Friday 23 August 2019

Dyed & Printed Skirt Part 2

I’m back for part 2 of my summer skirt.
 See part 1 where I dyed some plain fabric.

Making up the skirt
I made up a simple wrap skirt with my dyed fabric, using darts to give some waist shaping and two buttons and pieces of ribbon as a fastening.

You need one back piece and two front pieces. Each of the three pieces needs to be half your waist measurements across the top once the darts are made.

I like to finish side seam raw edges with pinking scissors to avid them fraying.

Turn over a small hem on the two free front edges and then a slightly larger hem around the bottom.
I made a strip to add a narrow waistband.
First, this is stitched right sides to the top of the skirt. The seam was pressed towards the band and the top of the band was pressed down 1cm.

Both ends were folded right sides together and stitched. 

Turn out to make neat ends.

Stitch the folded over waistband in place.

Make a couple of buttonholes, and stitch on buttons and ribbon ties. I like to use the magic pen to mark the position of the buttonholes before stitching.

Nice enough but I wanted to create a design for a truly unique skirt. My deliberations included whether to create a floral or feather design, and whether to use block printing or screen printing to make the design. I sketched a little in my notebook and tried out ideas on some spare fabric.

Earlier this month I visited the Quilt festival at the NEC and the Colourcraft stand. Lovely to chat to the friendly folk there and I also fell for the fancy feathers stencils which come in two sizes. I also got a Colouricious feather wooden printing block. I want to create a feather design now!

Dye Paste Mixing

This contains a 15g pot of manutex, which is a seaweed-based thickener that can be used to make Procion MX dyes into a print/paint paste. (Note: Manutex is also known as Reactive Stock Paste).
You can mix the 4 teaspoons of powder in 1 pint of cold water and mix thoroughly. You can use a hand blender to make sure the paste has no lumps and is the right consistency. Leave to stand (Note: this paste only lasts a few weeks and can be kept fresher in the fridge. Discard if there is mould or smell.
The starter pack also contains urea. Urea slows the drying process and therefore allows more time for the dye to react with the fibre, yielding deeper shades. So I decided to dissolve 1 tablespoon of the urea in a cup of boiling water. I strained this and then sprinkled on 2 teaspoons of manutex. I labelled a tub and put the date of mixing.

I can then spoon out a little of this mixture into a palette tray to then add different dye colours to make up a palette of colours. A tiny amount of dye powder makes a strong colour, but check on a scrap fabric first.
Note: when using the dye powders it is advisable to use a mask eg. the disposable Valved Respirator Mask FFP3 (For fine toxic dust/mists/fumes with 2 elastic looped retainers conforms to EN149)

Printing using the Stencil
Using my Procion MX dye mixed with my manutex paste, I brushed colour through the feather stencil. The colours will mix as you do this unless you leave each bit to dry in-between colours. Similar colours on the colour wheel will give nice mixes. Be careful not to mix too many colours though and get a brown grunge colour! Trying out on a scrap of fabric first is a good policy.

If you want to do more than the front of a skirt, then using the stencil with a screen would speed up the process.
I'm sorry. I got so involved with this that i forgot to take a photo!

Block Printing
Set up a printing station with protective sheet then some thin foam to help the printing process.
Lay fabric onto this ready for printing.

Load up sponge block with dye paste and apply to the wooden block design. Ensure good coverage but avoid excess paint in the grooves. Now you’re ready to turn the block over and place down on the fabric.

Push and rock side to side a little. Keep hands in place for a couple of seconds to let the dye paste soak onto the fabric. It’s a good idea to stand up to block print as it gives a bit more power to your arms!
(It’s also a good idea to do a practice print for each block as often the first one doesn’t work so well. The wood seems to soak up the paint).
Wash your block with soap and water, with a scrubbing brush. Always wash your printing blocks after use; the sooner the better, so that it’s easier to get the paint off.

On both the stencil and block, I added a little copper metallic fabric paint with a small brush.

After stamping spray on a solution of soda ash. I added 6 tablespoons of soda ash (in the starter pack) to my 1litre bottle of water. Note: there is no need to rush to spray your newly printed design, as the dye will stay inert in the fabric. However, make sure you know that you have sprayed with the soda ash solution before washing.

As an extra heat fix, I baked my skirt in the oven for 5 minutes at 150°C. I then cool rinsed on its own in the washing machine to make sure any unfixed dye was removed. You can use Colsperse scouring agent to aid this.

Fibre reactive dye is the most permanent of all dye types. Unlike other dyes, it actually forms a covalent bond with the cellulose or protein molecule. Once the bond is formed, what you have is one molecule, as the dye molecule has become an actual part of the cellulose fibre molecule. So you can safely wash a garment that has been dyed in bright fibre reactive colours in your normal wash load.

So I’m ready to wear my personalised skirt.

I would love to hear about your dying and printing adventures, so please do comment below.

Helen x

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