Textiles Art – Dyeing Fabric With Myfanwy Hart – Colouricious

hello today we're going to be speaking from a fanboy heart nummy fan we is a specialist in dying she loves to dye fabrics she is also a machine embroider and she's written a book about embellishing today though she's going to focus on the dyeing of fabrics when you're doing your masterpiece it's so much better to have a piece of fabric or piece of thread that you've actually dyed yourself that way you're in control of the colors that you want and the whole piece seems to put together much better on a tonal level in her demo today the family is going to teach us how to mix up cold water dyes and then to see how we get a whole range of different colors on the same piece of fabric according to the strength of the solution hello a family it's lovely to meet you could you firstly tell us a little bit about your work and how you became a textile artist right my influences go back right to my childhood I was brought up in a home with lots of embroidery around and the two pieces that I remember from them were an embroidery of Durham Cathedral and Fountains Abbey which were both made by my mother as she traveled in a lot in the back of a lorry from Harrogate town center out onto the moors where she was a radio operator she used to listen into German signals and she spent a lot of her time her free time stitching and she used to tell me stories of the the men also doing embroidery like that which quite inspired me but she had been taught to stitch by her mother who lived in the northeast of England and as you probably gathered from my name I have a Welsh background to my Welsh grandmother was a dressmaker very fine dressmaker she used to make bridal gowns and ball gowns and she also used to pass me special bits of fabric which I used to secrete and handle fondle one of my earliest memories is sleeping at my grandmother's my Welsh grandmother's underneath a Welsh a handmade Welsh quilt and it is a great sorrow to me now that we no longer have it I've no idea where it went when she died but in retrospect it would have been part of her trousseau and I really wish that we had it so what did you first stitch my very first stitching that taught stitching was at school when we did the inevitable cross stitch later on most people of my generation I think made the dreaded school apron I'm not absolutely certain that mine was ever finished because fortunately I moved schools and it wasn't necessary so you're a great authority in the world of dyeing fabrics could you tell us how you began dyeing fabrics City & Guilds is the introduction to dying for an awful lot of people and I have to say that when I completed my City & Guilds I was arrogant enough to think that I knew everything there is to know about dyeing I had been shown how to mix red blue and yellow to make Purple's oranges and greens I could make multi-coloured fabrics and I understood that if you put a solution on top it fixed and was set and that was it I could wash it and I could use it so could you tell me a little bit about the dyeing process itself you can use all sorts of different things to actually colour cloth the over the overruling it's not a very good color blackberry is it that doesn't show very well at all but yellow is possibly better these are food dyes just like you would use just like you would use for coloring your cake kool-aid not very readily available in the UK but certainly well known in the u.s. etc and the product that you would use would depend upon the fibers that you were you were dying I use fiber reactive dyes fiber reactive is a big family it's a bit like saying it's a cow Procyon is that the dye that most people use Procyon is a member of the fiber reactive family so it's a bit like saying it's a frisian okay so with the dyeing process the color mixing is very experimental is it yes it can be the important thing is to keep a constant if I'm dyeing a green color if I start with a blue I can mix either that yellow with it to make one range of greens or I can put that yellow with it and that boat of food dyes they're both food dyes but the colors the resulting colors will be different and actually if I then mixed the kool-aid with this food food dye that would give me a third range of greens in fact there are other ways to make greens that don't use yellow and blue but we won't go into that now so here we've got dyed threads and dyed fabrics what's the end result what do you turn them into well they can be used for all sorts of things um if I show you one of these for instance this is a bit of fun oh this this is all hand dyed all put into the dive off at one time it's basically a torn sheet an old sheet has to be 100% cotton to get a decent depth of die you can die polyester cotton but the polyester won't die with the fiber reactive dyes so you get a much more muted color range alright so we've got a tall sheet we've got this viscose ribbon and this the viscose ribbon has been woven across here and it's been made into a tassel here and the tall sheet has also been woven through here but the interesting thing is the background because the background is probably the cheapest thing that you we find a stitch on its a dishcloth and I've left in the orange stitching that was there just to prove that it was a dishcloth but I've removed the other bits which were here and down here they were bright blue and I didn't