Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Adventures in Over Dyeing

If you've been following along you know that my intention earlier this week was to cut out the Armistice Blouse from Folkwear Patterns.  However, as I laid out my fabric, I discovered that it had a regular pattern of fade marks along the lines on which it had been folded.  This stopped me in my tracks for that day and left me pondering what to do to save the fabric.  I decided to try overdying.

You might be curious as to why I refer to the process as "overdyeing" and not just "dyeing".  When dyeing a fabric or garment one usually starts out with unpigmented cloth, or removes the dyes already present through a chemical process.  With overdyeing, you just dye over whatever is already there.  This process can be somewhat random in its results - you never know quite what you're going to get.  Now, my fabric was pretty much ruined, so what harm could be done?  Right?

And, what about environmental harm, or human hazard from using the product?  Well, I consulted the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the product to be sure.  According to the MSDS, the main hazards would be by inhalation or ingestion of the product, or to those with skin sensitivity to any of the ingredients if the chemicals were not properly washed out of the fabric.  The product contains no known carcinogens.  It does contain surfactants, which are a known environmental hazard, hence extra dilution should take place prior to discarding the solution.  While using the product, I never handled it directly in any way, and I took care not to inhale the powder.  All of that said, dyeing is not something I do frequently, due to potential for unreported hazards. 

When I do dye, I try to do multiple items to minimize waste.  This time I had my faded stash fabric (the fading is slightly visible in this photo),

The top from the T shirt I used in the T Shirt Upcycle (I promised at the time that I'd do something with the remaining portion of the shirt),

and the other panel from the curtain I used in the T Shirt Upcycle project, thinking that perhaps I could use it in the next project as well. 

The curtain panel is made of a synthetic material, so it's uncertain how much, if any, dye it will absorb.  I'm in an experimental mood, how about you?

As you can see above, I'm using Pearl Grey dye.  This happens to be a box I had on hand, but I think the color might look nice with the flowers on my ruined fabric, and, it may end up appearing more period (Edwardian) correct than the original fabric.

Next, I assembled my supplies:
  • Dye Packet and Instructions
  • Bucket and measuring utensils not used for food prep
  • Detergent (1 Tablespoon)
  • Salt (1 cup)
  • Vinegar (2 Tablespoons)
  • HOT water (2 cups plus 3 gallons)

I dissolved the dye powder in two cups of very hot water.

In the 3 gallon plastic bucket of very hot water I dissolved 1 cup salt,

1 Tablespoon of generic laundry detergent,

and 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar.  The vinegar was not called for in the package instructions, but vinegar is great at setting colors - the Ostara (Easter) Bunny uses it, and I can't think of any more glowing testimonial!  Next, I added the dissolved dye to the larger bucket with the salt, detergent and vinegar.

The next step was to add my fabrics.  These were wetted in plain warm water prior to being added to the dye bath.

Once all the fabrics were added, the stirring began.  I stirred the fabrics in the dye bath for about 20 minutes.  The instructions on the box indicate that the longer the materials remain in the dye bath, the darker the color result would be.  The instructions recommended keeping the materials in contact with the dye for up to 30 minutes.

Once the time had elapsed, I poured the entire bucket, water and all into the washer, and washed the materials to remove any excess dye. 

I'll be sure to let you know how this all turned out in an upcoming post after everything is dry!  Please stop back to find out what color the Armistice Blouse is going to be!  And, as always, your questions and comments on this process are always welcome!

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