This Fall's Hottest Colors

Wake Us When the Sunny Weather Returns
We are finally getting some much needed rain here in Northern California.  And while Panda & Susie Q pouted a bit about having to go out in the rain, I celebrated the overcast weather with a fun dye party!!  Two friends came over this weekend and we took over the kitchen and dining room as our dyeing laboratory.  We each turned into mad scientists as we created our colorful potions and concocted our own beautiful hand dyed creations.  

Abracadabra!!  Hocus Pocus!!
For this dye session, I wanted to conduct a few scientific experiments of my own.

1.  Experiment with new Prepared for Dye fabrics.
I really love the drape and quality of Dharma's Pimatex Cotton.  Unfortunately, there was a bit of a glitch with manufacturing over the summer and they were out of stock for several months.  After some initial panic, I took this opportunity to explore some new PDF cottons by buying 5 yards of  60" Poplin (based on a suggestion from a quilt instructor) and 5 yards of Mercerized Combed Cotton Broadcloth (after consulting with a member of the Dharma customer service team).  One of my friends had an entire bolt of PDF 45" To Dye For PDF fabric made by EE Schenck Company to try as well.

I really liked the soft drape and feel of the Poplin and found it to be very comparable to the Pimatex.  However, I found the Broadcloth to be heavier in weight, almost comparable to canvas cloth.  So while I suspect it may be too thick for quilting, it may make for some really lovely tote bags.  It did dye beautifully, although it required a bit more effort to press flat.  I found that the To Dye For fabric was a looser weave but soft and draped beautifully.  
To Dye For Rainbow
2.  Try Creating Hand Dyed Mandalas
I've been wanting to hand dye some mandalas to use as a foundation for some whole cloth quilts.  After watching several online tutorials to figure out how best to fold and manipulate the fabric, I decided to give it a whirl.  I was pleased with the overall designs (but will be conducting some future experiments re:  color combinations and trying to achieve more vibrant colors).
Hand Dyed Mandalas
3.  Experiment with Rinse Cycles
Since I use so many colors, I was curious whether they react with one another during the rinse process.  Typically I wait 12+ hours for my fabric to batch before rinsing them.  I squeeze out any excess dyes and then throw them all into the washing machine with some Blue Dawn and do several wash/rinse cycles on both hot and cold until the water is clear.  I had a leftover fat quarter of the Broadcloth Cotton that I ripped into 3 pieces.  One was my Control and never entered the washing machine.  The second swatch was my Experiment #1 and went into the washing machine before all the other hand dyed fabrics were added.  The last swatch, Experiment #2, was added after the first full rinse cycle.

As to be expected my control remained bright white.  Experiment #1 fabric did pick up a few light blotches of dye here and there.  Experiment #2 fabric was very similar to the control fabric and was almost impossible to differentiate, other than feeling a bit more textured after the washing/drying process.  So my take home lesson is to hold off on adding any lighter colored fabrics until after the 1st rinse cycle.  
Left to Right:  Control, Experiment #1 and Experiment #2
Would you like to see my other fun creations?!?  Here is a sampling of my hand dyed goodies:
My recent Fall walk-abouts certainly inspired much of my color palette as I incorporated lots of warm reds, oranges, golds and even browns.
Fall Inspired Harvest
Celebrating Brown

 To break up all the warm colors, I did whip up some cool colors:  purples, blues and greens.
Cool Creations
My mother and brother had sent some white shirts out for me to transform during my next dye party.  My mother requested some warm colors (middle) and my brother had no special requests.  I sent along some pics as a preview in anticipation of shipping to Florida.  My brother liked his one shirt as it seemed retro.  I agree as I thought it had the illusion of a bowling shirt!
Tye Dye T-Shirts
Next week I am looking forward to visiting the Dharma store en route to a teaching engagement!!  I already placed an order for pick up (more Pimatex along with some fun new colors of dye), and I suspect I may find some new goodies to add to my order.  I can't wait for my next Dye session!!


  1. Mel, I love the way you work through your ideas. So scientific and such beautiful results.

    1. And you should what a mad scientist I become when dyeing!! I am very much in my and art combined...I just love it!


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