Tie Dying Fabric by the Yard

I’ve been meaning to experiment with dying for awhile, and the weather’s finally warmed enough to do it, so last week I dived in full force!

My initial intention was to make some textured solids and two or 3 color tie dye yards that would then be cut and sewn into toddler clothing for my small shop, The Blue Moose.

After some research, I ordered this dye kit. I settled on this one because it includes a soda ash step, so a step up from your one step store kits, but also because it was super cheap. There are much better fiber reactive dye kits out there, but because this is my first expiriment, I wanted to keep my investment small.

For fabric, I was able to snag an 18 lb scrap box of white fabric in mystery bases from Carriage House Printery. It came to about $65 after shipping so it was a steal! The bases were a mystery but I knew ahead of time that most of their printing is on cotton lycra and DBP, plus I wanted to see how dye took to different bases, so it was perfect for my needs. You have to know your bases by touch if you go this rout though, because fiber reactive dyes only work on natural fibers. I’m saving my DBP for another dye tutorial coming soon!

While my fabric was prewashing, I prepped my work area with some garbage bags to prevent staining, and got some old dishes out for pieces that would be scrunched, not tied. These dishes cant be used for food after they’ve been dyed in, so don’t use anything that you care about ruining!

Once my fabric was prepped, I mixed my soda ash in a big tub with water, to the ratio recommendations on the package (two gallons for the amount in my kit) and let it soak for a half hour.

I rung it out and twisted, tied and crumpled in a bunch of random ways. I had mostly cotton lycra, but some small pieces of organic cotton interlock, cotton woven, gauze, and a couple pieces of bamboo rayon spandex.

Then I squirted my dye on willy nilly with no real plan! It was messy and my hands are still green a week later. 8 long hours later, I opened them up to peek!

My favorite pieces were my blues that were just tightly twisted up until they naturally formed a twisty blue. These were done on my rayon pieces. There were lots of uhohs where my dye didnt reach as much of the fabric as I had thought/hoped.

I rinsed in my tub and then threw everything in the wash. This is where things went south. My blue turned all white spots light blue, on every piece, and everything came out much lighter than I had hoped.

These are my uggo duck up pieces. Not good color saturation, too much white/blue, not really usable at all. Some will be used for test patterns, others I’ll try dying over at a later date.

These pieces, while not how I intended, wound up usable. You’ll notice that the black and the blue pieces took muchhhh better. The only piece that held the yellow/green well color was my 100% cotton interlock. My bamboos held well too.

I’m happy that I dyed before sewing because I can pick and choose concentrated pieces of my dyes in my pattern placement.

Here’s a look at some all sewn up: 100% organic cotton interlock with cotton lycra bands

Bamboo Rayon Lycra

And the following are all 12oz weight, thick cotton lycra:

I have more salvageable fabric to sew and can’t wait to dig in! While the experiment definitely gets filed under DUCK UPS, I am happy with how my finished pieces are looking! So not a total loss.

Here’s what I’ll do differently next time:

  • Better dyes. I’ll get some from Dharma Dyes next time, as these are what professional dyers recommended to me
  • I’ll only wash like color dyes together, so my blue doesn’t turn everything blue
  • I’ll use more 100% organic cotton interlock. I prefer sewing with cotton lycra and I will dye it again in the future, but there’s no doubt that the 100% cotton took way better
  • I’ll use more dye for better saturation
  • I’ll leave it 24 hrs to sit before rinsing instead of 8

Stay tuned for my next installment! I currently have some dip dyed double brush poly in my wash and I can’t wait to see how it turned out! I’ll share that process and result next week.

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