Guest Post: Dye your Opulent Monsters fabric!

Jun 3rd 2015

Hi! My name is Kayla Anne and I am the owner of Toodie Oodies Kids Shop! Today I am going to be sharing a couple of awesome and fun dye techniques. I - LOVE - DYEING! Each and every piece is truly one of a kind and, with Opulent Monsters AMAZING black and white printed cotton/lycra fabrics, dyeing is not only fun, but a DREAM. These fabrics are top quality, premium, cotton fabrics that take dye beautifully. It was seriously a breeze dyeing these fabrics up, and a pleasure of mine. A little bit about me and my dyeing journey: I have been “day camp dyeing” for about 15 years. “Day camp dyeing” is my funny way of saying beginner tie dyer, taking you back to the days of summer day camp tie dyeing camp t-shirts in big plastic buckets. I have since graduated to bigger and better techniques over the past 5 years and am sharing with you today 2 of my very favorite techniques in hopes that you will learn and grow in your dyeing journeys! Keep in mind it has taken me YEARS to “perfect” these techniques (and I use “perfect” loosely because really, its all sheer dumb luck in my case), and even the most seasoned dyer can take some time to develop the correct cadence to make each and every piece have beautiful (and intentional) results. Just have fun! Okay, let's just dive in.

A little bit on color. Let's remember our color wheel. Red, Yellow, and Blue are our PRIMARY colors. Green, Purple, and Orange are our SECONDARY colors. Blue, Purple, and Green are our COOL colors and Red, Yellow, and Orange are our WARM colors. When dyeing following the rules of color are ESSENTIAL to getting the result you desire. Mixing colors that are OPPOSITE on the color wheel will create what I like to call “mud”…. basically these colors neutralize each other and create brown. So when dyeing, be sure if you are going to use colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel that you take extra care that they do not cross each other or you will create mud. I have an example for you that I’ve prepared to show you what I’m talking about.

Muddy” - Happens when colors opposite of the color wheel mix together, essentially “neutralizing” each other and creating a brownish muddy tone.

Dyeing with Procion Fiber Reactive Dyes from Dharma*

I always recommend using Procion Fiber Reactive Dharma dyes when dyeing natural fibers (cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc.). They are professional grade, stable, and very reliable. These are dyes that come in powder form and need to be mixed via the company’s specific instruction. Failure to mix dyes properly can result in undesired results (lighter/darker shade, spotting, etc.) Also you will need 3 additional products, Synthrapol detergent (removes excess oils in pre washing fabrics and remaining dyes in final washing fabrics), soda ash fixer (sets the dye in the fabric), and (optional) urea (a chemical that keeps procion dyes moist). Procion Fiber Reactive dyes are chemicals and need to be treated like chemicals! Gloves, protective eyewear, and dust masks should always be used and keep them out of reach of children! Everything you need to get started can be purchased from The Dharma Trading Company’s website.

Confetti/Sprinkle Dye

The “confetti” or “sprinkle” dye technique is a super fun dyeing technique that creates a cool speckled effect on fabric. When using the right tool you can literally “sprinkle” the dyeonto prepared fabric and get a very unique design, and each and every piece is one of a kind. Something in my experience that I’ve found to be really neat is using only one of dharma’s premixed colors at a time, and when doing so you can see individual color granules in the design… It appears like you’ve used several different colors! It really is a fun technique, and when using different variables (such as very wet fabric vs very dry fabric) you can get a lot of different effects. You can even use a tool such as a paint brush to swirl the dye after sprinkling to create endless designs. Okay now that I’ve told you what it is, lets get our stuff together and try it!

What you need:

- Fabric that has been pre washed in Synthrapol detergent and soaked in soda ash fixer for at least a half hour (depending on how much fabric you are dyeing, soak in the recommended amount per fabric weight) and hung until almost dry (more on that in a bit).

  • Procion Fiber Reactive dyes in one or more shades (probably shouldn’t do anymore than 3 at a time, also more on that later).
  • Gloves, protective eye wear, dust mask, apron to protect clothing
  • Mesh tea strainer, spice shaker (like a salt and pepper shaker), or anything else that has little holes that you can use to sprinkle dye onto the fabric (bigger holes = larger design/sprinkles, smaller holes = smaller design/sprinkles… get it?)
  • Plastic spoon
  • Spray bottle prepared with water and soda ash fixer OR urea (not both!!) I personally do not use urea, I use soda ash in my spray bottle however urea would work in this case to keep the fabric and dye moist. Its a personal preference I suppose.
  • Large open area without heavy drafts, somewhere where fabric can sit flat for a while undisturbed by pets and children

Steps:

