confessions of a fabric obsessive

I’ve been dyeing…

…but only a little bit.

Ages ago I rescued an old wooden clothes airer. I stripped off the disintegrating webbing “hinges” so that I could clean up the wooden frames, replace the webbing and have a new clothes airer. Simple job, you might think, but I wanted the new webbing hinges to be pink (I had to make it complicated!).

Can you buy pink cotton webbing? Not online, and not in the shops.

I already had white cotton webbing, so I thought, “Ah, I’ll get a pack of pink dye and dye some of the white webbing pink”. In theory it should have been easy, just follow the instructions and I’ll have some great colour webbing. While I’m at it, I could drop in a few other white cotton things and have them bright pink as well.

When I was a teenager I used to dye fabric  (mostly t- shirts and jeans) quite often. Mum wouldn’t let me dye them in the washing machine, so I got to be a dab hand at dyeing by hand.

Cotton absorbs dye really easily and takes the colour quite strongly: most synthetic fibres don’t.

This is the colour of the dye I bought, flamingo pink. (I don’t do things by halves. If I’m having pink, I’m having bright pink!)

According to the instructions, one pack would dye up to 250g of cotton to the full colour, so I worked through my stash, picking out cotton trimming and cotton fabric to make up to the 250g weight limit.

I followed the instructions, stirred and stirred for the first 15 minutes, and then every now and again for an hour.

This is what I got:

See that pale pink wide webbing at the back? I was sold that as 100% cotton. Needless to say, it isn’t. If it had been it would now be the same colour as the narrower stuff.

There’s another length of white tape (not in the photo) that is still white. I was sold that as 100% cotton too. It’s so white after the full time in the dye solution, it can’t possibly have any cotton in it at all. In fact it’s so incredibly day-glo white that I didn’t even put it in the photo.

Cross isn’t the word. Well actually cross is the word, along with very.

Having paid a premium for 100% cotton, I find out that it’s actually less than 50% (in the case of the wide) and  0% cotton (in the case of the un-photographed).

Then I panicked that the twill tape that I am selling on Ebay and Etsy at the moment might not be cotton after all, so I dropped some in the used dye solution just to check. It’s fine, it didn’t take up as much colour in the same time as the 100% cotton tape in the first batch, but it did colour up and I’m satisfied that what I’m selling as cotton is cotton. Phew!

I’m not going to go into dyeing as an extension of my sewing (with natural dyes or tie-dyeing), but it is nice to know that I can still do it fairly easily, and that if I really want a colour that I can’t buy anywhere dyeing it myself will be fairly simple (although I did google “hand-dyeing” for this post and found some really interesting blogs and started following Nancy Guchte’s hand-dyeing board on Pinterest and Wild Onion‘s blog).

Back to my clothes airer refurb. Almost finished but I need to hammer the tacks in and it’s too late (I’m writing this in the wee small hours of Thursday night, as usual for a Friday post) because my neighbours need their sleep.

I’m glad I took the time and effort to dye the webbing pink for the hinges. It looks exactly how I wanted it too. It will be displaying some of my quilts, eventually, as well as my laundry!

Happy Claire Bear

3 responses to “I’ve been dyeing…

  1. diannajessie March 17, 2012 at 15:48

    I want to start Dyeing fabric too – it looks like such fun!

    • Handmade by Claire Bear March 17, 2012 at 17:23

      It was, and I’m having to be firm with myself to resist dyeing more.

      • Marilyn June 11, 2012 at 06:06

        I have used over dyed floss and I really like it ~ however one of my current projects I am doing on hand dyed fabric and it’s great! And of course I have been eyeballing some other hand dyed fabric at my LNS! Since you are absolutely right about being able to dye the fabric without having to buy it :~)

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