dyeing · Textiles

Dye Printing on Fabric

While making a mood board of my core style I realised how much I love the look of handmade patterns on my clothing. So, I’m focusing on creating fabrics and designs with handmade marks this summer.
Some designs that inspire me are hand-block prints like these beauties on cotton Khadi (seen at Merchant and Mills).

Hand blocked prints from Merchant and Mills

I also love these hand printed fabrics from Alabama Chanin’s latest collection.
3 prints from Alabama Chanin
They look like ink on paper but they’re printed on their signature cotton jersey.
I’m working on my first Alabama Chanin style jersey embroidered clothes, this summer, but I’ll post about that next time.

Using Dye to Print

Today I want to tell you about my experiments, so far, with rough and ready dyeing and printing.
This is a picture of jersey I printed with the end of a dowel, cold-water dye, and water. This sample is still wet and it is how I would like it to look when it is rinsed and dried.

dyeing cotton

 I like some of the marks sharp, and some to bleed and have soft edges. I achieved this by dropping water spots on to my fabric with a pipette, letting them sink and spread a bit and then dropping dye into the wet spots. Sometimes, I go back in and drop more water in, so that the spot spreads a bit.
Using a pipette to drop dye
This would work well with silk, where I can then roll and steam the result. But how do I make this work with cotton, where the fabric really needs to be submerged to set and rinse the dye?
These results were a bit disappointing, as they faded and became pretty indistinct when washed.
faded fabric samples
I have since bought some media to hold the print marks.
spot making
I mixed a little of this media in with the dye. I dropped water into some of the spots to encourage softer edges.
water droplets in dye
The marks were given 12 hours to set.  I think even longer would have been better. I then rinsed the fabric and washed out the gummy, whitish media. This is how they looked after they were dried.
Dried print and overdyed fabric
On the left they have been overdyed. This is closer to the look I was after. I now want to play with this technique more.
dyed and printed fabrics

Cottage Bits and Bobbins

This morning I had a half hour naked swim at dawn and then we spotted an owl sitting in a tree overlooking  our garden. Still no rain storms!

6 thoughts on “Dye Printing on Fabric

  1. Keep experimenting. I set up the indigo vat in y year. I may try the eye dropper test with it. Naked swimming is the best!

  2. Very interesting, I love the look of hand dyed or block printed fabric where it’s not all exact and identical

  3. If you want to go back to the fiber reactive dye experiments, there are ways to help the fabric hold the dye. First, soak cotton in a mixture of 1/4 cup soda ash (or Arm and Hammer soda wash) in a gallon of water. Let the fabric dry. (Don’t do this with silk because the alkaline is too harsh and silk generally is easier to dye.) Then apply the dye. Next, wrap the fabric in plastic and let they dye it sit on the fabric for a few hours up to overnight. The goal is to keep the dye damp (hence the plastic wrapping). Then you wash and rise the fabric. Good luck!

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