  • Taking your prepared fabric, find an open area to lay it out flat. I did mine outside and used a plastic folding table that I didn’t care if it got stained by the dye or not. (NOTE: This dye will basically stain any porous surface in comes into contact with, especially WOOD, it is recommended to have a prepared “dye station” where anything and everything around it is free game to get stained. Accidents happen. Ask me how I know this ;) )
    • Kind of a side note here. Depending on the end result you are looking for you may want your prepared fabric to be wetter or dryer. If you want your end result to be very speckled looking you want your fabric to be just slightly damp. If you want your speckles to run together and look almost water colored you will want your fabric to be on the wetter side (not dripping but almost). I’ve done both for you so you can see what I’m talking about. Both are equally impressive looking.
  • Prepare your dye. Using a plastic spoon, spoon a small amount of powder dye into your mesh tea strainer or other tool you are using for sprinkling. I used a metal mesh tea strainer, so I put a small amount of dye in the strainer and, using my finger, tapped the strainer lightly over the fabric to make very small amounts of powder to come out and fall onto the fabric. The harder you tap the more dye will come out. Depending on how you want your design to look you can tap harder or lighter, using fluid motions over your fabric a few times. Less is more here. Depending on how wet your fabric is you may need to stop and wait to see how the fabric absorbs and spreads into the fabric before adding more. It takes kind of a learning curve so I recommend doing it on small pieces of fabric first so you can get an idea of how the dye will behave. Also if you know you are using more than one color, don’t completely cover the piece with the first color, leave a little space for other colors. Also another thing to keep in mind, you can always always add more but you can never remove dye once its been put onto the fabric. Take your time. Some dyes (those that contain yellow) will be harder to sprinkle than others due to its nature. Take extra care with these colors and not to sprinkle too much on accident by shaking/tapping your tool too hard to get the dye out. Dyes that contain red are the opposite, they come out very fast.

  • Once you have applied the dye and have the desired effect the dye needs to sit and process. This technique depends on a damp surface in order to get the desired effect so spraying the fabric down periodically is key. Don’t spray too much or else your “sprinkles” will run together. This can actually create a really cool effect and I do this often (see photo, you can see the colors “bleeding”), even so much as to hang the fabric at an angle so the water can drip a little… But if you do not want this effect spray sparingly and as far away from the fabric as possible (think spraying up into the air so that the mist falls onto the fabric instead od directly at the fabric)

  • The longer the fabric sits the more intense the colors will be. I like to leave my fabric to sit for 12 hours or more. If you are in a warmer climate or are in a temperature controlled area, crank the heat and the fabric will process faster. If you are in a cold area (like outside or in a garage) you may need more time.
  • Once fabric has sat and processed its time to rinse. Rinsing can be tricky, especially if you have a lot of white left on your fabric (like I did). Hopefully you are using premium fabrics, because lesser quality fabrics will hang onto any blue colors you are using and the fabric will have an overall blue tinge to it. Its hard to know which fabrics are going to do this, so I guess cross your fingers. With GLOVES ON, rinse that fabric in the COLDEST water possible. Cold water will tighten up those natural fibers and seal the color into the processed ones and seal out any unwanted color that hasn’t been touching it (like parts you’ve intentionally kept un-dyed). Rinse, rinse, rinse until that water runs clear baby.
  • Wash fabric on HOT in your washing machine using Synthrapol detergent. This special detergent will remove any excess dye from your fabric.
  • Dry fabric, remove from dryer, unfold and marvel at your beautiful creation. Cut it up, sew into something awesome, and SHOW ME!!! :)

Wasn’t that fun? Lets do marble dye next!!

Marble/Swirl Dye

Marble dyeing is probably one of the MOST FUN dye techniques I know how to do. It is a little labor intensive but creates a result that really brings out the ooohs, ahhhhs, and wows. The way I do this technique is with shaving cream to create my “marbling size”. A marbling size is a suspension mixture to which your marbling dye floats on. And the way it works is you lay the fabric right onto the size, where the design is then printed onto it! Pretty cool huh? Lets get started.

What you need:

  • Fabric that has been pre washed in Synthrapol detergent and soaked in soda ash fixer for at least a half hour (depending on how much fabric you are dyeing, soak in the recommended amount per fabric weight) and hung until almost dry.
  • Shaving cream (with aloe)
  • Gloves, protective eye wear, dust mask, apron to protect clothing
  • Plastic spoon(s)
  • Whisk
  • Color bottles (I used cheap-o mustard/ketchup bottles I found at walmart)
  • Plastic bowls, 2 sizes
  • Small cup for mixing dyes
  • Paper coffee filter or cheese cloth
  • Funnel
  • Large, flat, lipped container for marble size (I used the lid of a storage tote), big enough for your piece of fabric
  • Small stick, paint brush, something small and skinny to create the swirl pattern with
  • Optional: Urea. Urea is another chemical used in dyeing that keeps the dye wet. Procion dyes cannot process if they dry out. I don’t actually use this chemical as I’ve never had an issue with it, but I will tell you how it is used below.
  • Large open area, somewhere where fabric can sit flat for a while undisturbed by pets and children
    (SPECIAL NOTE….. Any tools used for dyeing should be labeled and only ever used for dyeing…. Tools like mixing bowls, whisks, spoons, etc should NEVER be incorporated [back] into your kitchen. Procion dyes are a chemical and can be poisonous.)

