Friday, August 5, 2011

Adventures in Fabric Dying (note to self :: get gloves)

I think that I just opened Pandora's Box.

Never, ever in all my years have I dyed my own - anything. (Okay- I did dye my hair with a bold teal streak last summer but it was too much maintenance to keep up with.) I didn't do tye-dye at home, school or camp. No Home Ec projects, no College-Art-School  experiments. So this is completely uncharted territory for me.

I bought a boatload of plain white onesies last night to make more of the Tiny Acorn tees. I love white, but more importantly- I LOVE COLOR! So I decided to try dying my own fabric. There's an AC Moore right down the street from my house, so while Lilly was in camp today, I went over to see what dye options existed. I only knew of those Rit boxes that look kinda like Jell-o. But surprisingly enough- they didn't carry them- AT ALL! They had a Tulip pre-mixed dye that you had to use in the washing machine. We have a front loader so this option would not work for me. The other choice was a Tulip powder. So I decided to give that a shot.

Teal dye...I sense a theme with my dye choices.

I decided to follow the directions on the package vs. trolling the internet for reviews and work-arounds. I figured - it will either work- or be an epic fail. So the first thing I did was boil a gallon of water. The package said to use STEAMING water, and well- boiling is the only was I really know how to get water that hot.

So to my steaming hot water I added 1/4 cup of salt and the contents of the packet. Stirred it around and hoped for the best as I dipped the first onesie in. It was really hard to tell what color the dye bath was, so it wasn't until the white onesie went in that I saw it was more of a blue/turquoise than a "teal". Oh well... the color wasn't what I expected...could be worse- right? So I decided to add and 2nd onesie. One of the downfalls of this method is that I could only dye 2 onesies at a time. Maybe 3 if they were really small.

"Teal" Dye bath

It said to stir for constantly for15 minutes and then occasionally for 30 minutes. So I kinda stirred for 5 minutes, and then here and there for 10 minutes and then a few times over the next 30 minutes. Overall I was pretty impressed by how the color took. I was nervous that it might be spotty or streaky or too light or too dark. But it kinda just sat there and turned a really great solid color. I'm sure using a brand new white cotton garment was helpful. I can see how the dye might be spotty if it was a blend material or something that has been washed or stained a lot.

Looks blue to me.

After the 45 minutes was up I realized that I should be wearing gloves. And an apron. Luckily I have LOTS of aprons. But no gloves. I carefully scooped the onesies out and started rinsing them in our stainless steel sink under cold running water. The dye came out really clean after just a few minutes. The pot of dye water was still hot, so I decided to grab 2 more onesies and see what would happen with a 2nd dye lot.

Overall- I was THRILLED with the results. The first 2 onesies came out identical in color. The second two were different styles so they came out slightly different in color and were a tad lighter in hue than the first lot. Right now all 4 onesies are in the washing machine, getting an extra good wash and rinse. I would not recommend this method if you need consistency in color. It seems like there are numerous factors that could affect the dye outcome. But for me, to offer one of a kind appliqued tees - this is PERFECT! I can't wait to a) buy more dye and b) make some more onesies

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