Morning everyone! Today I’m really excited to introduce my new post series, FabriKate!
I’ve been learning to sew for a while now, and while I still have loads to learn I’ve found that I’ve started becoming interested in another aspect of making clothes – the fabric! I want to learnt about how to manipulate fabric, how to dye it, how you can alter it with beautiful stitching, and other techniques I’ll discover along the way! I’m really excited as I’ve never even dyed fabric before.
So I thought I’d start there – with dyeing fabric. Just look what I dyed the other day!
Isn’t it pretty??
I had a lot of fun creating this effect! I just want to state that I have no idea what I’m doing but am learning along the way! Haha. I may well have done this a weird way, and if I have please tell me! There is method to my madness though. I’m planning to try all types of techniques to see which I prefer for what I want to achieve.
So, some of you might recognise this type of pattern and realise that this is a Shibori dyeing technique. According to Wikipedia (my source for all information) Shibori is a Japanese term given to a collection of dyeing techniques that involve tying, folding binding, compressing etc fabric to create beautiful patterns. I’ve been inspired by a number of creations in the blogosphere recently. I love Sallieoh’s gorgeous Tokyo jacket made using this technique. Isn’t it gorgeous? I was also inspired by this picture of one of my favourite fashion bloggers.
Sally from Charity shop chic was also inspired by this dress last year and created a gorgeous copy. I mean how prefect is this? Sally gave pretty good instructions for how she created her effect and I basically used her instructions when binding my fabric. Thanks Sally!
So, I’d decided on the technique but what next? I needed to decide on fabric. For this I was inspired by Sallieoh – she says she likes to use silk when dyeing her fabric and that it can take heat, I thought I’d find out for myself! So I ordered quite a lot of silk! There is a fantastic website – Dharma trading company, that sells all manner of silks and dyes, but it is in the US. They do post overseas, but I wanted to buy from nearer to home. I also wanted to buy silk specifically sold for dyeing – So that it as relatively untreated. I therefore bought from this website. They seem to specialise in silk painting, which means that they sell a lot of scarfs and the silk they do sell is not very wide (90cm). But they have a wide range and I can attest to the quality. I ended up getting 3 metres of crepe de chine, and 2 meters of habotai (coming soon!) It’s nice stuff that has dyed well.
Now I needed to buy the dye. Again, if you’re in the states the Dharma trading co sells fantastic range, but I wanted to see if there was an equivalent in this country. I ended up finding handpainted.net. What a great website! They sell a range of dyes and have a great blog with tutorials for different effects. It seemed to me that there were two choices of dyes – procion dyes and acid dyes. I am defintely not an expert of dyes but I did find out some interesting facts:
These work best on cellulose fibers, ie plant based fabrics, like cotton and linen. They also work on protein based fabric like wools and silks but the colours may not be as vivid and they might not set as well.
You need a whole heap of chemicals to go with it including, Soda ash and urea….
These work best on protein based fabrics like wools and silks, and also work well on synthetics although the colours may not be as vivid. However, they need a lot of heat! You need to boil the fabric on the stove and keep it hot. This might not be good for some fabrics – like wool. The colours are very vivid though and set strong.
I didn’t know which of these to go for… On handpainted.net’s blog they seem to recommend procion dyes for shibori techniques, and this is what Sallieoh used when making her Tokyo jacket. But she had also noted that the colour wasn’t as strong as she’d have liked, which I’d also heard from other bloggers. I knew I wanted a dark black so I was unconvinced by procion dyes for this particular project. I figured if silk can take heat, then it can take heat! I bought some acid dyes and got playing
First step was to bind the fabric correctly. The dye calls for wet, clean fabric, so I washed and rinsed the silk and then rung it out till it was wet but not dripping.
Seeing as silk can apparently be affected by dirt and oils I used some of this to avoid anything on my surfaces affecting the silk.
I then started to concertina it into strips.
Once that was done I concertinerd it in the other direction
and tied the ends together with elastic bands.
My elastic bands did not fit all the way around the whole pack so I tied the bands around each concertina separately.
It was then time to sort the dye. You will need a few bits for this part: A small tub to mix the dye in, and a large metal container that can go on the hob. I first spooned in the powder into the a small tub.
I wasn’t sure how much to use, and so was directed by the Dharma trading Co website. They suggest using 3 teaspoons of powder per 1lb of fabric, and doubling that if you’re aiming for a dark colour. I only had 0.5lb of fabric, but I wanted a dark colour so I used 3 teaspoons. In hindsight, I didn’t need as much. As I understand it, the idea behind acid dyes is that the dye should be completely taken up by the fabric, so after dying your water is pretty clear. Mine, however, was still jet black by the end!
Add warm water to the powder so that it mixes.
Then add that to the metal container. Add water to the mixture, not the other way round – apparently the mix should never be added to water – not sure why?? Anyhoo, add enough water so that the fabric has room to move.
Then add the fabric and heat up the water till it’s just below boiling, and keep it there. Stir it occasionally to make sure the dye is evenly spread. Continue to stir for around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the depth of colour, and the darkness that you want. I kept it in there for an hour.
You need to add either vinegar or salt to help the fabric soak up the dye.
Then simply empty the water! Wash the fabric in water till it runs clear. I then washed my fabric in some powedered washing powder, rinsed, and hung out to dry.
When it dried I was over the moon with the colour - it has a real depth to it. It’s gorgeous! The feel of the silk is also still wonderful, it hasn’t suffered through being boiled at all. In fact, it didn’t shrink – at all! I still don’t know how that’s possible?
There is some spotting in the dye in some areas.
I have read that this might be due to oils or dirts on the silk. It’s suggested that you wash the silk in synthrapol but seeing as I didn’t have any I decided that a wash in normal washing powder would be fine. Perhaps next time I need to invest! But I’m not that upset about the outcome, I quite like the spotted effect – the fabric isn’t meant to be perfect and I think the effect only adds to the home-made look. Oddly, this only happened where less dye was reaching the silk. So perhaps it isn’t a problem if the fabric is exposed to more dye? Nevertheless, the resulting fabric has such a wonderful variety of pattern in the end. At each end of the fabric the dye has set more, leaving a more graphic pattern,
and in the middle it looks far more traditional tie-dye.
I love the result I’ve got, but I wonder how else I could do this. Perhaps I should try procion dyes next, to see what the difference will be and do a little comparison?
Now, the real question is: What do I make with this gorgeous fabric?? I’ve come up with a few options, I’m thinking either a bomber jacket, or a sparates crop top and skirt combo, or even a flowy jacket? I’ve no idea which path to take – what do you think? And what do you think of my technique and results? I know I’ve probably done this technique in a slightly different way to the norm, but I love what I’ve created. Ahhh! I can’t wait to do more! Have you tried dyeing?