Steps:

Prepare your marbling size

  • In a large plastic bowl and using your whisk, mix your shaving cream with warm water until you get the consistency of cake batter. Its almost a 1 to 2 ratio (1 unit water to 2 units shaving cream). You can get a variety of effects if you mix the size with more water and make it a little more watery. The dye will sort of bleed together the wetter the size is.

  • Once you have your size mixed, pour it onto your flat, lipped surface. The surface needs a lip (I used the lid of a storage tote) because it will spread out and you need it to stay contained and not leak over. Pour it out and use your whisk or a spatula to spread it out even and flat.

  • Using a smaller bowl, mix up a smaller amount of shaving cream mixture of the SAME CONSISTENCY as your size. Set aside.
  • Using your small cup, put a small amount of hot water in it and take your dye and spoon desired amount of dye into the water and mix it up with the spoon. (Optional: Mix 1 tablespoon urea into the solution). Pour the mixed dye solution through the coffee filter or cheese cloth into your prepared shaving cream mixture and mix into the shaving cream until well mixed. The coffee filter/cheese cloth will catch any undissolved dye granules.
  • Using your funnel carefully pour dye mixture into your color bottle. Repeat for each color you are using.

  • With the color bottles, carefully squirt lines of the dye/shaving cream mix in the size in any pattern you choose. It doesn’t have to be lines, it can really be any design or pattern you want, but for the effect I’m going for, I am using parallel lines.
  • Take your tool (I use the back of an old tooth brush) and drag it through the design until you create your desired effect. I make straight lines through the colors one way, then cross way. Sometimes I’ll do it diagonally too. In the past I have done circular shapes and also random swirling. My favorite is the technique I am using today for you.

Laying fabric onto marbling size

  • Once you are happy with your pattern it is time to lay the prepared fabric onto it. Now, depending on how large your fabric piece is you may need help applying the fabric. Once the fabric is on, its on and you cannot move it, even if it has wrinkles or accidental pleats. If you move it, the fabric will take the design with it (ask me how I know this). Pre-pleating the fabric can make for additional cool end effects. I didn’t pre-pleat any fabric for my examples, but it is a trend you will see in fashion from time-to-time.
  • Once the fabric is laid onto the size use your fingers (WEAR GLOVES!) to smooth out any bubbles. Take your time doing this because even the most seasoned of marble dyer can miss some bubbles. (I have examples to show you what happens). To smooth out bubbles just gently press the fabric into the marble size. The goal is not to get rid of the air bubbles but rather just press the fabric onto the dye size so it will pick up the design. It may still bubble up but it will not effect the result if the fabric has picked up the design.

Here’s an example of part of the fabric that I didn’t smooth down correctly. See the circles where the design didn’t take? These are caused by the air bubbles I mentioned before and this will happen if you don’t press the fabric down into the dye.

Processing, rinsing, and finishing

  • Now it is time for the fabric to sit and process. The longer the fabric sits the more intense the colors will be. I like to leave my fabric to sit for 12 hours or more. If you are in a warmer climate or are in a temperature controlled area, crank the heat and the fabric will process faster. If you are in a cold area (like outside or in a garage) you may need more time.
  • Once fabric has sat and processed its time to rinse. With GLOVES ON, rinse that fabric in the COLDEST water possible. Cold water will tighten up those natural fibers and seal the color into the processed ones and seal out any unwanted color that hasn’t been touching it (like parts you’ve intentionally kept un-dyed). Rinse, rinse, rinse until that water runs clear baby.
  • Wash fabric on HOT in your washing machine using Synthrapol detergent. This special detergent will remove any excess dye from your fabric.
  • Dry fabric, remove from dryer, unfold and marvel at your beautiful creation. Cut it up, sew into something awesome, and SHOW ME!!! :)

And there you have it! Two incredibly fun, incredibly unique, new ways to dye up all your fantastic black and white natural fiber fabrics. I challenge you to head on over to the Opulent Monsters website and snatch up some awesome black and white cotton/lycra custom fabrics. I personally couldn’t pick a favorite, as both prints I was given for this project are AMAZING AND AWESOME. And you bet I’ll be buying more and more! I hope you’ll show your fantastic projects off in the Opulent Monsters sewing group, I know I would absolutely love to see them and Crystal would to! Now go! Dye all the things!! :)

*Opulent Monsters and Toodie Oodies Kids Shop are not associated with Dharma Trading.