Creating quilt fabric using resist Dyeing

Inspired by the book Glen gave me for Christmas, Visual Texture on Fabric by Lisa Kerpoe, I decided to take advantage of a long weekend at our country retreat to try my hand at a bit of resist dying.

Resist dyeing is a term that describes traditional methods of dyeing textiles with patterns. These “methods” are used to “resist” or prevent the dye from reaching all the cloth, thus creating a pattern and background on the cloth. Some common forms of resist include wax, paste, stencils, tying, stitching or using a chemical agent.

This is my material list to get started:

  • Clear work area, not too big as the cloth pieces should not be large
  • Fabric – fat quarters are a good size, I used 100% cotton prepared for dyeing (PFD)
  • Resist materials, in this project I’ve used:
    • Oats – paste
    • Sugar – syrup
    • Flour – paste
  • Assorted Dyes – I use Procion cold water reactive dye powder. Click on this link for additional information on Fiber Reactive Procion Dyes.
  • A selection of small mixing containers
  • Tools to apply the resists – paint brush, spatula, spoon, squirt bottle
  • Synthrapol Fabric Detergent, click on this link for a good description of Synthrapol from the Dharma Trading website
  • A fabric drying area
  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • Buckets to wash tools and fabric

So, armed with oats, flour and a bag of confectioner’s sugar, I headed for the garage with a feeling of having raided the Kitchen!

Day One, I set up a work space using an old card table. I covered it with a piece of felt, a piece of batting and a piece of canvas. This provides a surface to pin the fabric onto.
Prepared dying table and tools

Prepared dying table and tools

Next I mixed my flour resist using flour and cold water to create a paste. I used a paint spatula to spread the paste over a fat quarter of fabric. I then set this aside to dry. I also cooked an oat resist and a sugar resist. My oat resist went on well but my sugar resist was a bit of a disaster. It was a bit too runny so when I tried to apply it to the fabric, it ran all over the place. I must try it again!
Prepared flour resist

Prepared flour resist

I tried different methods of applying the resists. I used a wide spatula for the flour, a wooden spoon for the oats and a squirt bottle for the sugar resist.
Oats resist before dyeing

Oats resist before dyeing

I also had an idea to use leaves. Perhaps I was inspired by the beautiful colors of our autumn this year. I applied these to the fabric with the flour paste using the spatula.

After applying all my resists, I left everything to dry in the garage for 24 hours.

Applying leaves to prepared fabric

Applying leaves to prepared fabric

Day Two, I mixed five thickened dye colors to paint onto the fabric. These colors were from the Procion cold water reactive dye powder range. Recycled margarine tubs are great for holding the dyes.
Prepared fabric dyes

Prepared fabric dyes

I re-pinned each fat quarter to the work table and painted the dye onto the fabric. Here I used a cheap nylon paint brush.
Painting dye onto oats resist

Painting dye onto oats resist

Another fabric piece after the dye has been brushed on.
Flour crackle resist with dye

Flour crackle resist with dye

I covered the dyed fabric with sheets and left it for 24 hours. Covering is important as we must not let the fabric dry out too quickly. Full color is developed when the fabric is kept moist for a longer period.
Dyed fabric left to dry overnight

Dyed fabric left to dry overnight

Day Three, I soaked the fabric pieces in hot water to loosen the resist. Using a scrub brush, I scraped the resist off and washed the fabric thoroughly in hot water.
Scrubbing off the oats resist

Scrubbing off the oats resist

Scrubbing another fabric piece to remove all traces of the resist.
Scrubbing off the flour resist

Scrubbing off the flour resist

After the excess dye and resist had been washed out, I washed the fabric in Synthrapol. After rinsing, I lay the pieces out on the grass to dry.
Drying the dyed fabric

Drying the dyed fabric

Once dry the pieces were ironed and are now ready for a suitable quilt project.
Finished dyed fabric pieces

Finished dyed fabric pieces

Some interesting results were produced as well as a couple of failures – or should I call them learning experiences.

Some outcomes:

  • I particularly liked the results produced by the oats resist.
  • Don’t have the sugar syrup too thin, very messy and it doesn’t work very well
  • I should have more cracks in my flour crackle resist for the dye to penetrate

So ends another fun fabric dyeing experiment.
until next time,

Leslie..

Posted by Leslie Edwards

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