Category Archives: Techniques
OK, this was so fun. I’m going to order more mold making goodies and start scouring the planet for fun things to make. I already have a few ideas.
The first thing I did was firmly affix the original to the bottom of my tray. I sealed it around all of the edges with modeling clay. Then I also sealed along the bottom of the tray, since the joint between the walls and the bottom of the tray was not tight.
I followed the instructions that came with the mold making stuff to mix up the silicone and apply it. I didn’t take any pictures during this part – I was trying to work quickly, measure accurately, and not let either very curious child make a mess. But here’s what it looked like after I finished pouring in the silicone.
Four hours later…
Of course, I could not resist making a quick bar of soap, so I remelted some leftover soap pieces I had from a different project.
The melted soap was all full of air bubbles, and so the resulting soap is a little messy.
So – I’m so excited! Han Solo in Carbonite soap, chocolates, and candies!!
I just re-found this blog post from the Soap Queen about the psychology of shopping, as it relates to craft fairs (and, I suppose, to life in general). Enjoy!
Personally, I throw everything in the washer (on hot) and dryer (on high) as soon as it gets home before folding it and storing it neatly on the shelf with other similar fabrics. That way, when I decide I want to use a particular fabric, I don’t have to wait while it washes and dries. Plus, nearly everything I make is washable – I assume customers are going to wash it, and that they probably won’t be using the gentle cycle. So I treat the fabric as harshly as I can when prewashing it – if it’s going to fall apart in the laundry, I’d rather it fall apart here!
But you can head on over to True Up and read up on the pros and cons of prewashing.
So this is the last of the things I wanted to try out with the dye before starting on real projects.
This is a baby nightgown. I dyed it orange, intending to leave it that way. Then decided that was kind of boring, so I tossed the bottom half into the red dyebath.
Purple clothes. Now, see, the pants and one shirt were intended to be dyed such that they went from really light purple at the top to dark purple at the bottom. I’ve read online several places that it’s just a matter of how much time the item spends in the dyebath, but then I’ve read a few other places that it really requires three shades of whatever color you want. I personally didn’t have much success with the “more time in the dyebath” method, as you can see here.
And more prefolds. See, this red is the best I could get with the fade-out dye goal. It goes from dark red to pretty much white over about one quarter inch. Not quite what I wanted. The orange one behind it is a little better, but not much.
So, there you go. I feel a little more confident about dyeing things for the shop, for projects, etc.
So the last few weeks, I’ve been trying out batik. It’s so much fun. Wow. I am using soy wax, which is not what is traditionally used in batik, but it’s nontoxic and has a lower melting point. Plus, it washes out in the laundry. Regular batik wax can give off toxic smoke, has to be hotter to use, and needs to be boiled out. Not really a good idea for us preggos or for working around small children.
So this is a dandelion design I totally copied from a project I saw on Craftster. It was one of the first things I put the wax on, and I learned really quickly that I need to watch the initial blob when brush meets fabric. You can see that I got better as I went, but I think I need a different applicator to get really smooth thin lines.
This one I batiked first, then dyed it purple, then washed out the wax and dyed it yellow. You can see the times when I let the wax get too cool while I was using it – it doesn’t saturate the fabric as well, so more of the purple dye got through. I also continued to struggle with smooth, thin lines. That continues to be a frustration, actually. You can also see how the yellow overdye changes the color of the purple just slightly.
Well, when I was at my computer printing off a few designs to test out in batik, Wally saw the batman logo in my folder of saved clipart and got all excited about making a batman hankie. So here it is. This one was first dyed yellow, then batiked and dyed black. This is where the soy wax really shows its drawbacks. Because of its lower melting point, it’s not as stable as traditional waxes. It doesn’t hold up as well in the dyebath and can’t be used in very hot dyebaths. To get a dark black, you need to leave fabric in the dyebath, particular after adding the soda ash fixer, for a fairly long time. But leaving the soy wax in the soda ash solution for very long will ruin the design. So you’re supposed to limit the amount of time the batiked design sits in the soda ash solution, thus limiting the amount of time the black has to darken and set. So you (or I, at least) end up with this kind of dark gray instead of true black. Close enough for me.
The dragon. My favorite. Batiked it (still struggled with the glob problem, you can see on the rightmost foot). Then dyed it in red, leaving the top corner out of the dyebath. Then dyed that corner in black. I really like how it turned out.
This one was really an experiment for a Christmas present I’m planning to make for my nephew. The flames have a bit more crackling than I’d like, so I need to think about that one a bit, but overall I’m pretty happy with it. It was a LOT of work. I dyed it yellow, then batiked on some flames. Dyed it Orange. Washed it. Batiked on the flames a bit bigger. Dyed it Red. Washed it. batiked on the flames bigger. Dyed it Black. When I dyed it black, I tried to keep the bottom flame design OUT of the dyebath, and I think that’s what I should have been doing all along.
But what I’m most unhappy with is the way the black is not really black, it’s really dark maroon, because it’s black over red. I’m not entirely sure how to prevent this from happening, but might give it a try with some sort of technique like I used with the dragon hankie.
And two baby shirts. A rooster and a spider. The spider didn’t turn out as well as I wanted it to, but I also was rushed when I was doing it, so it makes sense. Also, see the light gray there in the middle of the spider shirt? Yeah, dummy, UNSNAP the shirt before dyeing.
So batik was really super fun and I hope to be able to do more of it soon!!
Along with the last batch of tie dye, I tried some items using various low water immersion dyeing techniques. I will say, I love the results, but there was one big hitch.
