Saturday, 9 August 2008

Modems, dyeing and blocks

The last few days have been pretty hectic, I'll tell you why in a minute. First of all I have to thank my brother for the fact that I can be on the computer at all today. Our ISP, in their wisdom, offered me an upgrade a couple of weeks ago and, without thinking about it too much, I agreed. That was the easy bit. The hard part was installing a new modem and setting up the wireless bit for the laptop! I knew it was going to be beyond me and fortunately my brother offered to come over and sort it all out for us. Today was the day - pretty lucky really because I only asked him this morning and he rang up just before lunch to say he was on his way! I think he might have regretted took ages to get the kinks out of my laptop! Actually, don't tell him, it was just my way of getting him to stay a bit longer lol!! I have to apologise to my sister-in-law though. She was hoping to go to the local Superstore but they ran out of time. Sorry C! (I was a bit slow there. Us girls could have gone shopping and left the guys to it!!) Anyway, thank you very much D for sorting us out, again! :o)
The last two days I've been to a workshop at the sewing shop in town. Unfortunately the course was so hectic that I didn't get chance to take many photos. On Thursday we were dyeing fabric using Procion dyes. I don't expect to be massively into dyeing but I wanted to learn a bit about it to try and de-mystify the process. The only photo I managed to take was of the fabric sitting in all of the bags "cooking".

As you can see I worked with colours I don't tend to use normally. The whole process was really quite simple and was done in a dye run so that all the amounts were controlled so that there was a smooth colour run from yellow through orange to magenta. We started with 7 bags, each prepared individually and the fabric put in with the dye, salt solution, soda solution and water and the bag sealed before the next bag was filled. As we wanted a random dye, not a flat colour, we tried not to handle the fabric too much, just tipped the bag to make sure it was all wetted. Once the fabric had been in the bag for about 2 hours we put a second piece in, expecting to get a lighter effect.
After a minimum period of 4 hours a lot of rinsing, washing and more rinsing followed and eventually, once dried and ironed, the beauty of the fabric was revealed:

I am really pleased with the gorgeous colours and marks in this cotton which was the first batch.

The second batch are much softer and more in the pastel range but are equally lovely. (You may have noticed that I had 8 bags - I used up the left over dye on the final 2 pieces of cotton). I have to say, if I do this at home I will probably spread the process over a couple of days as it was exhausting doing it all at once. You can actually leave cotton overnight in the dye and it won't come to any harm. Also you can make up the salt and soda solutions in advance and they will keep.
Yesterday we went back for day 2 which was to make use of the dyed fabric. Thursday was a steep learning curve but yesterday was even steeper! The idea was to use the fabric to make a bag or wall hanging. The technique we are using is "Mile a Minute" blocks. I am not a patchworker so I hadn't a clue what this was. I know now! Fortunately it's a great method of piecing blocks! No accuracy required, no measuring just lots of strips cut and sewn. I think I'll try and put the whole process on here in a day or two as I'm still working on it but here's a glimpse of blocks in progress till then for those of you who aren't familiar with "mile a minute".

It's a bit like sewing bunting. The red square is the central square. You gradually build up the blocks till you reach the size you want (in this case 4.5 inch squares). As you can see they all grow in different shapes. Conformity comes when you square the blocks off and cut to size.
I'm aiming for a bag, if I can remember how to do it. I had to leave early so had 2 hours of tuition in 10 minutes! I've given myself the goal of having it made for the Festival of Quilts on Thursday! It'll never happen! lol
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Lesley said...

Your brother is such a star!!

I live the dyed fabrics you made and your bag is going to look lovely. I have absolute faith that you will get it finished for Thursday!!


Guzzisue said...

I'm sure it will be finished on time

sharon young said...

Great start, lovely colours, can't wait to see the next instalment of this process.
And the finished bag of course.

Robin Mac said...

I love the idea of the dyeing in plastic bags, and I love the colours you have. I recently learned to dye with Landscape dyes - great for silk, wool and mohair. I used the microwave and had great results, none of the long process of rinsing with Landscape dyes either. I shall have a go at cottons with procion dyes sometime soon - all good fun.
Cheers, Robin

artisbliss said...

These are the colors that make me happiest, especially when they're all bunched together! I must do some dyeing soon for upcoming fiber pieces.

Anonymous said...

Hi, would you like a tip? You've probably heard of synthrapol or manutex, which is marketed as a washing product to help remove dye in the rinsing? It's actually very much more and instead of the usual standing there rinsing for an hour, all you do is wash the majority of the dye out with a couple of rinses, then run a hot sink of water with about a teaspoon of synthrapol and soak the fabric for 10 to 20 minutes. Then rub it about a bit. Tip out the water and cold rinse until clear. Speeds things up no end. I've been dyeing fabric for about 10 years and have only just discovered this. Doh! lol Annabel aka the wittering rainbow