The Free Motion Quilting Project: Dyeing Experiment Gone Overboard

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dyeing Experiment Gone Overboard

I really wish I could try a new technique: quilting new designs, making a goddess quilt, or dyeing fabric, and NOT turn it into an overwhelming mess, but it seems this is just what I'm good at doing:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This is just 1/3 of the dyeing experiment I've been working on since Thursday.  I started with a set of 14 colors of red, then decided that was simply not enough and added all the colors of orange and yellow I've collected to make 20 colors to start with.

Each color was mixed and dyed a single fat quarter, leaving a good amount of dye left over.  Sooo...

I had to try another experiment!  This time I added 15 ml of black dye to each color and dyed 20 fat eights.  Both fabrics together create quite a range of colors:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Admittedly, not all the colors came out as either red or beautiful.  Orange and black created a nice brown and yellow and black tended to turn dark green. 

And what you see about piled around the sink?  That's yet another experiment!  This time I started with the dye color, plus 15 ml of black, plus 40 ml of water, hopefully creating a diluted version of the last experiment.  All of those colors have now been rinsed and are drying.

Unfortunately, didn't quite calculate how much space was needed for drying this much fabric:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Still, once this set is dry, I will hopefully have found the Perfect Red I've been searching for.  I'm looking for a color that is very dark, but not tending towards either orange or purple / pink, as many reds tend to go.

I figure once I find this red in cotton fabric, then it will be time to duplicate it in wool roving.  Dyeing wool is a slightly different experience, as it requires a crock pot and citric acid and a lot more time.

So here's a sum up of what I've learned from this weekend's excessive dyeing experiment:

1. Start with 5 colors to play with.  At max, play with 10.
2. Plan ahead on how many experiments will be done and how much dye will need to be mixed so none is wasted.
3. Take time to label the fabric ahead of time.  Had the fabrics been labeled properly, I wouldn't have to bother with drying on the tables, I could just throw it all into the washer and dryer which would have been much more efficient.
4. Keep the scale of the experiments limited to two days.  Any more, and you risk irritating everyone in the house.
5. Be aware that dyeing fabric is extremely addictive!

Whew!  I certainly didn't expect dyeing to be so labor-intensive.  I'm off to veg on the couch to hand stitch binding and figure out what I'm going to do with all this dyed fabric.

Let's go quilt,

Leah

29 comments:

  1. Oh but it is all so pretty (especially all together!). I am curious which red you think is the perfect red.

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  2. Those fabrics are beautiful Leah! Did you say what dyes you used and i missed on another post. And the whole mordant thing? Always left me confused. How did it work for you. What did you use, and from where did you order. Would so love to try it out. My daughter dyes alpaca but i know it is different dyes right?

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  3. I would love for you to write a tutorial on your dying experience. This is one thing I really want to try. What fabric did you use, what brand of dye and how did you get it so organized? Your fabrics are beautiful. Can't wait to see how you incorporate them into a quilt design.

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  4. Leah, here's an idea what to do with all that dyed fabric...SELL IT! It looks really good to me. You wouldn't AT ALL have to set up constant production, but just list your dyed pieces for sale in your online store whenever the dyeing mood has struck and you've wound up with some extra pieces. Kind of like Mickey Lawler with her Skydyes--when the piece is sold, it's just no longer available. Just a once-in-a-while thing, which really makes it kind of special, I think.

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  5. That fabric is so gorgeous!!! No basement or extra room in our house so not even going to touch that!!! My neighbor is heavy into it (pro rug hooker, does all her own wool!) so I know how addictive it is!!! If you take a look at my post you will see how "unproductive" I am!!! Uber hugs!...http://treadlemusic.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/some-days/

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  6. If you haven't seen it you might want to check out the Fabric Dyer's Dictionary by Linda Johansen? It has dye formulas for over 900 colors.

