Category Archives: dyeing


The “reveal” – is what they call it on those DIY TV shows. Here are the results of my snow dyeing experiment a few days ago.  Dyes, applied in powder form, liquify slowly as the ice melts creating unpredictable patterns with soft blends between the colors. The scrunched fabric below the dye powder and ice has hills and valleys. Colors concentrate as they pool in a valley or have a lesser effect where they roll off a raised portion of fabric. I waited (in suspense) for the requisite 24 hours, then rinsed out excess dye, machine washed, and ironed the fabric.

The powdered dyes in the first tub, with a piece of fabric about 45″ square, were Havana Brown, Orange and Yellow. You can see olive green in the fabric because the brown dye was a composite color that separated into the component colors, one of which was bluish. Blue + yellow = green. This fabric reminds me of geraniums.

snow dye in warm colors









Colors in the second tub, with two pieces of fabric, were Robin’s Egg Blue, Cyan Blue, and Black. Black was a composite color that had some reddish tones, so you see some purples in the resulting fabric. The larger piece of fabric is about 45″ square. The second photo shows the small piece of fabric laid atop the larger one and gives a hint about what it would look like if the fabric would be cut into segments and pieced back together.

snow dye cool colors

snow dye two pieces


Snow Dyeing

It is hovering just above freezing in Ohio today. As I watched the waning snow I knew there was still enough for a batch of snow-dyed fabric. I knew I had all the ingredients on hand, but I did do a quick check online to review instructions. Dharma had instructions and did too.

I had about a yard and a half of PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) white cotton fabric.
I tore it in half and set it to soak for 1/2 hour in soda ash solution. I have two white plastic dishpans and 2 grids made from salvaging the sides from a damaged laundry basket. I scrunched the soda-ash soaked fabric, arranging it on the plastic grids which I elevated within the dishpans. I brought snow in and put a 3″ layer of it over the fabric. Wearing mask and gloves, I scooped dry Procion dye powders out of their containers with a plastic spoon and sprinkled dye over the snow – three colors in each dishpan full of fabric. I wrapped black plastic garbage bags around each dishpan. Now I wait… 24 hours until I can peek. Then I’ll rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, heat set and enjoy my “new” fabric. I did not take pictures, but here is an illustration from the instructables website.
I’ll post my dried and ironed fabric results in a few days.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Fun vs Functional

Here are some results from last Saturday’s Dye Party and the days after spent rinsing, washing, and overdyeing. The question on my mind after the pure fun of dyeing fabrics in a sociable group setting is “Now, how can I USE this?” I have spent hours before falling asleep pondering this. The FUN, exciting stuff — spirals and bursts of color and fabrics with high contrasts of dark and light are hardest to use. I will collage and draw on top of this contrasty stuff.

tie dye spiral

tie dye spiral


tie dye starburst




black / brown overdye on blue / yellow

Much more FUNCTIONAL are the single color (grey, lavender, yellow-green) pieces and gently graduated two-color pieces.  (The yellow- green is behind the starburst fabric in the first photo.)

I did two overdyes to change contrasty fabric to more calm and useful.

Two pictures show the black/brown overdye on a “spotty” blue & yellow dyed fabric.

When I took this out of the second dyebath, it looked solid black. It was fun to see the blues and yellows gradually emerge as I rinsed out the excess overdye color.

two solid greys

two solid greys



before / after overdye

Garbage and Imagination

I’m getting ready for a dyeing party on Saturday with fellow Ohio fiber artists who are members of Studio Art Quilt Associates. I had purchased white dishpans from the Dollar Store a few days ago. I gathered the Procion dye powders, face mask, gloves, plastic spoons that I already have from previous dyeing adventures. I’ve mixed up a soda ash solution to begin treating the fabric that I will dye. I’ll dye that really ugly cloth that I can’t help but improve, white on white cotton yardage and jacquard table linens. If I can get out of my driveway to get to a store, I’ll buy bleached muslin and white tee shirts too.

I checked the internet for instructions on ice or snow dyeing, a way to use fiber reactive procion dyes that I have not yet tried. Dharma has a  succinct summary of the process: Based on the instructions, I realized that I need racks to elevate the fabric within the dishpans. Hmmm…time to get creative. I recalled my college art professor’s mantra, “Garbage is the failure of imagination.”

I had dragged my boxes of dyeing supplies across the snow from the place they were stored to my house by using  a damaged plastic laundry basket and a length of rope as a sled. The sides of the laundry basket were a grid. With a bit of measuring, marking with a Sharpie, and a carton knife, I shaped the basket sides into racks to fit in the dishpans. The racks rest on inverted deli containers, which position them about two inches below the top and three inches above the bottom within the dishpans. I felt so clever, I took pictures. My college professor would be so proud.