The two on the left were done with the items, dry, in a bowl, then pouring in two different colors of dye, one on each side of the bowl, simultaneously. The results are much more subtle, with more blending and gradation.
The two on the right were done with the items in small mason jars. First a small amount of dye in one color, then squish in the item, then pour a second color on top, adding water to completely cover the item. The results here are much less blended.
This is the items in their dyebaths.
so, the big drawback? Cloth diapers are very absorbent. Duh, right? When tie dying, they don’t come into contact with much liquid, so the absorbency isn’t a problem. In low water immersion dying, they soak up a LOT of liquid. So much so that I had a really hard time rinsing out all of the darker colored dyes. I rinsed one for about 20 minutes and still didn’t have all the dye out. I was really tired and decided it would be OK in the washer as long as I took it out right away.
But then I fell asleep.
And it sat there with all the other items I’d dyed that day and rinsed.
On top of some of them.
And it of course bled all over them. That’s the stray spots of color on a few of the diapers from the previous post. I was sooo mad at myself. But at least I didn’t do something that stupid on something I really really cared about. I mean, diapers…they’re really just to catch poop, so if they have some stray spots, no biggie.
OK, THIS is really fun. Impractical on a large scale, but FUN.
Shaving cream dying. I was pretty convinced that I had ruined the whole thing. Almost from the get-go, until I hung it up on the line to dry. But it turned out really really nice, and now that I know it works and I was doing it right, I can experiment with more interesting color choices than just plain solid yellow.
Basically, this involves mixing dye with shaving cream, drawing with this dye/cream solution on a bed of cream and water, laying the fabric on it, then keeping it moist for several hours while the dye sets. Then you have to scrape the shaving cream/dye/water solution off the fabric to reveal, finally, your design.
Because, see, it looks like a wad of crap while it’s in progress.
I decided to go ahead with my second batch of tie dye on Monday. I still don’t feel confident enough to work on the nice clothing blanks I purchased, plus I’m waiting for my soy wax flakes to arrive so I can do some batik on them, so I decided to continue experimentation with my prefold diapers. I know people dye them solid colors all the time, but I’ve never seen someone tie dye them. Now, maybe there’s a good reason for that, I don’t know.
I was afraid that the thickness of the diapers would prove to be problematic, but it wasn’t as much of a problem as I’d anticipated it being. What I hadn’t anticipated was how difficult the super absorbency of the diapers would make the process!
This is easily one of my favorites. It’s a flat-fold diaper, folded into a flag fold, held in place by chopsticks, and then dyed. I had intended to dye this one yellow and red, but it was the last one I did and I was all out of already-mixed red dye, so I just did yellow. It occurred to me afterwards that dying a cloth diaper a mottled yellow might not be the way to go, but I do like how it turned out. See the smudge of blue there? More on that later.
This first one here is a preemie size, I tied it up, then rolled it in some spilled yellow in a really random pattern, then applied the red dye. Not my favorite. The second one was Shibori style, but the diaper’s thickness really came into play here, with the dye being unable to penetrate down to the bottom layers. I will probably overdye this later.
The fourth one is accordion-folded with red and yellow dyes overlapping. Wally helped with this one and squirted red in a few places where it wasn’t supposed to go, but it’s not bad looking overall. The last one I love, except for that wayward spot of blue near the bottom. Again, more on that in the next post.
Tie Dye’s been something I’ve wanted to try for years, but never have. I usually hesitate to start new hobbies, you know? Not only do I not need more things to occupy my time, but I also hardly need more supplies to store, right? But I’ve wanted to get a screenprint kit for a while, and I always browse at Dharma Trading Company and dream of the possibilities. And then many friends and fellow bloggers have written or spoken about tie dye lately, and Dharma sells a tie dye kit, and one thing led to another and before I knew it, um, I had a bunch of clothing blanks and dyes and goodies in my cart.
My first attempt was NOT bad, and it was definitely a learning experience.
This one on the left turned out quite nicely, though I anticipated the middle being a lighter green. Too much Dark Blue, overwhelmed the yellow, to make a dark green rather than the grassy green I envisioned. The one on the right, I like. Your typical bulls-eye tie dye pattern. The colors didn’t mix together as much as I thought they would. (like, I thought it would be orange there in the second ring, not yellow and red.)
This swirl turned out way better than I anticipated. The hankie was hardly bulky and I had a hard time getting the rubber bands tight enough, so the whole thing was kind of floppy while I was dying it. Turned out nice, though. The one on the right is supposed to be Shibori, but it’s, uh, not very good. I like how it turned out, but it’s completely not what it should look like…
I love this one.
This is a little outfit. I like how it looks, but this was a good lesson for me. The green totally overwhelmed the yellow. I really wanted these to be mostly yellow, but put on too much green and blue, which, being darker, completely overwhelmed it.
So I want to combine batik and tie dye. I was having trouble getting the wax hot enough and I was doing this at home alone with Wally, so was reluctant to get out the hot plate to keep it warm at my table like I should probably do. I gave up on the wax and used Elmer’s gel glue, which I’d read about online. My mistake was, I’m pretty sure, I put the glue on the piece AFTER I soaked it in the soda ash solution. It kind of spread/ran more than I really thought it would. The octopus image is totally muddy. But the idea, in general, is not a bad one. If the lines could have been crisper, I would be happier, but it was a good first try with this. I’m not unhappy with it.
So these are all for me. Next time, I hope to be making stuff for the shop. I don’t plan to offer just tie-dyed items, I’ll be doing various things with the items to make them a bit more interesting.