Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Day to Dye

After all the nice sunny Summer days, my friend Vicki and I finally found a day to dye but it was cool and drizzly! Oh well, you do it when you can.

This all started with a casual dinner with Frieda Anderson last year.  She made it sound so easy so I bought her book, Fabric to Dye For and read it cover to cover and it is easy with her method. So Vicki and I got 3 bolts each of Pimatex PFD fabric and cut them up into half yard pieces.

My favorite company, Jacquard Products, provided me with 6 colors of Procion MX dye plus black. We worked on Vicki’s patio with metal table so spills wouldn’t matter.


Without going into detail, which is in Frieda’s book… here is the basic process we did.

All the fabric was soaked in a bucket of soda ash, we used Arm & Hammer Super Washing soda from the grocery store.

We mixed up 3 dye colors at first with hot water and used them for our gradations…purple, raspberry, cobalt.


Then we mixed dyes in different concentrations as Frieda describes in her book and soaked the half yard cuts in the 7 buckets from dark to light.


We mixed the fabric around to try to get the dye evenly on the fabric even though we were going for a mottled effect.


Next we squeezed out the fabric and put them in zip lock bags for transport and to let them sit for 24 hours before rinsing.


The next day I started rinsing each cut in the sink. I think this was the most time consuming part. I thought I should rinse until the water was clear but that wasn’t happening so after a few minutes of rinsing and wringing, I dropped the fabric into a big bucket of hot water and Retayne which sets the color.  The water looked dark purple but none of the color transferred onto the fabric so it was ok.

After sitting for few minutes in Retayne, I put them all into my front loader, gave them a cold rinse and spin…then washed in hot water with detergent…then cold rinse and spin and into the dryer.

Here is what they look like after ironing with steam.  I love the colors and think they turned out very well….mottled as we wanted.



Next Monday we’ll do the last colors. Someone had the audacity to ask what we’ll use this fabric for!! Well, you know it may sit in the stash to ‘cure’ for a few years… but I think of it this way…it’s something that I’ve wanted to learn and try and the cost was worth it for the new knowledge.




  1. Fabulous, you guys did a great job.

  2. Beautiful shades, love how the colors come out.
    I need to hit the dye stores and get some cotton dyes.


  3. It was almost five years before I used the first fabrics that I dyed. I will give you some advice about that. Dye more fabric. The more you have the less afraid you are to use it.