.

  3. We wouldn’t know by the photos anything went wrong! The gradation looks really good. But I hear you regarding moving on from dyeing. I so prefer paint, but for me it’s probably a control thing – though even with paint there can be surprises.

    • Yes, I managed to follow directions for the gradation. I had so much of that dye left over that I am now soaking cotton cord in it in hopes of making it more colorful. I enjoy the serendipitous accidents of dyeing, but the process has become too onerous for me given my dyeing space.

  4. Indeed! I decided years ago that it is less expensive in several ways to just buy hand dyed fabric!

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