Archive for the ‘Dyeing’ Category

More Snow Dyeing

February 25, 2009

Oh WOW, am I ever thrilled with the last 2 days of snow dyeing. The colors are amazing and the crystalized designs are wonderful.

The snow I’m using is very powdery, and I’m not drying the fabric after it has been soaked in soda ash. I simply squeeze it out, and scrunch it on the plastic basket. It seems everyone else is drying the fabric before they put the snow on top, so I thought it was important to let you all know I’m not doing that.

The following pictures are Kona’s cotton/bamboo fabric from my website:



I used only 2 colors – black and rose. The black really broke down into lots of blues and greens, and turned the rose various values of mauve.

These are Kona’s Pfd bleached white 100% cotton fabric:




Wanting more color, I mixed up some yellow dye concentrate this time. I used 2 colors on the right side – yellow and rose, and 3 colors on the left side – black, yellow and rose. I absolutely adore this color combination.

And the last one is a Kona black and white print:


I used the same 3 colors and again, I absolutely adore how these colors blended. My husband is so sick of hearing me say, “Can you believe this? Aren’t these colors gorgeous?” LOL 

More pearl cotton was dyed along with some cotton lace trim – for my crazy quilt projects.  One of the ties on my pearl cotton skein came apart, and it’s going to take me quite awhile to salvedge this skein.  Lots of patience, and some Pepperidge Farm Extra Cheddar Gold fish will be needed to get the job done.  Wish me luck!!!



Snow Dyeing

February 21, 2009

We had a lovely gentle snowfall the past couple of days, and I succumbed to the allure of snow dyeing.  It’s been a topic on the dyer’s list and I didn’t think I’d like dyeing fabric this way.  Was I ever wrong. 

It’s really easy, you get wonderful colors, and surprise, surprise, the excess dye rinses out quickly and easily.  This is great for the ecosystem. 

I buy a lot of my dyes from ProChem – as I’m on the east coast and shipping is less expensive for me.  I used grape 801, navy 412, and created a nice blue green color by using equal parts of 402 mixing blue with 108 sun yellow.  The dye concentrate was 6% , and used I about 150 ml of concentrate on each batch. 

A  little plastic drawer with grid like openings in the bottom came in very handy.  It was placed upside down in a larger plastic container to catch the melted snow/dye solution:


The fabric was scoured in Synthrapol and pretreated with soda ash, then scrunched on top of the basket.  I tried to get a good 3″ of snow on top, but it was so light and fluffy, it kept on falling down the sides of the container. 

The first batch was a linen/rayon blend I purchased at JoAnns – one of their 70% off bargains I purchased last summer – and I placed a scrunched layer of cheesecloth on top:


The linen/rayon blend is a hefty material, but I still got some nice crystalized sections:


And you can see the plastic basket indentions in this photo:


The second batch was a couple of yards of Osnaburg:

I used way too much dye on this.  I should have left more white areas.  It looks good to me, but this fabric yielded very little crystalized sections – I think because of not leaving enough white on the snow surface, and because of the fabric properties – nubby surface and thicker thread than quilting cottons.

I swear, I see a green rose in this piece.  There is a light area behind it, but am I the only one who “sees” that green rose?

I also dyed some Perle cotton thread for my crazy quilt embroidery and used old men’s handkerchiefs to wipe up as I was dyeing everything.  It saves on using a lot of paper towels, and I end up with some gorgeous hand dyed handkerchiefs. 

I have company coming for supper tonight, but plan on trying one more batch tomorrow – this time with a fine cotton.  I think I’ll get very different results, and I’ll use some different colors too. 


Fabric Postcard for Dye Hard Swap

December 23, 2008

My oh my, I knew it snowed a lot last weekend, but listening to the weather forecast last night I learned we received 20.5″ of the fluffy, white variety.  That’s a lot of snow – even if it was fluffy.  It’s no wonder the second fabric postcard made for the January 2009 Dye Hard painted bondaweb swap is a snow scene:

This was so much fun to make.  After auditioning several sky fabrics, a painted blue fabric I made a couple of years ago, worked the best behind the navy painted Fine Fuse.  A big silver star was place in the center, then some smaller silver metallic stars were scattered across the card.   I wanted this to really shine so added some silver rhinestones also to create a lovely night sky.

