Thread, Felt and Fabric Dyed and a Couple Lessons Learned

A couple cones of thread, a couple yards of felt and a couple yards of flannel sat in a pile waiting for days for a time of transformation, which was yesterday. Dyeing day.

dyeing 9

Winding all that thread (3,00 to 4,000 yards) into hanks (or skeins) took a couple days. My sweet canine companion kept me company for much of the laborious process of thread winding. One of her favorite places to nap is in a box half filled with fabric which she can fluff and rearrange to make the perfect bed. The box gets moved around the house so she can be with me in comfort.

Fortunately, all that was needed to prepare the fabric was to cut it into smaller pieces, so that took minutes instead of days.

The first half of dye day was preparation time with presoaking the threads and fabrics and mixing dye concentrate colors. The second half of the day was actual dyeing of fibers.

dyeing 1

The fibers that were dyed are cotton perle thread in sizes 8/2 and 5/2, cotton flannel and 35% wool/65% rayon felt. They were all dyed with procion MX dyes, a fiber reactive dye for cellulose fibers. Although the felt contains wool, a protein fiber, the rayon takes the dye very well.

Since there were many dye baths of different colors, a low water immersion method using plastic zip lock bags is an efficient use of small space. I do think that after experiencing two of the bags springing a leak, that I will switch over to using small plastic reusable containers for dyeing thread in the future. Fortunately, the leaky bags were on a plastic tray, so the escaped dye did not get very far, making clean up easy. And none dripped on the floor or on my furry buddy tucked in her box under the table.dyeing 10

Another lesson learned from this round of dyeing was in making hanks. After each hank is wound, then they are tied at intervals all around with yarn that weaves through the threads and is tied to keep all the threads from tangling while being dyed and subsequently washed. For this, I prefer to use a synthetic yarn for a couple reasons: it does not hold dye so does not leave a dark stripe of color on the thread or yarn being dyed and it does not bleed color and effect the color of the thread or yarn.

dyeing 6

Well, at least that was what was supposed to be used, but somehow I accidentally used a wool yarn on some of the hanks and found a third reason to use a synthetic yarn for tyeing the hanks- the wool shrinks and acts as a resist leaving little white marks on the thread where the dye could not reach the thread. In the picture above, you can see I have pulled the top few threads to the right to show how the thread remained white where yarn acted as a resist.

dyeing 3

Today was wash and cleanup day. All those lovely dyed goods had to be washed and dried, and either folded or wound into twisted hanks.

So, after all these years of dyeing different fibers, I still had something to learn and from that, a couple tips to share: zip lock bags spring leaks and can make a mess so consider a more durable container for dyeing and check the yarn used to tie off the hanks to make sure it is a good choice.

dyeing 5

The two pieces of fabric above are flannel that will be used for making pillowcases.  The picture below shows the folded edges of the felt pieces.

dyeing 2

Dyeing mottled fabrics always yields interesting and unpredictable results. In the pictures below, the one on the left is a full view of one piece and the picture on the right is a close up of a small area about 2″ x 3″.

dyeing 7

And in the next picture, a black dye applied to wadded up felt causes the dye colors to separate, creating areas of interest. This is a close up of a small area. Notice how the felt has a heathered appearance where the rayon took the dye well and the wool did not.

dyeing 8

As inspiring as white thread or fabric is for dyeing, the resulting dyed goods with all their luscious colors are even more inspiring for possible creative endeavors.

dyeing 4



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