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Fabric Dyeing

fabric dyeing

I did some fabric dyeing not too long ago. I use hand-dyed fabrics in my textile artworks. During the summer, I dye my fabrics outside in the back yard when the weather is above 70 degrees (Fahrenheit). This time the temperatures were above 100 degrees and that might have been a little too hot for my very low-water immersion technique.

Here is my set-up.

fabric dyeing

The shoe boxes hold the different colors of fabric. I usually dye one yard pieces. But sometimes, I will go larger if I need to. I mix all my colors using red, yellow and blue Procion chemical-reactive dyes. The dye molecules bond with the fibers of the fabric in the process and create the most permanent color.

The dyes I used for this session are pretty old. They will still create colors but it won’t be quite as saturated as fresh dyes. For this session, I wanted to create some blacks and grays.

fabric dyeing

Because the dyes are old, the colors didn’t come out quite as I anticipated. But I knew that would probably happen. I also dyed some other colors. Below, I tried a free-form gradation with two different colors. The image shows the same colors used on different fabrics.

For the yellow-greens, I did the same thing. The fabric on the left is a white fabric that is prepared for dyeing and the fabric on the right was an old off-white sheet.

When dyeing fabric, it’s hard to tell what the final color will be like. When the fabric is wet, it looks like I will get a nice dark color. But sometimes after the washing process and drying, the color is much lighter. Below you can see the difference between the wet fabric (bottom) and the dry fabric (top).

Dyed fabric wet and dry

Thickened Dye

This year, I wanted to try using some thickened dye. I have experimented with it a little in the past with a friend. I tried mono printing with the thickened dye, drawing with it using a squeeze bottle, as well as using it to stamp on the fabric.

The results are interesting and I need to experiment some more.

Drawing with thickened dye
Dye printed fabric

The blues on the pieces above were painted on after I have printed with the black dye. Now, I will have to figure out how to use these.