Thursday, January 19, 2012


I received an email from Christine the other day with an interesting pdf file called “Gallon Bucket Dyeing” by Terri Stegmiller. The idea behind it was to dye many fat quarters with different colors in a large bucket. I forwarded it on to a few of my dyeing friends, and when they showed up at my house the next day to play in the studio, they all were keen to try it. So we took the plunge into “gallon bucket dyeing”.

I gathered up 10 white cotton fat quarters and decided to use them dry rather than to pre-wet them as I usually do. In my 1.5 gallon plastic container, I poured one cup of soda ash, set an oddly folded fat quarter in the solution, then topped it off with a three-quarter cup solution of a teaspoon of deep yellow concentrate and soda ash. Next I threw on another piece of cotton and poured a similar quantity solution of a teaspoon of Chinese red and soda ash on top, being careful not to agitate any of this. I continued this layering of cotton and dye solution (adding navy and black to the colors I was using) until I had completed a 10 layer bath of what now looked like very muddy water. I was not very hopeful.

The directions I received over the internet said to let it sit overnight, but patience is not one of my virtues. I wanted to give it just a tiny bit of movement to get the colors to mix, so I set a yogurt tub of water on top of the whole thing to add a bit of weight. I thought three hours was enough processing time so rinsed them then.

The results were amazing. I’d say 7 out of 10 pieces were fabulous blends of the four different colors I used and the others are certainly usable in my projects, or perhaps for overdyes. Isn't it hard to imagine all of the above fabrics coming from one dyebath?

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