50 Minus 42 Shades of Gray (and Yellow)

Thanks to Patty the quilt lady I’ve gotten in some fabric dyeing recently. Patty invited several folks over to her house for a dyeing session.  She had everything set to go, and even made each of us a spiral bound dyeing book complete with fabric samples!

yellow_gradientWith Patty’s help I dyed an eight step gradient of Procion golden yellow.  She had cleverly cut off the tops of gallon milk jugs and numbered them from 1 to 8.  This really helped keep track of the steps of the gradient as I increased the amount of dye in each jug.  And the handles are handy (groan) for carrying the jugs to the sink.

Here’s some lace of unknown fiber content that was dyed in the same milk jugs.

lace_gradientInspired by this session, two friends and I took on more dyeing by ourselves.  My friends worked on making an 8 step gray gradient while I tried fabric layering techniques from Gloria Loughman.  Apparently making gray is hard, and converting from metric measurements is even harder.  Thank goodness for Google.

gray_gradientThe gray looked kind of purplish in the buckets, except for the bucket sun yellow was added to (the fabric on the far right.)  The dots are woven into the fabric and create an intriguing effect.

Here are my results from two and three color dyeing with leaf green, turquoise, and sun yellow. First I gathered some fabric in a plastic trash can lid and squeezed dye from squirt bottles onto the fabric. Then I put some fabric in a hospital pan, added some green dye, layered more fabric on top, added turquoise, and finished with yellow.

3_color_dyemuslin1All but one of my fabrics were pre-soaked in a soda ash and salt solution.  And yes, the colors are much more intense on the soda ash soaked fabrics, even after allowing for differences in fabric.

with-without_soda_ash I used old damask tablecloth strips, high quality white muslin, low quality natural muslin (the kind with cotton boll flecks still in it,) and peach colored silk crepe.damask_detailsilk_crepeThe silk was bought by my seamstress grandmother who used it to make ladies’ delicates, so I figure it must be at least 55 years old. I tried to rip it by hand but it still seems strong.  It turns out I should have used a different type of dye as silk is a protein based fabric. My Procion dyes are designed for plant based fabrics (cotton, rayon, etc.)

Now all I have to do is figure out how to use all this fabric.

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