think they went with it so it's beautiful and it's all made from recycled materials well yeah it was a new dishcloth I didn't recycle the dishcloth but yes it's recycled I mean that's that such as Holland fabrics absolutely yes the important thing is to always plan your work whether you're just dying or just stitching plan it beforehand know exactly what you're going to do the design process is very important it gives you something to refer to all the time and I keep copious notes as far as certainly briefly as part as far as the dyeing is concerned I have just recently finished my first book of dye recipes and I'm really sorry to have had to move on to a second book because that book is really precious but it's important to write everything down and know what you're doing this one is is not yet finished but will be at some point hopefully this is again machine embroidery it's got some little fish here which our machine embroidered onto felt the felt for these was actually made from tumble dryer fluff so that but that was a little bit of recycling there and again my hand dyed threads but on the subject of tumble dryers fluff if we have a little delve under here we've got some tumble dryer fluff Oh in there in there as well and he's this is rather fun as far as recycling is concerned because it's got a vegetable net here the UM the beak and the legs are made from polythene bag so – are these pieces of machine embroider II and his little comb which is flexible is made by covering the ties from plastic bags do you know your metal ties with a pair of tights and I've sandwiched other bits and pieces inside so they actually they actually move over there you can check you know you could change his personality according to the whether you use the dyeing process in a lot of your work but is that something that anyone can do at home there are some processes that require quite dangerous chemicals a lot of heat etc etc and obviously those are not the sorts of things that we want to experiment with at home they need a very very controlled environment to do that but there are there are some techniques that we can use that use readily available dyes and also chemicals that are readily available and are not that that dangerous we're going to do some coal dying shortly cold water dying and we're going to use salt and soda those are the only chemicals that we are going to use basically what we're going to do is we're going to put the dye into water and the dye is going to think it's in heaven in total heaven because dye loves being in water so we are then going to put the dye on the fabric and at that point we're going to create an environment that the dye doesn't like because the dye will quite happily stay in the water and not go into the fabric so we're going to add a solution which includes salt the dye doesn't like the salt so once the salt gets into the water the dye is going to think I don't want to hang around here I want to go into the fabric it's going to rush into the fabric and at the same point it's going to be fixed by the soda that we're also adding as far as cold water dyeing is concerned you can get some lovely results you can get all sorts of excessive colors you can get subtle colors some which are really closely related some which are distinct contrasts which we've got somewhere yeah beautiful colors that they all match don't they well these were these were dyed specifically for in fact they were they were dyed with a scarf in mind so so they are all these are all related so how do you create this beautiful effect this mottled rainbow would you like to see yes I'd love to let's have a go it's very important that we prepare the fabrics that we're going to use now I've already done that for you but I want to show you these two pieces this one here is beautifully blue that one isn't quite so beautifully blue although the patterning is quite interesting and it could go on to be something else but this fabric was prepared only prepared by very hot washing with a normal washing powder so nothing complicated this one was not and you can see that large areas have resisted the dye and if we compare the two colors the dye is not as intense the color blue although it went through the same process is not as intense on that one as on this so that's a very important to know you must prepare the fabric first this is is an old sheet a bed sheet a bed sheet it's a cotton sheet being washed obviously but this is a very good way of recycling old sheets and things like that so that's what we're going to be using as well we're going to loosely scrunch it not too tightly at this point and put it in each pot okay and it doesn't matter you don't need to fold it we'll need to fold it or anything just put it in so the pots you can use any sort of pot can you you can use any sort of container the important thing to remember is that they can no longer be used for food use that is very important so we've each got nine fabrics a minor cream and yours are white so we'll know the difference when right so we're ready to put the color on we're going to use three colors we're going to use blue red and yellow we're going to mix blue and red to make purple and blue and yellow to make greens but we're not making one of each we're making a small selection we've also got some measuring cups these are just little these a little drinking cart again only a few pence each these