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  7. Oh Leah all those colors are making my mouth water. What a great project. I am very interested in dying my own fabric... you have inspired me to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  8. You are a brave soul delving into dye experimentation.

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  9. Your colors are beautiful. That array in the first post picture would make a beautiful quilt with flowers cut out and appliqued. To me it looks like a wonderful flower garden just waiting to bloom on a quilt.
    Love the dark greens exspecially. What wonderful stems and leaves they would make.
    I just purchased an older pattern from BBD called Wild Pomegranate that would be stunning in your fabrics.

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  10. And (if I may propose some helpful tips):
    Take bigger pieces of fabric to use as much of the colour as possible.
    take the pieces you do not like and dye them again, its amazing how colours change, and if you take the same colour for different fabrics, they seem to belong together after dying.

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  11. I would love to give it a go. I think it must be fun to make your own colours and to use them in a quilt. All your OWN...

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  12. Ah but it is fun, isn't it
    Last night I dyed 200g of silk yarn - it's now out drying
    There is so much satisfaction in creating something from fabric or fibre you have dyed

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  13. Linda has a great idea!!! When my daughter dyes yarn she might keep track of dye amounts but they dont come out the same. she adverts one of a kind. She never has trouble selling it. I think that is special too!!!

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  14. I've been dying fabric to find the perfect colors, it is addicting and dangerous. You forgot the part about keep bleach close before you dye everything around you, my sink was such a pretty blue after my first experiments. LOL.

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  15. It is so funny to me that one of my favorite bloggers is starting to do some heavy dye experimentation at the same time as me! Our approaches are a little different, though, because I am not necessarily looking for any specific color. In fact, the more unexpected my results the better. Still, seeing your gorgeous display of gradations makes me want to try something a bit more systematic one of these days!

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  16. Love your kitchen cabinets by the way! I'm a green-girl!!

    --Christa

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  17. Leah: I've been dyeing wool for many, many years and want to share these words of caution with you and your readers...dyeing in your kitchen can be dangerous, unless your dyes are already in solution and then you still need to be very careful with them. Also it's important that everyone remember never to use equipment that you plan to use again for food. I may be repeating things you've already said, and if so, forgive me!

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  18. I really want to try dyeing fabric- but I am reluctant to get the tools.

    I have about 90 colors of acid dyes from when I used to dye wool yarn. I'd have to start all over if I dyed cotton! It's very confusing to find out what is best.

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  19. You make me laugh because that's the kind of thing I usually do. I start with this great idea and then it just grows until it's a lot bigger than I originally anticipated. Glad to know I have company :)

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  20. what kind of fabric did you use? I was thinking of trying and was going to use bleached muslin.

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  21. First to Danielle - muslin will give you very toned down colors, not bright at all. Not a bad thing but know what will happen with different fabric.
    Leah, It is a myth that dye will not keep. I keep quart bottles of concentrated dye mixture ready for a quick dye job so I don't have to mix each time. Even dye that froze one year still works. As for powder I have dye dated from the 90's that I still use. Asumming we are talking about procion dyes.

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  22. Welcome to the dark side, Leah! My fabric dyeing instructor said that dyeing could possibly take over our lives. Twenty-five yards later, I suspected I was an addict. My favorite reference book is The Fabric Dyer's Dictionary, and it's so much fun to see how the same color can change when you use sateen vs pimtex. And overdyeing is a blast! You're so creative, you will figure out a zillion ways to use your fabrics. They are absolutely gorgeous. ..Warning. If you are on septic, be careful. It's better to drain your salt/chemicals by hand out in the yard if you're doing a lot of dyeing. And be SUPER careful using the powders around your food prep area. Some of these products are highly toxic.

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  23. Hi,
    Interesting colors... to get a dark red, have you tried to use red + darkbrown ?

