Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Adventures in Fabric Dyeing

The first challenge was to find out where to buy fabric dye.  You used to be able to get a whole rainbow of colours at any grocery store in town but apparently that is not the case anymore.  In fact, the sales clerks that I asked for it looked at me like I'd just fallen off a turnip truck backwards, bumped my head and was dillusional.  All I got were blank stares and shoulder shrugs.

A co-worker told me that she'd purchased fabric dye at Shoppers Drug Mart before.  I stopped off at one of the local stores on my way home that day.  Yes, they did have it. white, which turned out to be colour remover, not fabric dye.  Nothing useful to me, however.  I was looking for more subtle colours that would be appropriate for the new medieval garb I plan to make to wear at SCA events.

Last night, after I'd run all over the place looking for dye in the past two weeks, a friend informed me that I could find fabric dye at Fabricland...a fabric store.  Well, that makes entirely too much sense for me to have thought of that on my own.  In hindsight, it seems so obvious though.  It's true what they say, hindsight is 20/20.

I ultimately did find the dye I was looking for at Zellers in, of all places, the sewing notions department.  My first thought would not have been to look there but a knowledgeable sales associate pointed me in that direction.  I bought several packages in appropriate hues (they only had a few colour choices available), fearful that I might have difficulty finding it again.

So, I head off to the laundromat with the white, 100% cotton, queen size sheet that I'd purchased for $4.99 at Value Village.  I followed the instructions to the letter....well, alright....almost to the letter.  I rinsed the sheet under cold water to get it wet first.  Then, I popped the two loonies into the machine and started it filling up with hot water.  I added the whole package of dye. 

Next, in goes the damp sheet.  After ensuring that the whole thing was staying submerged in the dye solution, I let it run through the complete cycle.  The instructions did say not to let it go through the final spin stage and, in retrospect, perhaps that may have been detrimental to the process.  The table salt that I added in the cold water rinse stage to set the colour could have been ill advised too.

At any rate, the sheet was mostly blue when it came out of the machine.  What baffles me is why there are a number of darker blue blotches on the fabric, and it truly mystifies me how there could be a few pure white patches still visible.  Okay, experiment #1 in dyeing fabric was a wee bit less than successful.  The material will serve me for making my first trial garb though, and who knows, it might end up good enough to wear to an event some time.

Does anyone have some helpful tips or tricks to employ when I dye my next piece of fabric?  I probably did not have all the material wet enough when I put it into the washing machine for starters.  I'd say it was more damp, than wet.  Also, I think that I should have dissolved the powdered dye in a small amount of water first before putting it into the machine to make sure it was broken down properly.  I wonder if air pockets could have dispersed the dye unevenly, hence the dark blotches and white spots?  You're supposed to wear rubber gloves?  Please help if you can!

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