Wednesday 12 March 2014

WIP - Fabric Dyes!

Last September, when I joined the Irish Patchwork Society, the Mid-Western branch announced they would be running a fabric dyeing workshop in the Spring. There were limited places and it filled up really quickly (sob!). Then 2 weeks ago a place opened up and I sent my text super fast when I saw the message offering a place. I was lucky and got to be a part of the workshop given by Paula Rafferty last Saturday. It was tons of fun!

We used Procion dyes and fabric presoaked in a Soda Ash fixative. They dyes work with plant based fabrics like cotton really well and react with the fibres in the material to develop colour inside the fibres rather than just on the surface. This is supposed to give the best light fastness and wash fastness.

The powdered dyes were mixed up for us in 3 colours. We had a yellow, red and blue base of primary colours from which to mix other colours. We had a warm and cool yellow (golden & lemon), blue (ultramarine & turquoise) and a magenta colour to work with. I worked with the cool colours and got beautiful jewel toned colours.

The dye mix was measured and poured into plastic bags (we had variations of yellow/red, blue/red etc. to make all the rainbow colours.).  The pre-soaked fabric was put in the bag and squished and squeezed in the bag to absorb the dye.  This part was great fun!  We had 2 pieces of fabric for every colour and we got a recipe booklet and how to instructions for mixing the colours to take away for later.

We experimented with the leftover dye on some of the scraps we brought with us and some milk cartons, pouring the dye in at stages and layering up the fabric.

Paula's new rescue cat kept us company for most of the day. It was a beautiful day for a change in Limerick and she enjoyed the warmth as much as we did. Jessie the dog popped in and out but didn't stay for long. We had more practical help from Paula's daughter, who helped with separating the fabric for us to keep us from contaminating things with the dyes!  It does help to work in twos to keep one pair of hands dye free!

The hard work was the day after with the rinsing.  It takes a bit of time!

 But don't the colours look gorgeous?

There are 36 squares in total measuring just over 10" in all colours of the rainbow!

 Amazing what you can get from just 3 small scoops of dye!

Even the experimental scraps from the milk carton turned out really well.  I keep singing Bob Marley "We're Jammin'" for some reason washing these guys out!

But I'm still rinsing - yes 4 days later, on the final batch!

So what am I going to do with all of this wonderful colour?  I think I'm going to make a colour wheel.  We've just finished Stitched in Color's  class, Color Intensive, and I learned a lot from her Colour wheel quilt, so I'm going to try and use what I learned and make my own.  I'm interested in what these colours would look like against a black background as well as a white and a grey.

If you want to try for yourself the dyes are available online in Ireland at Cork Art Supplies and in the US at Dharma Trading. I found this nice blog post explaining the process with the milk cartons using red plastic cups. It was a really fun day and Paula looked after us so well. Thank you Paula and thank you ladies for a great workshop!  I can't wait to finish drying these off and getting them ready for the rotary cutter!

Linking up to
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Sew Fresh Quilts


  1. Dying fabric is such fun. Have fun using all those fabulously rich-coloured fabrics.
    I did a two-day workshop last summer but have't sewn anything using the fabrics yet. Instead of your milk cartons we used sawn off plastic Coke bottles and I dyed a 1.5 x 0.3m piece of muslin which I have worn as a scarf. Not much extra sewing involved!

  2. You lucky girl! That workshop does indeed look as though it was a lot of fun! And the results... Incredible! Can't wait to see your color wheel quilt in progress!

  3. Dyeing fabric is so much fun! I love doing it. Its amazing the colors you come out with!

  4. gorgeous colors! What fun!

  5. Such beautiful dyed fabric!!! great job! Looks like you had a wonderful time! First time visiting your blog from Lets Be Social. Nice looking blog!

  6. sounds like a great class and you learned a lot!! i think a color wheel sounds like a perfect fit for this beautiful fabric and you are sure to be a pro after Rachel's class!!! have fun!

  7. That looks like a great fun. I m so jealous of you!!

  8. Those fabrics look like they're glowing! So pretty! And what a fun process.

  9. How wonderful! Can't wait to see what you do with these. PS Her cat is a spitting image of my mum's rescue cat ... they say everyone has a double somewhere in the world - lol :)

  10. Looks great! Love the colors, very fresh looking! Great kitty photo too!

  11. Looks like a messy good time. I love how saturated those colors turned out. nice!


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