To dye for

A while back, I happened across this inspiring blog post about dyeing fabric.  And then a few months later, I happened across this post on fabric painting from The Fabric Store (you will have to scroll down to past halfway to see their beautiful work). Needless to say, I took it as an omen that I had to have a go!

Sallie from the blog site Sallioh has been wonderful enough to provide some beautifully detailed instructions on how to dye your own fabrics. She sets a high bar with her creative designs on silk, so I am not ashamed to say that I shamelessly copied one of her prints.

Now, I have never done anything like this before, but I was lucky enough to have quite a large piece of ivory/white silk crepe de chine in my stash. I ordered my chemicals and dyes online from Kraftkolour using Sallie’s ingredients list. As I live in Australia, I found it a bit difficult to find Blue Dawn/Synthanpol, so I took a stab in the dark and purchased Dynazol Washof instead.

The chemical list was all a bit foreign to me so I probably made a few mistakes. My thickener was a solid alginate which I probably should have dissolved in the warm chemical water at the start. I found it a bit difficult to stir it into the dye water since it separated into lumps instead of making a nice thick dye that I could paint on my fabric a bit easier. So my finished dye was a bit more runny than I liked, making my designs bleed a little more into the fabric.

One of the best tips on the Sallioh blog was to tape two layers of plastic to the floor so you can roll up your finished fabric in the top layer for storage until the dye is washed out. Not only does this keep your floor spotless, but trying to move or roll the freshly dyed fabric is a recipe for disaster. One end of my fabric was a bit longer than my top layer of plastic and moving this at the end resulted in smudged dye and runs on my fabric. Elsewhere, the dyed fabric just stuck to the underlayer of plastic and I rolled it up carefully, then folded it away to wash out the next day. Perfect! I simply used my surplus of plastic double/single mattress covers you can easily obtain from most storage warehouses for a few dollars. (Don’t ask!)

So this is what I ended up creating. I am pretty pleased with the results and have a bit of an idea on how to use the fabric. But I also think I can do a lot better next time. It has certainly broadened my knowledge on use of textiles. I know I will never look the same at a plain white remnant of fabric when I next go shopping!