Posts Tagged ‘mixing colors’

I’ve noticed with recent sewing projects that I’ve been drawn towards light value colors, or the neutral colors. I’ve also noticed my stash of neutral fabrics decreasing as each project is completed. Last weekend, when I got the urge to dye fabric and suddenly found myself with a free Saturday, my thoughts went immediately to dyeing more neutrals.

IMG_5761I think hand dyeing neutral fabrics is one of the unique reasons to dye fabric in the first place; the incredible range of colors and values you can get with mixing your own dye is limitless. What is the best way to dye a neutral color you say? Mixing three primaries, red, yellow and blue. Of course the amount you mix of each changes your neutral color, to range from a red brown to a golden brown to a blue gray to a green gray . . .

IMG_5084Some time ago, I think back in February, I spent another Saturday dyeing fabric. I was eager to try the Outdoor Flat Dyeing method, featured in the June/July 2012 issue of Quilting Arts, of Robin Ferrier. I had also recently purchased on a whim the Fall Pantone colors from Dharma.

photoI’ve never previously purchased mixed colors from Dharma. I’ve always mixed my own colors from the three primary colors. But the Falltones mix seemed fun and varied, so I thought I’d give it a go.

IMG_5092Unfortunately, as happens in the spring in the Eastern Sierra, the Saturday I set out to try this new outside dyeing method was extremely windy. It was the most stressful, frantic, and messy dyeing experience I’ve ever had. The wind blew the plastic and dye over everything.

IMG_5083Once started though, I couldn’t stop, as the fabric was pre-soaked in soda ash and the dye colors mixed. I forged ahead and persevered. The wind not withstanding, I was not very happy with my results. I was shocked by the deepness of color. Perhaps already then my penchant for bright colors was lessening as I continued to be drawn towards more muted colors. I now have over 10 yards of dyed Falltone colors. Perhaps the fabric will make good backs for quilts or linings for bags. (Note: lessons learned are to not choose a windy day, make sure you have a large table to work on, and personally, I’d reduce the amount of dye powder suggested per cup of water.)


Now back to this last weekend. As I pondered the neutral fabric I wanted to mix, I thought, why not use the powder from the Falltones! Learning from my past experience, I used a very diluted amount of dye powder to get the lighter colors I was hoping for. Completely at random, I chose three dye powders from the Falltone set and mixed them together. While not truly a neutral color, the result was a lovely range of muted tones. For each, I dyed three different values, decreasing in brightness, for more varied color. When I finished the rinsing and drying and ironed the swatches out flat, I was more than pleased with the result.

IMG_5753Exactly what I was hoping for when I started out in the morning. Unique. Solid. Mouth-watering. I was unstoppable. I wanted to do more! So I cut up another few yards, and kept going. With this next batch, I chose two colors I hadn’t used yet from the Falltones, Brushed Steel (silver) and Caffeine Buzz (brown), and reduced them to lighter shades. As well, I mixed another random neutral using equal amounts of Jungle Red, Brilliant Yellow, and Blueberry.

IMG_5756The result? A more somber set of neutrals, still equally mouth-watering and brilliant in their simplicity.

IMG_5758I keep track of all my dye experiments with notes like this, in case I ever want to go back and duplicate a color in larger quantities, or to use as inspiration for what worked or how to do something different. In these particular notes, I included the original Falltone colors that made each run of neutral color.

IMG_5759Here are all 27 colors mixed together. Don’t the duller neutrals just make the brighter neutrals pop?! Never underestimate the power of adding a neutral to your palette.

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