Dyeing in the Heat

So how do I keep an active and highly creative 10 year old busy in the summer heat? We have been dyeing fabrics!

Dyeing in the sun

I’ve been experimenting with low immersions dying for a few months now.  Read how others do it, watched videos, and in the end, came up with my own unique way that I am loving the results far better!  Miss Bailey and I cut up pre washed 100% cotton muslin into fat quarters. 22″x18″ for those who are not quilters.  Then we lay them out on our glass table outside and start to play.  We mix dyes in recycled soda bottles and write the color name on the bottle with a Sharpie marker as you can’t always tell the color looking at the bottle.  I love to use the Rit Liquid Dyes as they are nontoxic, mix easily and are highly concentrated so it’s easy for us to get true deep colors when mixing. I tried the powders and they clump and separate too much and you should really use a face mask while mixing so you don’t breathe in the fine powder.  I wanted something safer and easier.


This day Bailey decided to use some rose leaves from the yard as a mask and spray the dye to leave a ghost image.  After it dried, she dyed again with a blending color so that the leaves were just faintly visible.  Smart girl!

I like to do an all over color dye, let dry, rinse and rewet, and then scrunch my fabric up and place into containers and add just a small amount of a darker color(s) and let set and dry in the sun.  This gives a highly textured effect and depending on how much I squish the fabric into the second dyeing will give different results.

Most people set the dye in a microwave.  I don’t want to have to do that and I found living in the desert, I can use our hot sun to do the job instead.  It’s a deeper richer color than just dye baths and letting it dry or almost dry in the sun gives the textures I love.

After we are done, we simply fill a pale of clean water and rinse rinse rinse until all the extra dye is out and the water is clear when rinsed. Usually takes 3 rinse ‘cycles’.  Then we iron to make sure the dye is set completely.  I’ve used this same method using watered down fluid acrylic paints in the past too when I created my artsy curtains in the Art Studio.

CAUTION:  When using any kind of containers, remember that you can never use for food items if you have used for dyeing.  We have used cheap plastic storage containers, recycled soda bottles, (the ones with a spout top work beautifully), also zip lock bags to let them sit overnight in too.  Also, we always wear gloves to protect our hands when working with dyes or we end up with very colorful skin that takes days or weeks to come off. Can you guess how I know? LOL

I also am starting a Dye recipe book.  With each mixture, I take a small swatch of fabric and dye it and then when dry, I write on the fabric either the recipe I used of dyes, or the color name I gave my recipe in my book. Not all mixes are winners, but it did help me learn how certain mixes produced certain results. I always start with 2 cups water unless I make a note I used a different amount. IMG_2368

TIP: If you are going to experiment with dyes, keep a mixing chart with how much you use of which colors and keep notes about the results. None of our colors are just out of the bottle, we mix what we like. Here’s a peek at one of our experimental color ways we are developing for a project. This will be printed out and the swatches of each dyed fabric will be glued to the opposite page and put into a binder.

Dye Recipes

Some of our results? I’m in LOVE with these!  Perfect for making art quilts, using as blenders in my quilts, creating decorating items… the list is endless and my mind was racing when I saw them.

Hand Dyed Fabric IMG_2551


Stay tuned for some awesome things we made with these fabrics and previously dyed ones.  For now I’m still on a mission to complete my daughter’s wedding quilt she always wanted.  Here’s a peek at my sewing room right now.  Yes, I have split up the art section from the sewing section.  The art room is now in an empty spare room.  Still being organized.  I needed the space as my supplies began to expand and I started quilting and sewing again more and much larger projects.  I’m doing this king sized quilt as a ‘Quilt as you Go’ method as I only have a table top sewing machine not a long arm quilting one.  Sigh…. maybe one day. 🙂  Can you believe that Pfaff sewing machine is over 35 years old now?!  Serviced twice in all those years.  Crossing my fingers I can one day buy a new one and pass this one onto Miss Bailey. 🙂 We fight take turns, over the one right now. LOL


Sewing/Quilting Room

Have you tried dyeing your own fabrics?  I’d LOVE to hear from you and how you do it.

1 comment

    • Vicky on August 15, 2015 at 2:49 pm
    • Reply

    Love how creative you are, my friend! You are making wonderful memories with Miss Bailey! 😀

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