are very good because they've got marks on we're going to utilize those grooves alright we're going to use those as our measuring so it takes away all the mathematics right let's make some space right so before we do anything let's put our rubber gloves on because fingers get stained very quickly I need to warn you Holly that these dyes are not to be taken lightly they're not to be they're certainly not to be handled by children or anything like that and I've got these in old drinks containers because I recycle all sorts but they are labeled with my color and my mixing so no one method piezo know not to drink them and absolutely and they are stored out of reach so my grandchildren can't get them etc etc so the first thing we're going to do then is use the blue dye and we're going to fill our container up to the top mark okay all right so we both use the same container I shouldn't really pour over our undyed bits and pieces I'll be honest so just to the top mark on just to the top mark being careful not to spill it of course yes so what is this dye is this approach and I we're using it's a pro C and dye a fiber reactive dye yes and this amount of dye is all that we need to put the blue color into all these pieces and this hasn't been diluted yet at the moment it's full strength so we need a second pot and we're going to now tip an amount that comes up to the blower mark it's almost just a way of measuring out thirds isn't it almost well it's almost it all knows almost equal oh of course yeah almost equal quantities okay now this single blue full-strength blue is going onto one of the pots on the side okay Wow goodness you can see it working already almost right okay okay we need to top this dye up to the original quantity okay so we're going to add just ordinary plain water straight from the tap straight from the tap up to that top level so now we have a container of half-strength die doing the same again okay half half to the bottom mark like that yes now now we're going to start our sequence okay right so now you're moving to the tray in front of you we want that half measure on the first okay half measure on this one fabric yup top up the blue again so what's happening is we're diluting we're diluting each measure by half okay so we've got half strength this is quarter strength and that's going on to the middle pot oh hang on I've topped that up top that up you want more together poured into there okay that goes into your middle pot okay to iron it up again we're topping up for the third time this is actually the last time we're going to top this up so the weakest solution is going on to the final pot okay oh yes I can see the difference in color actually now we've still got some color left in here and a lot of people will throw that away it's a total waste there are several things we can do with that but we haven't got time today so just for speed what we're going to do now is put this amount onto one of these others over here which is waiting patiently right and that's the end of the first part of the first sequence we're now going to put the yellow dye on but we're doing a slightly different sequence to the one we've just done we're doing it in Reverse so we've got our full amount of yellow once again half quantity of full strength dye okay so fill it up right to the top right to the top there and now pour half into your other pot okay and half goes on the weakest strength of blue so the paler shade of blue the peel it paid us strength of blue that you've got there I care you're right just pour it on and it does not matter how you pour it on you'll see I've got little bits of blue yeah it looks lovely still showing that's absolutely fine now we're going to top up again so this now becomes harvest raise now half strength so here we've got eighth strength blue with full strength yellow this is quarter strength blue and we're going to put half strength yellow on it and again watch how it mixes I love it it's amazing it just changes color straight away and the hints of blue that you can still say is really beautiful so last last little bit there and that goes on to that blue and this little bit here that we don't want to meet to waste goes on top of the blue okay over here not the full strength blue nope the one that we put on one side so that's the end of our first sequence we're now going to do exactly the same we're going to mix the red and the blue but we are going to put our first amount of blue onto this stronger blue we want to have it mottled so if we add a second amount of blue on to this as it mixes through we will get shades of blue within that piece of fabric okay all right so would you like to go first this time yeah so I'm filling up again so just as I did just as you did before using a clean container right up to the top and then half into your second measure and this is one of the measures we're going to put in the original blue one of those yes I'll show you look because you'll be surprised even at this stage if I pour my blue onto there it actually becomes much more intense immediately and we are getting two shades of blue there aren't we I've still got some areas of white which are going to be quite interesting when we get to the next part of the process so now we're going to top up again dry top you up thank you and this half measure is going on to the first of the new undyed fabrics so we're doing exactly the same