Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Doing the gradation

Once I have my three main dyes mixed and my fabric soaking, I take time to clean up the area I will be working on and to set out the containers I will put my dyed fabric in.

I want to clear away the blender and the dye powder containers and set out my smaller containers to hold the dyed fabric. I like to use small glad ware like containers rather than zip lock baggies. I like them for two reasons. 1. They are stackable once they are filled and 2. They are much easier to clean and use again.


You will need a dozen small containers to put your dyed fabric in. I got mine at the dollar store. I also like to have a small bowl with water in it to rinse my hands in rather than constantly turning on and off the water facet. Remember you want to keep your hands clean when you start the dyeing process because where dye lands dye stays and if you pick up your clean white fabric with yellow dye on your fingers you will have yellow dots on your next gradation. Again it is one of the reasons I keep a towel tucked into my waist.


I am going to use the chart in my book for the 12 step dye gradation. I start by dyeing the first fat quarter with a 1/4 cup of yellow dye. I pull out the number one fabric from the top of the pile that is soaking in my bucket and place it in my small glad ware container or a dishpan. I pour the 1/4 cup of yellow dye over the fabric and with my IMG_0434gloved hands I “squish ” it around. Squish is a technical term I like to use. I want to make sure that the dye gets on all the fabric as evenly as possible. I have found that it takes about a cup of dye to dye about a yard of a fabric, so I can use 1/4 cup of dye for a 1/4 yard of fabric. Heavier fabrics will soak up more dye.

I will have excess dye in the bottom of the container, do not be tempted to pour it back in the big dye bottle. Once the dye and the sodium carbonate mix they begin to bond and you don’t want the sodium carbonate water to mix with the dye water.

In my experience, if you leave the excess dye in the container it will make your fabric more mottled, if you pour it off your fabric will be more solid. You can choose which you want to do, leave the excess dye in the container or pour it out. I usually have an extra piece of fabric in a dishpan and I pour all of my left over dye on it. This creates “mystery” fabric.


Now that I have finished squishing the dye around I rinse my hands and put a lid on the container and then start the next step in the gradation. 1/4 Yellow with 1 tsp of Red. When I begin to mix the dyes together I add them to a larger measuring cup and use a whisk to beat the colors together. If you don’t do this they will not blend well and you will get mottled colors.


When you have worked through all the colors you can stack up the containers and let them sit over night. Anywhere from 2-24 hours is a good time frame. I like to let them sit for at least 6-8 hours.


More to come….

049 Dyeing on a summer day. I can let the fabrics lay out in the sun and they will dry in about 1/2 hour. Then they are ready to wash.

easteregg I call this gradation “Easter Egg” while it is not really bright the lime green to purple makes me think of Easter Eggs. This is one of my “favorite” color combinations.

friedaandersongreenjack This little Jack in the Pulpit using all of the colors of “Easter Egg” gradation.


Mommarock said...

I love the bright colors.. so you leave the colors in longer if you want them bright? Less if you want them pastely? I'm just starting to learn.. I will stick with your blog and learn more.. this is fascinating!

Frieda said...

No, I will talk about pastel colors in the next post. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

So does leaving the fabrics in the containers longer make it a more "saturated" or richer color...brighter...or ?? You say that you usually leave yours 6-8 hours rather than go the entire 24. Is there a reason for that in regards to the color achieved?

Nancy Albright said...

I hope that you'll also give us some detail and tips for the gradations on one length of fabric. Is this flat dyeing or immersion? I'd love to get the solid color and smooth transitions that you accomplish!

Frieda said...

I said that I leave my at least 6-8, but I usually leave it over night which ends up being 24 hours. The colors will get a bit more saturated leaving it longer, but the real way to get saturated color is to use more dye powder mixed with water. Most "recipes" call for far less dye powder.
I will cover briefly dying flat on platters later on.

Mishka said...

Thanks for the great series on how you dye fabrics, Frieda. I'm enjoying it immensely.

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