* As I mentioned earlier, I've been working on a new tutorial, but yesterday I saw that Sew, Mama, Sew is having a tutorial contest this month so I thought I'd go ahead and enter. For a chance at some of their terrific fabrics? Of course! This tutorial will be in two parts. The first part is a do-it-yourself tutorial for dyeing your own fabric and lace trims to use in your sewing projects. Part two is a follow-up of that process to dye paper towels--yes, you read that right!--that you can use in your paper crafts, mixed media art, or fabric art. I'll show you how. Are you ready? Let's go!
Tutorial: Hand-dyed Fabric Trims
I love the idea of dyeing and painting my own fabric designs. What I don't love are the huge vats of dyes, waxes, specialty tools, and expensive fabric paints that are often required. (Although I do love the fabulous results you can get!) And, as much as I'd love to, I just don't have the space to lay out and dye whole pieces of cloth. So, I've had to learn ways to get similar results on a smaller, less expensive, and locally available scale. It turns out I've had so much fun with it that I've experimented with dyeing or colorwashing just about every raw material I can think of. That's how it occurred to me to dye my own fabric trims. I have a weakness for lace trims, but they are difficult to find in the bright colors I prefer. There are, however, gobs of easy to find and less expensive to buy white trims available at fabric, craft, and even thrift shops. I bet you have tons of them mixed in your stash right now.
Here's what I had on hand:
Materials you'll need:
- fabric and lace trims, white or off white
- acrylic craft paints or fabric paints
- cup of water & spray bottle of water
- disposable bowls or paint mixing tray
- foam brushes
- paper towels
- flat, non-porous work surface (cutting board, plastic tray, table covered with freezer paper, etc.)
- outside drying rack (clothes line, stick, branch, pvc pipe, etc.)
1. Lay out the trim onto your work surface. I use an old rotary cutting mat that I accidentally warped with an embossing gun, but any non-porous surface like a plastic tray or cutting board from the kitchen will work great. Hint: you might want to set this one aside for craft use only from now on!
2. Mix up your paints. Squeeze a few drops of acrylic craft paint (The $1 a bottle stuff you can get at any craft store and probably already have on hand.) into a painting tray or disposable bowl, then add enough water to thin it out to a milky consistency. This isn't an exact science. A ratio of about 5 to 1 is good. Too much water and the color will be lighter and less opaque, too little water and your fabric will dry stiff. You don't need to have a special fabric paint. Since we are diluting our paint with lots of water, any acrylic paint will work without changing the hand of the fabric too much. If you already have or can find inexpensive fabric paints (I also like Pebeo Setacolor transparent, below.), these of course work great, but won't require as much water to thin.
3. Before starting, spray the trim with water to dampen. Wet your brush and begin to dab the color onto your fabric trim, blending the color with the brush and diluting with additional water as necessary. If the color seems too dark or splotchy, add water from your brush onto the trim itself as you blend the color. You will want to fully saturate the trim with paint so that both sides are covered and you end up with your trim sitting in a little puddle of paint. Once the fabric dries, you can go back and add an additional wash of paint to even out the color or make it more vibrant, if necessary. I only had to do this with the lighter colors, like yellow and lime green.
4. Once you have fully covered one side of the trim, turn it over and dab more color onto the backside until it is fully saturated and evenly colored.
5. Carefully hang your trim outside to dry. I use a stick or pvc pipe propped up between two window sills as my drying rack. You can use a tree branch (It will take on a little of the paint color but shouldn't hurt the tree.) or clothes line, too. But, trust me, this is something you want to do outside unless you like a polka dotted floor.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 as many times as you like until your drying rack overfloweth. When dyeing fabric or paper, I like to make as much as possible to have on hand for future projects.
7. Once the trims are dry, throw them in the dryer on high to heat set the paint and they will even be machine washable. And, did I mention, this is also a great activity to do with kids? Since you can basically use this same method for dyeing fabric, I cut small pieces of trim and muslin scraps for my kids to paint and they have a ball! So put them to work and you'll all have fun and boost your stash at the same time.
7. Warning: this process can become addictive! Now that you're crazy passionate about dyeing trims, you'll be looking around the house to see what else you can paint, and this is where our next tutorial comes in. When you return to your messy work surface to begin again with even more colors and trims, you will find something like this. And this is where we will pick up for Part 2 of our tutorial in just a few days.
You can find more tutorial pictures at my Flickr set. And let me leave you with a few great ideas from my Flickr favorites for using your new trims. You can also see how I've used trim in some recent projects here, here, here, and here. Now, go play!
1. small present/pequeno presente, 2. Untitled, 3. Removable Pocket, 4. back/side view...frilly butt!!, 5. Another pouch..., 6. Laptop Tote from Vintage Barkcloths, Satin Brocade & Trims, 7. Flower Apron, 8. Hab-Dich-Lieb-Rock, 9. wallet n.7/carteira n.7, 10. tanzen1, 11. malas by Paula Mateus, 12. Untitled, 13. Nicole wallet / carteira da Nicole, 14. Summer Bag, 15. patchamania skirt o' orange blossomy sunshiney love, 16. P1020643
*ETA: I've received a few comments indicating that the acrylic paint may bleed from the trim when washed, so you may want to experiment first or save your hand-dyed trims for projects that will not be washed or will be dry cleaned. Thanks!