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Thread: Hand Dyeing Fabric: What Fabric Type to use

  1. #1
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    Hand Dyeing Fabric: What Fabric Type to use

    Hey all. 1st let me say that I changed my name on the board from Mrstamper to Guyquilter so no one mistakes me as a woman. LOL.

    I just recently went the Paducah quilt show and saw some wonderful hand dyed fabrics. I love them so much that I went by the Pro-Chemical booth and picked up some sample kits to dye some fabrics.

    I want to learn how to hand dye but have some questions that I am on the fence about. I am getting all kinds of mixed answers on the type of fabric to use. I am being told that I need to use only PFD cotton for hand dyeing and to make sure to soak my fabric is soda ash 1st. ON the other hand I am being told that you can use bleached muslin and just throw in the washing machine to get all the sizing and chemicals out, which will make it PFD. PFD fabric is ridiculous in price and I am trying to figure out the cheapest way to learn with my sample low immersion chemicals. Can anyone help me on this? Thanks
    Stefen in Nashville

  2. #2
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    When I took a class in dyeing years ago, we just washed our muslin at home first; we did not use PFD. Once you know what you are doing and get into it big-time, then you might want to pay the price for PFD.

    Here's a link I found that seems to describe my class:
    http://wildonionstudio.wordpress.com...-dye-tutorial/

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    hi stephan
    i am not a fabric dyer - but i just want to direct you to this webpage which does address your question. dharma trading has a good rep and their prices do not appear unreasonable. there is a ton of info on fabrics and dyes and also tutorials. they also specifically address low immersion techniques.
    http://www.dharmatrading.com/info/fabrics.html
    lefty

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i've been dyeing fabrics since the mid 70's...pre-washed fabric /with detergent- without fabric softener==is PFD fabric!
    truely- that's all it is--fabric that has been pre-washed to remove any sizing/chemicals.
    you can dye anything you want-i've dyed lots of prints i wanted to change.
    as long as it's a natural fiber (cotton, silk, wool) you can dye it and have lots of (surprising fun) doing so. {polyester/non-natural materials) do not dye well
    Visit the Dharma Trading Company web site- they have lots of 'hints, tips, advice along with lots of supplies- a good resource- i've actually been shopping with them for 20+ years
    2 great (resource) dye books i've had for years and turn to on a regular basis are:
    Fabric to Dye For and
    The Fabric Dyer's Dictionary
    they will give you (recipies) for creating 70+ colors with 6 colors of dye
    and 12-14 step gradations
    along with lots of other techniques, helps to get you started on your dyeing journey.
    i've been including at least a piece of hand dyed fabric in every quilt i make for many many years- i love creating my own fabrics- and have made some great backings for some spectacular quilts-
    i buy alot of 108" wide cotton flannel from Fabric.com and then dye it how ever i want for quilt backs. (i've done lots of regular cotton s too- but i love flannel backed quilts- i've dyed lots of wools and silks too.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  5. #5
    Super Member clsurz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl View Post
    you can dye anything you want-i've dyed lots of prints i wanted to change.
    as long as it's a natural fiber (cotton, silk, wool) you can dye it and have lots of (surprising fun) doing so.
    Go to the thrift store and buy some cheap fabric/bedsheets, clothes and such. Take it home and wash it to make sure there is no sizing in it. Than dye it! I also like to buy fabrics that are cheap enough that to me are ugly to dye and get all sorts of results. It makes for wonderful background canvas to thead paint, stamp on, or use paints to draw your own one of a kind project. Or simply use whatever it comes out as in your quilting.
    clsurz

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    If I was going to all the work of dyeing fabric and spending the money for the dyes, etc, I wouldn't start with cheap fabric.

  7. #7
    yel
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    sometimes people donate used sheets for our charity quilts [we use some of them for backs] i used rit dye .....just cause i was tired of white sheets .....also used some paint stamps and put in dye in different colors

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    I haven't dyed anything but learned a lot just reading these posts. I will remember I don't have to use the expensive fabric. This sounds like a fun project to attempt.

  9. #9
    Senior Member melodyr's Avatar
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    Whatever you use needs to be natural fibers...cotton, linen, etc. if you're using fiber reactives. They won't work with synthetics. I get Kona cotton at Hancocks...they discount the bolt ends of the 108" wide stuff. (I live near Paducah) All I do is wash it and don't use fabric softener...I've been dyeing for years and never purchased PFD fabric. Overdyeing is a great way to get additional prints or colors and I am always bringing home thrift store stuff for various projects. I buy used white cotton clothing and once they are washed, make perfect tie dye. Old bluejeans are cool overdye and there's always a horrible print that can be turned into something great. Tthe others are right...Dharma is wonderful....I get most of my supplies from them, but do drop a big chunk with Pro chem each year at the quilt show because I appreciate their loyalty to the event.Dharma has tutorials that are really handy. Here's some of my dye projects...a tie dye quilt I made form my niece...an overdyed bluejean Kindle cover and some ice dyed silk scarves.
    Attached Images Attached Images



  10. #10
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    Alot will depend on the kind of dye you are using. Last yr in Raleigh NC at the quilt show I learned how to dye silk using a particular dye. I know that Georgia Bonsteel has done shows on it and even Craftsy.com has a class on it. These classes are great because they are guaranteed satisfaction, once you buy them you can access them as long and as much as you like so there is no time constraints. There is some dyes that are like paints that use the sun to set them and there is even a technique called snow or ice dyeing. We were told for silk dyeing to go to thrift stores to get silk because it's cheaper. Then you can also add resist to them so that certain areas won't take on the dye. Lots of possiblilities. Good luck.
    Judy

  11. #11
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    Hi Stephen . I have dyed fabric and here are some useful hints.
    1. Follow instructions on first run it is not a day job over night.
    2. Wear an apron etc. and don't forget gloves with no holes and don't let dye in. Guess. How I know. I had purple hands for a week.
    3. MUst wear a mask at one point. If you have lost yours a bra will make a good substitute. Tried it and it works.
    4. Keep wet fabrics away from ea h other
    5, enjoy it is fascinating .sorry cant find my quilt. I must have given it away it was floating squares on black.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Last edited by DOTTYMO; 05-08-2013 at 07:44 AM. Reason: Forgot pictures
    Finished is better than a UFO

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    I do quite a lot of hand dyeing and I don't really care what anyone says, I can tell a difference in the color and the feel of a cheap muslin versus a better quality fabric. It doesn't necessarily have to be a PFD - I use some higher quality muslin to dye sometimes - but I get the best results when I use the Kona PFD. And honestly, it's not that expensive when I buy a bolt of it from Joann's with a 50% off coupon (or the 40% coupon, depending on what I have on hand).

    I love Dharma's dyes, and their customer service is excellent. But whatever you do, don't skimp on the fabric. Why spend all that time and effort (and the money to buy the dye) and then use it on cheap muslin?

    I never pre-wash my fabric, by the way, regardless of whether I use a muslin. I do always always always soak in soda ash solution. And I rarely use urea. I've done four lots this week already, and they are just beautiful. The one thing I've learned is to just experiment with it and play around to see how things work. I keep copious notes and swatches so I can replicate results and sometimes, so I can avoid certain results.

    Good luck and most of all, have fun!

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