fabric dyes

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Dye seems to be a theme lately. The kids have wanted to do some tie dye and being the end of the year I thought we’d do tie dyed teacher gifts. I picked out some more “grown-up” colors and a new technique I’ve been wanting to try. Arashi Shibori is a traditional Japanese form of tie dye which results in beautiful diagonal streaks of color that are at once graphic and organic. Per usual I am taking a little inspiration and a lot of liberty mixed with make-do tools. I’d say it was a worthwhile attempt and one that I’ll repeat.

arashi shibori on rayon fabric with fiber reactive dyes

I didn’t find what I wanted at the fabric store so I ended up with some lightweight rayon/spandex knit. I cut it into 12″ wide strips that I sewed into long loops in the manner of a current fashion trend—the infinity scarf—which can be worn long and loose or twisted into a cowl. The blue/green one on the right was my first attempt and shows its faults laid out flat but looks okay when worn. The kids picked out the colors on the other two for their teachers. Despite my novice attempts I think the finished products turned out quite nicely.

arashi shibori dyed infinity scarf cowl tie dye blue green

I read a lot about arashi shibori before attempting this project and was most inspired and blown away by the beautiful work and words of Shibori Girl.

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I’ve written up a knitting pattern for a newborn baby hat. It’s a simple top-down beanie knit from about 100 yards or meters of fingering weight. I’ve done the increases in such a way that there is very little counting or marker placement which makes it easy to memorize and fast to knit, good qualities for gift knitting! You can download the pattern here or on Ravelry. I’d be happy to hear from you if you knit it! I handpainted the wool for the sample myself with acid dyes.

Countless – newborn baby hat knitting pattern

hand dyed hand knit baby hat countless knitting pattern

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I’ve been working pretty hard on a rather important project for a while now. It’s more than halfway along but it will still be a few months before it’s finished. I don’t have much to show for it just yet but here’s a hint:

tie dye shirts and baby onesie

left to right: for Dad, big brother, little brother due 12/5.

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I dyed a cotton velour dress to replace the girl’s favorite pajamas that have just gotten too small. The old pajamas were scrunch dyed in shades of lavender with the same dragonfly in purple.

lavender scrunch dyed pajamas with purple dragonfly

I added the sage green to the shades of lavender and then stamped the dragonfly in a bottle green color. She had this same pettably soft velour dress from Dharma Trading in a yellow-orange colorway that wore incredibly well. I hope this dress will last her a good long while, maybe as a tunic with leggings when she gets taller. I wish they made this dress in my size.

lavender/purple/green tie dye cotton velour dress with dragonfly stamp

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Who wants tie dye?

blank white baby onesie purple tie dye dress embellished with rubber stamp butterflies

Since I have some requests for tie-dye, I’m open to doing a batch if there is enough interest. So if you want something get the word out! Leave your comment here or convo me through my Etsy shop: randomcharm. Purchase details, colorways, available blanks/sizes, etc. at randomcharm on Etsy.

ETA: for my personal notes:
Mel: VLSD6 and LEL6 √
Nik: CH032 times 2 in seaglass frogs √
Mar: PINK 6mo onesie, 12mo ruffled onesie, 12mo dress √
Kel: 18mo froggie onesie √

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pink tie dye shirt with scattered daisies

Please excuse the silly look on my face. Rich told me I looked too serious. An old white shirt freshened up with pink on pink tie dye and then embellished across one shoulder with a little daisy rubber stamp using fabric inks. And a little frog hiding in the daisies at the hip.

rubber stamp with fabric ink on tie dye shirt rubber stamped frog and daisies embellish tie dye shirt

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All of the pink/purple was done this week, other colors were done previously. I did all of the stamping/embellishing last night, heat fixed by Rich. These baby clothes are going out all over the continent (literally) to his friends. There are a few more but I’ll save those for another post.

baby onesie tie dye with butterfly and matching socks

butterflies stamped on tie dye baby onesie and matching socks in pink and purple

detail of stamped butterflies on pink and purple tie dye baby onesie

twinkie rompers:
pink and purple tie dyed baby rompers with matching socks

baby gown:
pink and purple tie dye baby gown with matching socks

and my favorite seaglass colors:
green and blue baby boy onesie with little frogs

with frog detail:
stamped and colored frogs on blue/green tie dye baby boy onesie

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kids opening croquet set

The boy and the girl went up to the county for a sleepover at my parents’ house. While at their grandparents’ house they picked berries, roamed the field road in the ATV, made ice cream with grandmom, helped grandpop mow the lawn and developed a taste for playing croquet! DH and I were at home cleaning, rearranging, painting and having a little fun too.

img_5204 bee balm or monarda

Back home they played outside in the sprinkler while my friend Jan and I did tie dye which is still batching, pictures of that later. But here are some playsilks quickly scrunch dyed in Kool-Aid. The orange and the pinky-red are new and the blue and green are several years old. Both kids play with these a lot so I figured a few new colors would be welcome.

playsilks dyed with Kool-Aid

This morning the girl and I went down to Artist and Craftsman Supply to pick up some PINK procion dye since we discovered yesterday that we are all out of PINK. They are homebased here in Portland ME but have a number of stores in cities across the country, maybe one near you! I did look specifically at the acid dyes thinking I’d bring some home to dye fiber/yarn but I couldn’t decide on a color. Maybe next time after I do a little more research.I also picked up some extra Sculpey in colors we are running out of and a bargain pick of pretty nice paint brushes for the kids in fun colors with gel handles. I haven’t been there in at least a year and now I remember why. I go in there and I just want to buy some of everything!

colorful paint brushes

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hand spun, Navajo plied and hand dyed Corriedale yarn

This is 35 yards of hand spindled, Navajo plied (3 ply) Corriedale yarn dyed in the microwave with Kool-Aid. I used a packet of orange and a generous pinch of blue something. It came out a nice slightly variegated pumpkin color, just what I was aiming for. This was a test dye job for the big hank below.

