Monday 15 April 2013

Fabric experimentation

Have you seen the amazing things that Rossie does with fabric, dye and bleach?  Like this, and this and this.  All these posts made me start thinking about doing a bit of my own fabric manipulation.  I was put off by my lack of knowledge about how to actually go about dyeing or bleaching fabric (and the thought that to do it properly, I would need to make a big mess and invest in several products to properly set the dye or stop the bleach).

Then, I read this post by Sarah aka Narcoleptic in a Cupboard, which linked to this post about bleaching fabric by Elizabeth Hartman at Oh, Fransson!.  Well, that seemed like something I could do.

I had a fat quarter bundle of Indie from Art Gallery Fabrics that I have been wanting to use now that the weather is getting colder - the colours feel very autumnal to me.  I cut each fat quarter into two fat eighths, so that I had two fat eighth bundles.

Fabric experimentation

For bleaching, I mixed 6 litres of cold water with 750ml of household bleach (21.5 grams per litre sodium hydrochloride) in a plastic bucket.  I then added one of the fat eighth bundles, making sure the pieces of fabric weren't all clumped together, and stirred it around to make sure all of the fabric were completely saturated and under the liquid as much as possible.

I watched and stirred the mixture for about 15 minutes before taking out some of the lighter coloured fabrics like the yellows, oranges and light pinks.  At that stage I rinsed them by placing them in a separate container under cold running water.  I left the other, darker fabrics in the bleach mixture for about another 5 minutes before taking them out and rinsing under cold water as well.  I then threw the whole lot, together with the unbleached fat eighth bundle, into the washing machine and ran it through a normal cycle (I have a front loader which I suspect reduces fraying quite a bit - if you have a top loader with an agitator you might want to pink the edges of fabric before pre-washing to reduce fraying).

Fabric experimentation

In this photo, and the one above, the bleached fabrics are on the right and the unbleached fabrics are on the left.  I really love how the fabrics turned out - maybe because the colours were so rich to begin with, rather than looking washed out, the bleached fabrics are really bright and vibrant, almost fluorescent in some cases.

Fabric experimentation

I was going to try and take photos of all the fabric pairs, but the wind picked up and I was in danger of having all my lovely fabric blow away.  I think you can get the idea from this picture though - here the unbleached fabrics are on top and the bleached fabrics are below.  In the material I read about bleaching, people seemed to say that blue fabrics hold their colour well, and that was certainly my experience.  The dark blue fabric above definitely held its colour the best out of all the fabrics in this collection.

I'm really excited to use these fabrics in a project - I am going to keep the fabric pairs together for what I am hoping will be quite interesting results!

Have you ever tried bleaching or dyeing fabrics?  Any tips for the next time I get the urge to go crazy and alter some fabric?


Erica said...

Oh you are brave, this terrifies me. But yours turned out beautifully so maybe one day . . .

Susan said...

Does tea dying count? That's the only dying I've done- when I needed a white fabric to be more subtle. Your bleaching experiment looks really interesting.

Anna said...

Brilliant! I love the difference it has made to the colours! Can't wait to see what you do with them!

Sarah J. said...

I love dyeing fabric! I am getting ready to do some tests because my son wants a quilt back that looks like fire and I thought it would be cool to dye. The price of muslin plus dye is very affordable.

Kirsten said...

I would be worried about bleaching too much colour out of the fabrics but these different shades look lovely!

Mareenchen said...

Love the results! 've never tried anything like this before and don't know whether I will any time soon but I can't wait to see what you come up with in the end.