Wednesday, 15 October 2014

My hand dyeing adventure

Note before reading: this post is word heavy at the top and picture heavy at the bottom - I had not originally planned on doing a blog post about this but then decided that I wanted to share a whole load of photo's and this was the best place for it. If you don't want to read the how I did it stuff just skip to the bottom and enjoy the photo's.

Not so long ago I splurged and got myself a king sized wool filled 4 seasons duvet. My old one was also wool and 4 seasons but I'd previously been sold an extra long single person duvet and it's only because I am so short that it was "long enough", when used on it's side, to cover me. I had used this old duvet for years and just got tired of it being so short. A new duvet meant new duvet covers and while I found one that was okish I couldn't find another that I liked enough to buy.

So... A trip to IKEA got me a plain white duvet cover set, sheet and extra pillow cases as the duvet set only had 2 in it and I need 6. Then a trip to the shops got me 4 packs of Dylon dye - 2 in sunflower yellow and 2 in ocean blue. The plan was to tie dye the lot and have splashes of blue, yellow, green and white.  In the past I have always used the dye for the washing machine so doing it by hand was a new adventure. The old tins had always put me off as they were so complicated to use but these "new" packets are a lot more user friendly so I decided to take the plunge.

When I started the actual task of wrapping string around the corner of a pillow case, I soon realised it would take me a gazillion days to do so as my hands didn't like the job and it was also hard on my iffy shoulder. Those of you who don't know me won't know that I am the lucky recipient of palindromic rheumatism, arthritis, a dodgy back and some other joint issues thanks to working too hard so any task that requires repetitive movements is going to hit me hard. I decided that it would be a better idea to dip dye instead - easier on the hands etc. *wink*

After washing out the old baby bath I had lurking in my garage that my oldest had kindly carried up to the bathroom for me, I proceeded to mix up the first lot of dye - the yellow. The dye once mixed with water in the jug was a lovely orange and I was glad I didn't skimp on getting rubber gloves or I'd have had garish yellow/blue hands by the end of this. I then proceeded to ignore the instructions as what I had planned required more water so less dye per litre of water.  I knew in advance that this would result in a lighter colour.

This is why they say to use a bowl or stainless steel sink!
I half filled the baby bath with warm water, added the required salt and then the dye. As I had never dip dyed and I couldn't remember what order I had to do the dipping I decided to put it in to the half way point first and pull a bit out as time went by.  I squished the submerged fabric around for about 5 minutes - about 10 less than you are supposed to do as I didn't want a flat finish but splodges and blodges, just like you'd get with tie dyeing.

I draped the duvet and sheet over a plastic step so it would not lie on the floor. Doing it this way is messy - the dye tends to drip a bit if you don't squeeze any excess dye out first. Don't do it this way if you are not in a tiled area that is easy to clean. Once the last bit had been in the bath for around 45 minutes I took it out and did my best to rinse it out as much as possible, doing the pillow cases was easy but the sheet and duvet were a lot more difficult.

I spread the items on the tiled floor so the white undyed parts wouldn't get in contact with the dyed parts. I then poured the leftover dye into a tub and threw an old white sheet in that looked a bit grubby as it had gone slightly greyish and needed a bit more life added to it - I wasn't sure if this was going to have any effect but I knew that the sheet couldn't get any worse than it was already. I left that sheet to soak for a couple of hours.

Then it was time for the blue dye - even though the yellow dye had been orange seeing the purple that was the result of the packets of blue dye made me rather worried, especially when the first bit of white fabric into the bath turned lilac. I took a deep breath and decided to give it some time thinking that if the worst came to the worst nothing would happen that could not get fixed by a trip to the washing machine with a pack or 2 of black washing machine dye. This time round I was trying it the other way - slowly putting more fabric into the bath as time went by.

Like with the yellow dye I did my best to rinse out the blue dye but by this time my back had decided to play up and it was very painful to do so when the worst was off I decided to see if the washing machine could get the rest out.  I was thrilled with the results so far despite noticing that I'd not pushed the fabric in far enough to get a green area between the yellow and blue. and really hoped that the bright yellow and bright blue I saw would be what I ended up with. I then chucked 2 faded bottle green sheets into the blue dye to give them a little oomph that they were missing. I do like re-using dye, though really one should not as it's mostly stopped working by then.

I carefully carried it all up to the attic and made sure to put the blue dyed area's at the bottom of the machine with the yellow on top. and washed it according to the instructions. I hung up the pillow cases on hangers and the duvet cover and sheet over the banister.

2 days later it was all finally dry and I could get it onto my bed and take photo's
 This is the sheet, as you can see the yellow is not so bright but it's still a very nice yellow and certainly suits the paintwork (not visible in this shot).
 Here it all is on my bed, the 6 pillow cases on the pillows, the duvet cover and the sheet hidden under it - it really brightens the room!
A side shot so you can see the colour changes on the cover.

Here is an attempt at showing the special thing that happens in artificial light - the yellow seems to change to a very light spring green - so wonderful that it changes like that! It's probably due to the excess blue dye when I put it in the washing machine.

All in all I'm happy with the results and I know I'll be using Dylon's hand dye dyes again - just on something smaller next time hehe.


  1. That is wonderful and so worth the effort. It all really looks so lovely and naturally it looks "professionally" done since you are just that way :D

    Now, come to my house and do that again with my bedding! ha ha!

  2. Thanks :) Well.. that's because I removed all the junk that had accumulated around my bed first lol I have to admit that a clutter free room is much nicer to sleep in though so I'm glad I did it :)

    I'm not sure my back can take it lol it's been a bit unhappy with me lately.

    1. Your bedroom is lovely! Funny how we all just let stuff pile up in there when really we don't do much in there but sleep or read!

      I can wait for your back to be better tee hee :D

    2. Thanks :) Some of it was painted that way when oldest was supposed to have the room when he was 2 but he hated the attic and was always scared there so in the end we swapped rooms. I've been working on making it a cosy room since I got the new furniture 2 years ago as I decided I deserved it :)

      I had a feeling you could lol.

  3. Oh, that's pretty! I'm not sure I'd ever dare to tackle an epic adventure like this, but it surely was worth the effort :D

    1. It's not something I'd suggest trying to do in anything smaller than a baby bath as you really need the space. Al;so if you ant a darker result use the correct amount of dye to water ratio ;)