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  24. I agree, Janet. Leah's explanation gave me a chuckle. I over dyed turquoise hand spun silk in (I think pretty) hand painted style colors yesterday. Had a little dye left over, so you guessed it, I'm over dying some silk roving today. Not really sure if I like the result of today's adventure as much as yesterday's. Looks like there is a little dye remaining. Going to hunt down some fresh roving to use up and stop this silly dying run.... I hope

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  25. Regarding your comment: "Plan ahead on how many experiments will be done and how much dye will need to be mixed so none is wasted."

    I have been dyeing for 4 years, and after taking the online class that I just finished (Dyeing 101 at candiedfabrics.com)...I found I only need to use 1/3 of the dye powder that I was using. And that was after reading many books. The amt of 5g (approx 1 tsp) per 240 ml (approx 1 cup) gives me a great 4% DOS. She has great recipes and ideas for tints, shades and tones.

    Also, I love your site. Are you going to have/keep the You Tube links up to go with the book? It is so nice to have a "visual" to watch.

    As a former person who worked in book publishing, I can agree that those photos will add a lot of cost. Personally, I would love to see a "square" of the design, a start point, arrows, end point etc. drawn in black and white. IMHO, your You Tube links offer so much more explanation than you could "describe" in words. Maybe there is a way to have a password protected area, or have the printer add a sticker with sequential number to the book IBC (inside back cover). That would HAVE to be more economical than all those photos.

    Anyway, everything you do is so lovely and inspiring..please don't take those You Tube links down. I am sure they will be used. Good luck.

    ps If you are interested in joining a "private" MX Dyers Yahoo group, let me know. We are all MX dyes, all the time. Very fun stuff.

    Johanna in Menomonee Falls, WI
    wisfritz4@yahoo.com

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  26. HOLA, TE ESCRIBO DESDE CANARIAS, ESPAÑA, ME ENCANTA TEÑIR Y ME GUSTARIA SABER QUE TIPO DE TINTES UTILIZAS Y LA MARCA, SI NO TE IMPORTA.

    Y POR CIERTO SOY FAN TUYA. HACES MARAVILLAS OJALA YO LLEGUE A TRABAJAR COMO TU.
    TENGO UN BLOG, AUNQUE SINCERAMENTE TENGO POCO TIEMPO YA QUE COMPAGINO MI TRABAJO CON EL QUILTING. PERO ME GUSTARIA SI TIENES TIEMPO LO VISITASES.
    http://elblogdenenamartin.blogspot.com.es/
    ESTE ES EL ENLACE.

    SALUDOS DESDE CANARIAS.

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  27. Leah, I should have added: refrigerating your dye concentrates is a great thing. I have used concentrates a month or two later with little color change. Also, my dye powders are kept in the cool dark basement. I have run comparison tests with brand new powder. Some of my powders going on 10 years show little to no color change.

    Again, cool and dark for dye powder is the key. And put the mixed concentrate in fridge to keep for next time. Bring to room temp - or ideally 85 to 90 degrees F before using. I set the dye concentrate in a larger container with hot water and use a digital thermometer to check temp. Good luck and don't throw out that dye. :0)
    Johanna in Wi

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  28. Translation - in context - from: "Maria Martin" post:

    HELLO, I WRITE YOU FROM THE CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN, AND I AM DYEING TO KNOW WHAT TYPE OF DYE AND TRADEMARK (YOU) USE IT, IF YOU CARE (TO SHARE).

    AND BY THE WAY AM A FAN OF YOURS. HOPEFULLY I GET TO WORK LIKE YOU.
    I HAVE A BLOG, BUT HONESTLY I HAVE LITTLE TIME BECAUSE I combine my WORK WITH QUILTING. BUT I WOULD LIKE IT IF YOU HAVE TIME, that you visit:
    http://elblogdenenamartin.blogspot.com.es/
    THIS IS THE LINK.

    GREETINGS FROM CANARY Islands.

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  29. yes, I too think I missed that segment of yours where you tell how to dye. You have inspired me, I have a lot of white fabric and I am going to try dying it. Thanks Leah

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