Thursday, 23 August 2012

Dyeing Masterclass

 I've been to a dyeing masterclass at the Festival of Quilts, and had a wonderful three days dyeing fabrics an amazing variety of colours.  We used both high water and low water methods, and the only problem about doing such a course at the NEC was the lack of hot running water in the 'virtual' studio we were working in.  I ended up with an intimate acquaintance with the painter's cupboard.

One of the most interesting exercises we did was to do some some family dyeing - dyeing fabrics light, medium and dark shades in one colour, then overdyeing in a second colour.  You can see here the results (at the top) of dyeing Silko (a silk/cotton mix) first brown, and then acid lemon.  A friend had some cotton in the same dye bath, and her brown really was brown, not a burgundy colour as mine.

The second set was using cotton, and dyeing first in acid lemon, then in purple.  I'm not sure the photos do justice to the lovely shades that resulted.
Then I did an exercise I had wanted to do for some time.  I dyed 8 different fabrics in the same dye bath, in this case a red that was half scarlet and half magenta.  You can see how differently the fabrics accepted the dye!  The top 4 are all cottons, then a silk, then two silk/cotton mixes, then finally silk velvet.

Then we moved onto tray dyeing, long lengths of fabric (pre soaked in soda ash) finger pleated into trays then dye added using squeezee bottles.  I didn't use enough dye first time round, so on the left you see the results from tray1, with the two fabrics on the right then rolled around wooden skewers and overdyed in purple.  On the right is the results from tray 2, all of which were put back into a tray and over dyed with more, similar, coloured dyes.

Then we played with clamps and resists.  Here's most
of my results.  All of them have been overdyed a
second time, and some of them need overdying again.
In general I have to say I prefer the simple methods of
scrunching and twisting, to the more complicated
ones of folding and clamping with acrylic

My favourite two results are the turquoise and brown one (middle top row) which was simply scrunched, dyed in turquoise, then rinsed, rescrunched and overdyed in brown; and the middle one of the second row which was twisted and dyed in acid lemon, then rolled round a piece of string diagonally from one corner, then the string was pulled up and tied so that it looked like a doughnut, then overdyed in indigo.

My least favourites are the final two - maybe it's the orange I used!  The frustrating thing is that these two are the largest pieces I did - suggestions please.


  1. You must have learned so much in the class, not just from your results but by seeing the results of others as well. I have also been playing with overdyeing with a complementary colour, and the colours created are subtle and complex. They don't necessarily show that well in a photo but are really very compelling. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. so enticing - hope the fabrics look as gorgeous as the photos

  3. I saw the cupboard - it can't have been an easy way to dye!
    The fabrics look great and I'm really envious, Jo's work is fantastic.

    As for the orange - how about more dye - something with a red cast to reduce the glare of the orange?

  4. You can add more layers to the orange fabrics by stamping, screen printing or the opposite remove some of the color.

  5. Gorgeous fabrics! I have been having lots of fun with ice dyeing. I am seriously addicted.

  6. Wonderful research! What a difference in the fabrics for saturation of colour!

  7. Linda, you have obviously had such a wonderful time - and you were walking around with a grin on your face the whole time! Hope you find The inspiration to use these great fabrics.