Fabric Play-Day

On Tuesday, the girls and I finished our schoolwork early, so I decided on a different art project for them. Dyeing fabric! I save the pieces of muslin that I trim off of quilt backs and wholecloth quilts as well as muslin I used as practice pieces for testing quilting designs and thread tension on my longarm machine. These are great for dyeing and using in my landscape quilts.

The photo above is the group of fabrics my girls made using Rit Dyes.
Here are some close-ups of individual pieces of their hand-dyed fabrics.

We played with mixing colors and got some really pretty results. I can see sunsets in these pieces.

The photo above was a very narrow piece - about 4 inches wide. My oldest DD decided to do a gradation from yellow to blue.

This piece has alot of Scarlet dye in it with some orange and dark blue. The girls were trying to get violet. The learned that the Scarlet dye is much stronger than the dark blue and overpowered the fabric.
Our next dyeing session will be interesting to see if the girls remember what they learned about color mixing this time around.
We poured the dyes onto the fabric and let them migrate. Then they girls decided the fabric dyes needed some help so they "squished" the fabric with their gloved hands. I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and microwaved it on high for 1 1/2 minutes to set the dyes.
The powdered dyes were mixed in one cup of 140 degree water. The only liquid dye I had was the scarlet. I mixed a good, healthy splash (about 2 Tablespoons) of that color in a cup of water.
We placed the wet fabric in a plastic bin and the girls poured their dyes over the fabric, squished it and swished it around. I microwaved it and rinsed it, threw it in the washer with Synthrapol, damp-dried it in the clothes dryer, then pressed it.
The girls set the pace for this project and not having a lot of patience, we worked pretty quickly. If we had let the dyes set on the fabric a bit longer, we would probably have had deeper colors, but either way, they will work great in my landscape quilts.
We also used pieces of muslin to soak up the dye left in the bottom of the bin after 2 or 3 pieces were dyed. They turned into some pretty shades of brown which will be good for tree trunks, rocks, and dirt paths in my landscapes.
I think we'll try this project again next week - after I go shopping for more fabric and dyes :)


Janet Hartje said…
What a wonderful activity to do with your children! Beautiful fabrics. Many budding quilt artists at your home. Janet Hartje
Shirley said…
I have never used Rit dyes and I am very pleased to have learned your method. Maybe my tip might be interestig for your girls.
I use a wall paper tub which is long and narrow and accordian fold the fabric the length of the tub, (if it is too long just fold it in half. then pour your colors on the fabric, side by side and gently allow the different colors to blend by squishing the colors where they meet.
you can then overdye them with another color but I usually don't.
I also spray water on portions to give more variety to the fabric color. I am definitely going to try dying this way as I think it would be quicker and I never thought of using the microwave. Thanks for this information. Shirley
Susan Loftin said…
Shirley and Janet - Thank you for the complements. We had tons of fun dyeing fabric and the Rit dyes are kid-friendly.
I have a wallpaper tub sitting in my garage - I'll give it a try next time around.
Millie said…
I have always wanted to dye fabric. Well, as a child I did it in South Africa, but it was just normal dye from the store.

The girls did an excellent job dying the fabric. What a great idea to put it in the microwave. Technology has changes so much. Thank you for sharing all the nice hand dyed fabric. This sure inspires me to get some dye and start dying my own.

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