The snow was made out of cotton quilt batting and stitched in place with nylon thread.    I folded a 1/4″ seam around the edges, then folded that over again with some cardstock for a backing.  The fabric was kept it in place by using paper clips, and nylon thread was used in the bobbin case and needle for a nearly invisible sewing line. 

It wasn’t quite right though.  The snow was too flat.  It took a couple of days before I got a light bulb moment.  Jones Tones White Iris paint to the rescue.  It has lots of glitter in it and I applied it with a Q-tip – dabbing a bit here, a bit there.  Now both the snow and the sky sparkle.  Perfect!!!


Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008 Concluded

August 3, 2008

Today I have the results from the 3rd attempt to match a color from a photograph. 

The 100% cotton at the top is the same cotton I used in the 2nd attempt.  The big difference was in batching the 2nd attempt for 4 or 5 hours vs batching this 3rd attempt for 48 hours.  I got a closer match with the 2nd attempt for this cotton – however – look at the marked difference in the other fabrics.  They are appreciably darker.

Everything was dyed at 3% DOS.  I weighed each piece of fabric and calculated the water and dye concentrate amounts for each piece, and they were dyed in separate containers.  The fabric was placed into their containers dry.  All were batched for the same amount of time, rinsed, washed, boiled and ironed the same, but what a difference in color.

The upper right corner of the cotton/bamboo blend fabric is almost a perfect match.  I’m thrilled. 

The next fabric swatch 60% linen and 40% cotton is pretty close also.

The other fabrics are not great matches, but that’s all right.  I learned a lot, plus I got to try a lot of new fabrics.

My conclusions?

It’s a lot of work trying to match colors from a photograph.  It can be done though, and I actually enjoyed the attempts.  I met a lot of nice people, discovered a lot of new color analysis websites, and my high school algebra came in very handy.  😉

Basically, I selected a color and used the dropper in my paint program to isolate it.  That gave me the Hex number. 

Next, I got the cyan, magenta and yellow percentages for the color from

From there,  I went to Oulu’s dye applet  and selected my blue, red and yellow dyes using the percentages from the forret website.

This is where a little dye experience comes in handy.  The blues are a bit different from each other.  So are the 2 reds, and the yellows.   It takes a little practice to know which ones will combine to create the color you’ve selected.

Additionally, I found when I thought I had a perfect match – eyeballing it – I really didn’t.  I used the print screen capture to copy the dye applet color into my paint program.  Then I used the dropper to compare the R,G,B values.  They were always off.  It took a bit of tweaking, but evenutally I changed the dye applet percentages just right to be very close match.

From there, I mixed the dye powders needed to creat the color all the same – 1 gram of dye powder to 100 ml of water.  This made it very easy to do the math.  If I needed 51% of turquoise, 30% of fuchsia, and 19% golden yellow, it was easy to measure 51 ml of the turquoise dye concentrate, 30 ml of fuchsia, and 19 ml of golden yellow into another container.   Voila!!!  There was the combination I’d need to dye my fabric. 

The amount of this mixed dye concentrate varied by fabric weight, but it was easy to measure the correct amount for each fabric from my customized dye concentrate container.

Is this for the faint of heart?  No, but it’s doable.  It does help to have some experience with dyeing.  I use scales and measure all my dye powder by weight.  It gives consistent results and satisfies the mad scientist that is hiding in a remote section of my psyche.  😉

By the way, I opened an account with Robert Kaufman just so I could try dyeing all these wonderful fabrics.  Everything was PFD, and I used 100% cotton for the first one, Panda for the second, Handkerchief Linen, then Essex, Voile, and Radiance.  PFD fabric is great – no pre scouring required and gorgeous results.

Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008 Update

August 1, 2008

Yippee!!! My water system is fixed.  We didn’t need a new part after all.  The repairman said we had a power surge, and the regenerating switch on the charcoal filter wouldn’t turn off.  It just had to be reset and all is well with the water system now.  Oh happy days!!!

To celebrate, I mixed up the exact same dyes from the last experiment and am repeating the dye run – this time letting the fabric batch for 48 hours.  Hopefully, this will allow the turquoise dye to properly bond with the fabric.

I’m dyeing all sorts of new fabrics this time also.  My Robert Kaufman order arrived – all the fabric is listed on my business website – and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  Plus I included a container of the same cotton I used in the last dye run.  It will be interesting to see if the longer batch time will make a difference in the final color.

