Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dye Bath

One of the biggest challenges in the Alabama Chanin process was sourcing cotton jersey - I was not expecting this.  There are a few online options, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Lucky for me, I work right down the road from the storefront location of Dharma Trading Co.  They are my main source for silk organza, but they also have a whole lot of different fabric options if you are not opposed to a lot of white, or going through the extra step of dying.

I have worked with RIT and Tulip brand dyes in the past with mixed results.  This process was more involved, to be sure, but the end result was much better.

For the first batch, I placed a scrap of cotton over the top of the container which contained my dye and about 1 cup of water, secured the fabric with a rubber band, and dumped it into the sink with my salted water.  Not a great idea (especially considering I had not yet put my rubber gloves on).  The water did not funnel through the fabric quickly enough, so it had nowhere to go but climb the fabric along with the pigment onto my hands.  I felt a bit like Anjelica Huston's character in Ever After after she landed in the dye bath.

For the next batch, I covered a second container with fabric and poured the liquid into it, giving the dyed water time to seep through the cloth.  So much better!

And my colors . . . Emerald and Sapphire . . . I swear I did not see the connection until I was standing at the sink and spooning the powder into a container.  I guess I have gemstones on my mind!

In the end, I am quite impressed with how even the color turned out.  It is certainly more work than purchasing fabric that is ready to go, but I am confident there will be more fabric dye in my future.  And, to be honest, it was not nearly as difficult as I expected . . . just a bit tedious.


  1. Those two colors will look great together. The Chanin clothes are beautiful, too much work for me, but I like to view and read about them. So I am looking forward to your skirt.

  2. Dharma! Of course! Though it's just so hard to get myself across the bridge... I really love the tone on tone AC pieces, and dying slightly different shades of the same color would be so beautiful.

  3. Great dye job, Laura Mae! Envying your proximity to Dharma Trading (all those crafting possibilities so easily explored and obtained).

    As those colors fade gently into that good laundry, the output will look even more Alabama Chanin (one can envision you at a farmer's market, head scarf and hobo bag, purchasing locally raised honey and bee pollen).

    Awaiting your teachings on applying the stencil and decorative stitching.

  4. I love Procion dyes and those are fabulous colors!

  5. Dying fabric scares me. But yours look wonderful! How long did your hands stay green?

    1. The skin on my hands was back to normal in three days. The base of my nail beds are still sporting emerald green almost a week later . . . hoping that will disappear soon!