Dyeing some fabric for a new quilt!

I’m taking a class on a french braid quilt at Judy’s Sewing and Vacuum, and the sample I wanted to follow had a lot of reds and blacks. However, I love batiks, and there just weren’t enough strong blacks (and varied reds) for me to make a whole quilt from. Thinking I would mix in some hand-dyed fabric, I grabbed all the blank cotton I had and did some scrunched immersion dyeing using Dharma’s Fire Red (pinker), Chinese Red (oranger), New Black (bluer), and Jet Black (warmer).

I dyed a total of ~1.5 yards in 1/4 yard x 22″ (8) and 1/4 yard x 44″ (2) pieces. I made a batch of 8 cups (half gallon) soda ash mix with 1/4 cup salt and 1/6 cup soda ash, which was just right for my dye method. I used ~1-1.5 tsp of dye per 6 oz of fluid. Some dye did not dissolve well, especially fire red which has a tendency to float, which was WAY TOO CONCENTRATED!!! I could have probably used half the amount of dye per water, a note to myself.

I found a few things:

  1. I didn’t dye nearly enough fabric, not of any color or together
  2. It was REALLY hard to mix this fabric with any others, even my existing batiks. I just could not satisfy myself after 3 hours of sampling fabrics and layouts
  3. Folding before dying, or haveing two pieces side-by-side made some super cool reflective pieces (V’s) for the quilt, which I wanted to preserve

Last weekend, I dyed TEN. MORE. YARDS. I haven’t taken many photos of it, though, which was my bad. I did a mix of larger scrunch immersion cup batches (1/2 yard pieces, 2 at a time) using the same amount of dye. It took 3 batches of the soda ash mix from above (keep it fresh to keep it warm). For about 1/3 of the fabric, I also did tie-dye scrunch submersion dye, just a different scrunch technique that would give me more regular dye patterning across the whole piece rather than a gradient from one end to another. I’ll have more pictures of the second batch of fabric to come!


I wonder if it was the fabric I used (it was a white, high-quality cotton muslin), but even though I washed it to remove any sizing, it was incredibly hard to get the vibrancy of the first batch. Even when there was excess dye, even when there was lots of heat, even when left to batch for less time or more time, I couldn’t quite get there. (I even overdyed the pieces I felt were way too sparse/weak with different parameters trying to get better results. No luck). Lesson: just get fabric to dye from Dharma.

I did manage to salvage enough to cut enough fabric for the quilt. I’m in the process of cutting all the pieces and assembling them, since each pair of V’s and each panel for the french braid quilt will be unique.

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