Dye your own ribbon, yarn or threads – Here is how

18 09 2011

This weekend I have been dyeing ric rac and I thought that I would share how.  It is really very easy.

I bought a large amount of Ric Rac in different sizes and have dyed it in 20 different colorways (more on that later).  You don’t need to want to dye much to follow the instructions below.  Just adjust your process to match the volume you are dying.

You can use these instructions for any cellulose fibre (fibres which come from plants like cotton, rayon, linen, hemp, bark etc) and silk or blends of these fibres.

If you are dying threads or other items which are likely to get into a big knot, you should skein them up first.  Create a skein – size will vary depending on how much you are dyeing and how thick it is – and tie the skein loosely in about four places to hold it in shape and prevent knotting.  Don’t tie this tightly or the dye wont penetrate where the ties are.

I always, or nearly always, presoak my fabric in soda ash solution when I dye with Procion Dyes.  Mix about a tablespoon (Aus measure – 25mls) of soda ash in two to four litres of tap water and dissolve.  Then submerge your fabric etc and leave it to soak.

While the soda ash is soaking in prepare your dyes.  As a general rule, my starting point for colour is about a teaspoon (5mls) per litre of water.  More dye for dark colour, less for pastels.  Adjust your measurements to the volume of dye you need.  You might only need a quarter of a teaspoon in a cup if you are dying small amounts.

Generally, I will coordinate three colours into everything I dye.  This example has chocolate, olive and rust orange and I want it to be light, so I have used less than a teaspoon of each colour.

I am doing variegated or space dyeing on this, so lay out the ribbon, yarn or thread like I have with the ric rac.  I want it in an even spread so that the dye is evenly distributed.

The enemy of this type of dyeing is to have surplus dye in or around the fibre being dyed.  To avoid this, I use a rack and tray system.  The alternative is to put something down to absorb the excess dye such as fabric.  I often make what are known as mud fabrics by using them to absorb the excess dye.  In a mud fabric you let it take all the dyes and because they have some soda ash in them, they take in the fabric differently and you never quite know what you are going to get.

Pour the first colour across your fibre.  You need to go slow and have control.  If you prefer, you can use bottles with nozzles.  I just use plastic cups and go slowly.  Prod the fibre to make sure the colour is all the way through.  You can space your variegations as widely as you want, but try to be a bit even (or not if you prefer).  Keep a little bit of each dye aside to fill gaps and touch up.

Add the second colour next to and slightly overlapping the first.  The overlap creates some blending and ensures that there is no undyed areas.  Of course, you might want some white left in there and that is fine too.

Add your last colour and again overlap, prod and massage to fill gaps.

I then flip it all over.  You may not need to do this, but I always dye large quantities so flip it all over to double check.  Use the extra dye that you have held back to reinforce your colour and fill gaps.  Set aside and allow to batch for a few hours.  I find it useful to wrap this in cling wrap so that the dyes don’t dry out while I batch.  That way if you don’t get back to it for a while the dye remains moist.  It also means that the colours don’t cross infect each other by accidental contact while reacting.

Once you are happy with the colours and have left them for a few hours, rinse out the excess dye and soak in hot water until the colour stops running and your water runs clear.  Hang to dry.

Here is my finished sample.  I will have photos of other colourways on facebook and they will all be loaded on the web in good time.  What do you think?

 

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18 responses

18 09 2011
kate tremul

I love this Cecile I recently bought a product called hot ribbon could I redye this do you think as I would love to make some multi coloured ??
cheers
kt n critters

18 09 2011
uniquestitching

Kate I think the hot ribbon is synthetic and will be harder to dye. You can create a variegated effect with transparant paints like the Dye Na Flow though

18 09 2011
kate tremul

soda ash is what ??
I bought some purple carrots at markets and saved the juice wow !! great colour also boiled up the skins after peeling and that gave great colour also

18 09 2011
uniquestitching

Soda ash is a pool cleaning product which you can get from major hardware or pool shops. It is the mordant or reactor for Procion dyes. Your carrot juice will be gorgeous, but natural dyes are often acidic. However that does not mean we should not use them. Play play play

18 09 2011
Joy Vale

Love the finished colours – amazing how dark they look when the dye is applied then turn out so beautiful. Something I must put on my ‘to do list’.

18 09 2011
uniquestitching

Joy
it is like when our hair is wet, it is darker than dry. the other aspect is the quality of my photography. I dye a lot, every day, so I know what certain amounts of dye will do and that comes with practice. I love the soft finish of these. Some of the others are wild hot and strong.

18 09 2011
Lesley

I love how subtle the colors are. I dyed some fabric and laces several years ago, but i think I have just been inspired to get dyeing again! Thankyou

18 09 2011
uniquestitching

terrrific Lesley. Dyeing is great and you can create the most amazing finishes. Let me know if you need any further motivation!

18 09 2011
Kel

Oh how I want play time lol!

Your instructions are so clear, thank you 🙂

19 09 2011
uniquestitching

thank you for the comment. I try to be clear and concise. Dyeing is really exceptionally easy, just often daunting. You got to dive right in!

18 09 2011
kate tremul

Thanks for that where do I get Dye Na Flow ??
will you have some at the bris quilt show ???

19 09 2011
uniquestitching

Hi Kate yes I will have the Dye Na Flow in Brisbane. I can talk to you about what to do then if you like.

19 09 2011
Lyn

Wow ! So simple. Is the finished sample the same as the pieces being shown in the step by step photos ? They just look so much paler and different.

19 09 2011
uniquestitching

Well thanks Lynne. Yes, as you know it is very simple. and yes, they are exactly the same samples. the photos were all taken at different times, the last one has the flash on, so that may have made a little difference to the colour, but wet anything is always darker than dry. By the way, you probably should know that your dyeman isp comes up everytime you leave a comment here.

19 09 2011
Judy

Hi Cecile, I just wanted to thank you for your generous sharing of methods and results it is so appreciated. regards,
Judy

19 09 2011
uniquestitching

thanks Judy. I want this blog to be about information and ideas – our educational arm so to speak so keep checking back if you are not subscribed because I will keep adding lots more as I go. Cecile

19 09 2011
kate tremul

yep that would be great Cecile as i will be at your stall all day on the
saturday so maybe, just maybe, you will have time between courses .. We did a workshop in at Bundaberg quilters arty fartys on saturday .. Dye transfer. painting the dye onto A3 sheets of photocopy paper then onto synthetic fabrics , then laying low relief leaves etc and doing a second and then 3rd colour moving the plants a fraction to create a shadow effect in all three colours plus blended colours as the three colours used met and mingled . I love it esp the result on velvet. So will be looking for those dyes also .
Getting closer. I will be there again sunday after lunch to have a good look around and to collect all Bundy quilts that have been entered. Can’t wait .
cheers
kt n critters xxxx

29 09 2011
Marie Holly

Hi Cecile tried this with fabric – lovely also the “mud”

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