Merino plied with Corriedale on a yarn swift

Above is Merino plied with Corriedale on the yarn swift. It’s about 250 yards if I did my math correctly, enough to make something . . . The resulting yarn is soft like Merino but has a pleasing firmness to it because of the Corrie. I don’t know much about yarn so I’ll have to figure out what to make with this and dye it accordingly.

The very lovely BFL is still on the bobbins waiting to be plied. I am making myself finish some projects with deadlines first before I do any more with that but I like to touch it every so often.

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img_3303Ever since I first sewed the crow tee shirt and stencilled the crow on it, the boy has been bugging me to add a tree. With a nest for the crow’s babies. I was kind of hoping he would forget about it because I really liked the starkness of the original design. But persistence won out. I’ve always been afraid of drawing trees, mostly because I’m really bad at drawing trees. Studying lots of pictures and tracing photographs of trees is giving me some confidence. Now just don’t look too closely at the nest!

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Cute cow shirts

orange tee shirt with hand drawn cartoon cow appliquethe girl in red shirt with cow appliqueThe boy got this very nice orange long sleeve tee shirt for Christmas. He did not want to wear it because it didn’t have an animal on it. So I asked him what animal he wanted on it and we went google image searching for cows. It turned out that he wanted a cute cartoon style cow. So after looking at several, I ended up drawing this cutesy (not my choice) cow for his approval. He also requested that I make one for the sister. I hunted up one of his old tee shirts to use for her. I used my lightbox to transfer the cow design to fusible web backed white cotton knit. I then colored the images with the boy’s help using my Tsukineko fabric inks. The boy’s cow has orange nose and inner ears and girl’s cow has pink nose and ears.

I attached them to the tee shirts with a straight stitch and then finished the edge with a simple zigzag stitch. Simple, ha ha! For whatever reason, the stabilizer method I had used previously to sew on a knit applique did not work well at all. So that would be why there are no close-ups of the cow! And that would also be why it took more than a week to finish these. But they look cute on, especially with braided pigtails. :)

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I’m not exactly sure when I made this because I didn’t take the picture right away. The boy couldn’t wait to get into it. He’s been needing some long sleeve tee shirts so I’ve just been trying to make them from fabric or our old tee shirts that we haven’t been wearing rather than buy, especially since he is so thin that the store bought ones tend to look too wide to get the sleeves long enough. My husband donated a grey tee shirt to the cause and I recut and serged it up one night, intending to leave it plain. The boy however wanted to know what animal I was going to put on it. Since we had been watching the crows outside the window earlier he hit upon that. I looked for some pictures of crows on the internet and he chose one in flight. I printed out several and then quickly composited them on my lightbox to get the features I wanted from each, the wings from one, the open beak of another, the grasping feet of a third. I then simply cut a paper stencil and dabbed on fabric dye and heat set it with the iron. I lobbied for a small critter on the run at the bottom of the shirt but the boy preferred to have the word “crow” so that’s what I did. The boy was reluctant to help with the actual shirt but did do a second stencil of the crow onto a scrap piece of fabric that will hopefully appear on a later garment for the girl. All done in time to catch the bus to PM kindergarten. I’m afraid they are getting a little too used to this!

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Here’s the girl doing a great impression of Cinderella thanks to a kool-aid dyed play silk and an apron my mother made for me when I was a little girl! I should post a close-up of the apron fabric, it’s a wonderful, delicate print of tiny birds amidst bamboo. The play silk I made quite a while ago. My instructions for dyeing play silks in the microwave are here.

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This faux suede/sherpa coat came to us in a bag of hand-me-downs from a friend. The shoes used to belong to the boy but were now the right size for the girl. Unfortunately Miss Picky only likes girly shoes. In an effort to get her to wear something that would be safe for running around in I decided to embellish the shoes and jacket to match with some autumn colored leaves. Since I really can’t draw I looked online for some inspiration and came up with a few pictures of leaves on branches that I could use to make my own design. I used my Tsukineko fabric inks in empty markers from Dharma Trading. These are absolutely great for someone like me who is not so handy with a paint brush. Pencil didn’t work so well on the suede so I took a deep breath and my chosen colors and worked freehand. I love the way this project turned out and the girl wears this coat every chance she gets. She even wears the shoes!

The front of the jacket and details of the pocket, the shoulder and the shoes:

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Here’s a plain boy’s tee shirt turned into a one of a kind piece of wearable fun with tie dye and a fabric marker. I can’t remember how I got this idea but the boy has been very much into all kinds of animals lately and maybe we were talking about lizards? Anyway, something about the chameleon’s curly tail and the tie dye spiral made me wonder if I could combine the two. I found a chameleon coloring page online that I then juxtaposed over a tie dye shirt in Photoshop to try out my idea. It looked great so I went ahead and tie dyed several tee shirts with the center of the spiral farther down than normal. If I do it again, I’ll also need to move it a little more to the right but it worked out okay anyway. I also tried several different patterns of applying the dye colors and this is the one that I was most pleased with for this particular use. After the shirt was dyed and dried I then used my lightbox to trace the design with a fabric marker. My lightbox is one of my favorite tools for crafting and graphic design. I also found a groovy font to typeset the word “chameleon” and added that to the design. Surprisingly I found several pictures of real chameleons in that bright blue combo online! But they can’t really change color to match their background, sadly that part is a myth.

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