I'm Dreaming of a Bright Christmas!

Holiday Cheer and Color

Earlier this week, I scheduled myself a long overdue Dye Day.  For this particular session, I had several missions:

1. Achieve more vibrant colors by mixing up the correct dye concentration.
After disappointing results due to my miscalculations, I was sure to double and triple check the formulas and my math to achieve a 5% Dye Concentration.  I mixed up small amounts of three colors:  Amethyst (mixed dye), Chartreuse (mixed dye), and Cerulean Blue (pure dye).  As you can see above, I was successful in achieving more saturated color!! 

2. Experiment with different fabrics.
Over the past few months, I have gathered a collection of fabrics for dyeing: linen remnant from a SAQA Regional Meeting, an entire bolt of P&B Dyers Muslin/Obsol thanks to a fellow quilt guild member, and a package of cheesecloth.  I was curious how each would take up dye, as compared to the Pimatex PFD fabric that I typically use.  Of the four fabrics, only two were prepared for dye (PFD), so I only washed and scoured the linen and cheesecloth to remove any sizing/chemicals that might interfere with the dye uptake.  The four fabrics were then soaked in a soda ash bath overnight and are pictured in the top left below clockwise:  linen is the darkest fabric, small bundle is the cheesecloth, Pimatex PFD, and P&B Dyers Muslin which is cream colored with little specks of fiber scattered throughout.
Scientific Experimentation with a Wardrobe Malfunction (hole in glove and forgetting to put glove back on)

3. Manipulate the fabrics in order to achieve a solid effect.
There are a variety of ways to achieve solid fabrics.  One of my dyeing friends demonstrated how she uses a small countertop washing machine to agitate the fabrics.  While I love the results, the process is pretty water intensive.  Another friend recently demonstrated how she manipulates and smooshes the fabric by hand for nearly 15 minutes to achieve a solid look. which can be labor and time intensive if you are trying to dye multiple colors/fabrics in one session.  So I sought out to explore an alternative.  For each colorway, I combined all the fabrics into a plastic tub and applied the dye to all 4 fabrics at once.  For the next two or so minutes, I massaged all four fabrics together by hand and then laid each fabric flat onto individual sheets of Duralar plastic.  I used an old gift card to squeegee out any air bubbles or excess dye that might cause inconsistency across the fabric, and then left the stack to batch overnight.  Below you can see the finished results. 
Holiday Spread

For the most part, all three color groups read as solid, with the Cerulean Blue being the most consistently solid, some discoloring along the edges of some of the larger Chartreuse fabrics, and some marbling in the Amythyst group.  I have a few theories as to the variations:  Pure (Cerulean Blue) vs. Mixed Dyes (Amythyst and Chartreuse), Oversized Fat Quarters that didn't quite fit on the Duralar plastc (edges), and actual manipulation time.  I started with the blue group and suspect I spent more time massaging those fabrics and may have shortened the massage times with each subsequent grouping.  Of course, these are all theories which I can test and explore in future dye sessions! 

Another observation is how closely both the Pimatex PFD and P&B Muslin resembled once dyed!  I was fully expecting the Muslin fabrics to be a bit darker due to the cream colored base...but they were nearly identical.  I suspect differences might be more noticeable if using lighter colors and/or lower dye concentrates, which may be a future experiment (luckily I have a bolt of each PFD fabric!!)

Overall, I am really pleased with the results, and know the recipient of these three bundles will enjoy using them in future creative adventures!!

There just happened to be some extra dye concentrate leftover...which meant I got to play with color bursts using half yard cuts!!  Initially, I combined only two dye colors:

  • Chartreuse and Cerulean Blue (top)
  • Cerulean Blue and Amythyst (bottom)

Two Color Bursts

I am amazed at the range of colors and values achieved using two colors!!  So, let's see what happens when I combine all three colors onto one cut of fabric...
Trio Colors for a Trio of Color Bursts

These may just be an early Christmas gift to myself!!

Comments

  1. You had an enjoyable time plus you have many notes and future experiments to consider. Love the scientific method you employ. Truly. Merry Christmas.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you!! I always feel like a mad scientist when I dye! I learn so much from each dye day and try to document my discoveries along with a few mistakes along the way so I can continue getting glorious color and hopefully repeatable results!! Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

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