Ice dye vest top

digital print ice dye top

I used to do a lot of dress making for myself, then quilting took over and I haven’t done anything for years. With my recent interest in fabric design for digital printing I was inspired to get my patterns out and make something again with this cotton knit material that started life as an ice dyed fabric.

ice dyeing

I photographed the finished fabric and then manipulated it in Photoshop so that I had a mirrored image that I could use for a repeat pattern. I then had this digitally printed by Spoonflower on an organic cotton knit. I haven’t done much sewing with knits so I chose a simple pattern, but I still had to adapt it so that I could the arms and neckline using a knit binding instead of a traditional bias binding that the pattern called for. I was able to watch a class on Craftsy to help with this: “Sewing fashion knits” by Linda Lee.

 

I got out my old Janome overlocker which again I haven’t used for years and was delighted to find that it worked perfectly.

I made bound armholes and neckline following the directions in Linda’s class and found these gave a really nice finish. The soft colours of the print look great with jeans, although I think it’s look great with something white too. Now I’ve done this I am keen to experiment with more of my iced dyed fabrics and maybe even some of my hand dyes too. If anyone wants to make their own version of this top or anything else for that matter the fabric design is available in my Spoonflower shop in a wide range of different fabrics http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/anne_renata

digital print ice dye top

 

 

Ice Dyeing

This last week I have been experimenting with ice dyeing. It’s not the most obvious thing to be doing in the tropics but a good supply of ice cubes and crushed ice instead of snow works very well.

Ice dyed fabric

Ice dyed fabric

There’s a good tutorial on ice dyeing on the Dharma Trading website and I used this as my guide. Basically the ice covered fabric needs to sit on a rack in a container where the liquid from the melted ice and dye can drain away. I looked around to see what I could use and found that some old flower pots in the garden were ideal and some round, metal kitchen racks were the prefect fit to go inside the pot.

fabric arranged on a rack in the pot.

fabric pre-soaked in soda ash is arranged on a rack in the pot.

The pot is deep enough to allow a good layer of ice to cover all the fabric. I found that a mixture of ice cubes and crushed ice worked very well and didn’t melt too quickly.

the fabric layered in the pot and covered in a mix of ice cubes and crushed ice.

the fabric layered in the pot and covered in a mix of ice cubes and crushed ice.

On top of this I sprinkled the powdered dye. I use Procion MX fabric dyes for all my dyeing, and when applying the dye to the surface of the ice using a small nylon sieve helps give a more even distribution of colour. Using more than one colour gives a more interesting effect, but I found that some colours worked much better than others and you need to make sure to add enough dye powder to give the fabric a good colour.

a mix of blue and golden yellow dyes

a mix of blue and golden yellow dyes

red, fuchsia and gold dyes, looks good enough to eat!

red, fuchsia and gold dyes, looks good enough to eat!

I left these to sit overnight to allow all the ice to melt. Here I used a colander suspended over a pot and this also worked well.

The last traces of ice slowly melting

The last traces of ice slowly melting

I left the fabric to sit overnight until all of the ice had melted. Then comes the fun of seeing how the fabrics have turned out.

The results are unpredictable and beautiful as the dyes blend and mingle almost like watercolours to create delicate and subtle colour variations.

reds, pinks and yellow

reds, pinks and yellow

darks greens and blue

darks greens and blue

To avoid having white or very pale colour in the background you can also use a piece of fabric that has already been dyed. These fabrics will be wonderful for art quilts, appliqué, or even some contemporary patchwork or quilting design and I can’t wait to use them.

Beautiful greens

Beautiful greens