Waiting for Sunday’s rinse, wash and boiling session is going to be hard.  


Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008

July 31, 2008

No, I haven’t fallen off the earth, but I have been stopped dead in the water – literally.  My well water system is on the blink, and I can only use my water for toilet flushing and hand washing.  How frustrating is that?  PLENTY!!!

In the meantime, I’m looking at more colors and figuring out the math equations to try and reproduce some of them.  I dearly hope the repair to the system won’t take weeks.  The repairman had to call the factory to find out what part we “might” need to fix the problem.

Leigh asked a question on how I dyed the thread.  I wind the thread into hanks. tie them in 2 spots, and dip them into the dye concentrate.  When I dye bigger skeins, I tie them in 4 spots.  These thread skeins were wound around a 12″ wooden ruller, so were pretty small.

Hopefully, my water system will be repaired soon and I’ll be back dyeing soon.  I have some luscious new pfd fabric that arrived and can’t wait to see how it will dye.

Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008 – Added Bonus

July 21, 2008

I forgot to mention that I’ve also been dyeing some DMC 12 wt cotton thread along with the silk and cotton fabric.

That first picture was put into the same container as the silk and cotton fabric.  I have yet a third color combination with these threads.   And they don’t remotely match the cotton fabric that was in the same container either.  So much for companion dyeing.

Discouraged, but not defeated, of trying to match colors I decided to play with the left over dye concentrate.  This had been mixed for 3 days and I wasn’t holding out any hope it would dye cotton very well even though the AC has been on in my house, so it’s been a steady 75.  Was I ever thrilled with this next group of colors:

While I’m still going to try and reproduce colors from photographs, it’s fun to just throw stuff in a dye container willy nilly.  I love these colors will enjoy using them in future projects.

Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008 Second Set of Swatches

July 18, 2008

These are the results from the second dye day.  The first is a picture comparing the silk fabric using different fixatives:

The silk set with soda ash was dyed in a container with some cotton fabric and embroidery thread.  The silk set with citric acid was dyed all by itself.  There isn’t a huge difference and the color is not remotely the same as the cotton fabric.

This makes me think that the silk absorbs whatever dye hits quickest, and absorbs it deeply.  All the available molecules that can take color are filled with the quickest hitting dye, so there isn’t any more room for the slow moving dye molecules to attach to the fiber.  I’m no chemist, but this makes sense to me.

And here is a picture of the 100% bleached white Robert Kaufman PFD fabric.


These colors are a bit different from the Roclon muslin and I think portions of some of them are closer to matching the color in the photo.   I’m not trying to get a solid piece of fabric dyed to match the photo.  I am trying to get a piece of fabric that has the photograph’s color running through it.

I am weighing my fabric, using scales to accurately measure my dye powder, syringes and pipettes to accurately measure the dye concentrate, using the low water immersion dye process, and I boil all fabric after it has been rinsed and washed.  It’s as colorfast as it’s going to get.  

So, step 2 is done and I’m not quite there yet.  It’s back to the dye studio for me.

Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008 First Swatches

July 17, 2008

I couldn’t stop thinking about trying to match the color from a photograph with Procion MX dyes.  Not wanting to wait for my dye order from Dharma to arrive, I selected a new color – one that would require dyes I already own.  Here is the result:

It’s not a stellar success, but I learned quite a bit. 

1 – It shocked the bejeebers out of me that the 100% silk and 100% cotton muslin were such totally different colors.  They were in the same container.  I thought they’d be the same color.  Soda ash was used to set the dye, and I prefer using citric acid when I dye silk, so that will be tested tomorrow.  I’ll mix the exact same dye proportions and see if using citric acid to set the dye will yield different results.

2 – The 3 separate dyes were mixed at 1% strength – so the math wouldn’t be hard – and I used ProChem’s Turquoise MX-G, Fuchsia MX-8B, and Sun Yellow MX-8G.  The fuchsia hit with lightening speed.  The other colors didn’t have a prayer of keeping up – especially the nortoriously slow to move turquoise. 

In an attempt to control that issue, the bottom 2 samples were dyed at the exact same DOS and dye concentrate proportions as the 2 samples above them, but the bottom 2 were dyed in a 3 step process.  First they were dyed in the yellow – batched, rinsed and washed, then dyed with the red – batched, rinsed and washed, and finally dyed with the turquoise – batched all day vs the one hour for the other 2 colors, rinsed and washed.

I really like the way the colors blend when you dye with one color at a time.  Yes, it takes a lot longer, but to my eye, the bottom 2 swatches are drop dead gorgeous.  I wish you could see the complete swatches up close and personal.  They really are gorgeous.

3 – The colors separated even though the dye concentrate was moved around every 15 minutes.  If you want even color, you have the go the route Carol Soderlund does – stir, stir, stir that liquid, and keep stirring it till the batching is complete.  It really only takes about 10-15 minutes for the majority of the dye to attach to the cloth – except for that pesky turquoise.

4 – There was some DMC Cotton Perle 12 wt embroidery thread in each of the containers also, and they turned out entirely different colors from the fabrics.  As soon as they are spooled up, I’ll take a photo and put that on the blog too. 

After 10 years of dyeing fabric and yarn, the surprises are still coming.  It will be exciting to see if today’s colors will turn out differently.  Instead of using the Roclon muslin, I switched to Robert Kaufman’s Bleached PFD white fabric.  Starting out with a white fabric base will hopefully match the color in the photograph better.

Dyeing Experiment for the Summer of 2008 – and it’s not Shibori

July 12, 2008

This whole experiment started with a class I’m taking on Joggles.  I’m having a terrible time locating the colors I want to use for embroidering a crazy quilt block, and decided to dye some embroidery threads and silk ribbon. 

I went to my Paint Shop Pro program and selected 3 of the predominate colors on my block, and got the hex numbers for them.  Then on to the Color Wizard site to get the complimentary and split complimentary colors.  Armed with the technical color info, I wondered how was I going to mix my Procion fiber reactive dyes to duplicate the luscious colors on my computer screen?

Google to the rescue.  I did a search on the subject and came across Leigh’s Fiber Journal blog  She is attempting to try and duplicate colors from a photo.  Ah, a kindred spirit. 

I went to the website she mentioned  to get the CMY numbers for my colors.  For those of you who don’t know what CMY stands for, it is C for cyan, M for magenta, and Y for yellow.    Okay, now I have the percentage of each color needed.  Onto Oulu’s dye applet 

This next step takes the most time.  There are a lot of pure Procion MX colors and they combine very differently.  I needed to find the correct blue (cyan), red (magenta) and yellow for the colors I want to dye.  

I decided to dye a hue variation of one of the predominate colors.  If this works, then I’ll move onto to creating a full range for the other 2 colors. 

This is a picture of the hue variation for the first color:

I prefer using pure MX colors and after a couple of hours – yes, this does take time – I found the MX colors that would combine to create the shades I want – on the computer screen.  Who knows if it will work in real life?  I don’t have the yellow I need, so will have to wait till I can get an order shipped from Dharma Trading to do the actual dyeing.  Since I’m on the opposite coast, it might take a while before I can get some threads dyed.  ProChemical doesn’t sell this pure color, or I’d stick with ordering from the same side of the country I reside.

In the meantime, I can share some tips I discovered as I was working through this process so you can all try this for yourself.

Tip 1 – The CMY percentage numbers are a starting point.  I found I had to adjust by eye at the applet, and for one of the colors, I had to add a touch of black.  Touches of brown/grey would probably be required for some other colors.

Tip 2 – When you think you have a good match, get up from your chair and walk across the room.  Have the color you’re trying to copy on the screen, along with the shade the applet shows.  Over 50% of the time, I had to come back and tweak the percentages. 

Tip 3 – On the computer screen, I was really surprised how a tenth of a percentage point changed the color.  Subtle color shifts showed up on my computer screen, but hey didn’t on my husband’s lap top.  Something tells me, computer screen resolutions will be a big factor in attaining the correct combination.

Tip 4 – Get up and take a break every hour.  I was working on this last night, and was starting to make mistakes.  I actually emailed the dyers list with a question that was unbelievably dumb.  I knew the answer, but I was tired and didn’t read the text line properly.  Our eyes need a break, and so does our mind. 

I can not wait for my order to arrive so I can test this process.  Something tells me, I’ll pick another color, get the hue variations and see if I can try this out with dyes I already own.  I’ll post the results Monday or Tuesday if I do.