as we did before but the reason it's going to be different is we're going to add a red to it this time exactly okay can you top this up I have to say that when I'm dying in my studio which I should at this point admit is the bath right that at the top so I I actually find when I'm dying at home normally I've I actually find this process quite contemplative I can not think about other things but I do find that other things come into my mind and I get inspiration for all sorts of things the last one goes onto your odd piece so it's a very therapeutic process very therapeutic very therapeutic indeed and it creates such beautiful colors which of course you can use for so many things right now we're going to use the last color here which is this red okay the red is quite an intrusive dye which is the reason I've left it until the end if you put it on first it will often fight its way into the fiber as long before the other colors get a chance to take any effect whatsoever so that's why I've left the red till last all right so once again top it up you know what to do this time doing I do I think I go around I'll just let you do it see you know what you're doing I don't so red tends to be a very strong color does it compared to it is a strong color yeah within the dyeing process definitely so you want that unlike your lightest blue yes so we're mixing you're using a strongest with the weakest the middle with the middle and the weakest with the strongest yes okay absolutely so I'll just do this quickly yes and then this one goes on there does it that one yes that one goes on there so you've got a week yes those are equal quantity what we don't tell because it was just five it look at these colors beautiful gorgeous right so now we put we'll put the dyes away we don't need our measuring jug anymore we don't need the water anymore okay so move all those out of the way so now we're going to put the fixative on all right we've ordered the chemicals in these containers we've got an equal mix of salt ordinary cooking salt and soda washing soda topped up with water if you're using something like the dial on dyes the fixative is actually already in the dye so you only need salt but for our purposes we have got the fixative in the dye so we have to introduce it so we aren't all we're going to do now is just top these up okay this is where most people panic because as soon as you apply this the color changes but that doesn't matter it's just the effect that the chemicals are having just go with it yawn it's not going to alter the final result you can actually see you can actually see that there are some still some gaps with air so I have my special little stick the cocktail stick and if you very carefully pop that down the side I probably need to put it on a firm surface to do this you can just force it down which just helps the bubbles to come to the top and it brings up the dye we're going to leave it for three hours until the dye has completely exhausted the soda is now fixing it so it will no longer work after three hours and then we'll get it ready for see okay so three hours later holy here we are I'd normally do this in a sink so this is just to make it slightly clearer I'm first of all just going to tip away and it just makes it easier now so we've got some water in here and we're going to start the rinsing process it will take a while to rinse and if it's fabric it can it can ultimately go into the washing machine but you'll be surprised at if you put that in there I'll kick here water but it's surprising there shouldn't be too much waste another squeeze that out can we'll get some fresh water and we'll keep going till the waters clear okay here we go fresh water straight back in straight back in swish it around now look at the difference yet barely any dye in the water this time I suppose we need to do it three or four times I would I would do it at least that yes just to be sure here so we have to continue till the waters running clear and then we have to do the same with all the other pots and then we'll hang them on the line to dry and we will end up with sequences of greens pieces of purples and I want to show you this one here's the blue if you remember we put two measures of blue on so that we got a mottled effect and you can see that we've got different intensities of blue within the plain piece I can't wait to experiment with more colors and create some really beautiful coordinating fabrics to use in all my textile projects I look forward to seeing them Holly


  1. crazyg74

    Well I found myself here after watching several videos about darkening jeans. This video was especially informative but I cannot help but admit that I was most taken by the delightful (and frankly gorgeous) young lady hosting it.

  2. Michelle Johnson

    Hi Myfanwy, I am a complete beginner to dyeing and newbie quilter wanting to create my own colours for landscapes, but please could you explain when you say in the video about your dyes in liquid form in the milk cartons are at full strength, do you mix them yourself or are they bought pre-mixed that way, and if you do mix each colour what strength are they before you start to dilute them further by half each time please? I guess I mean what ratio are the primary colour dyes to water. Thank you.

  3. Ink & Stitches

    This is absolutely beautiful! I love color and getting to see how Myfanwy gets her fabrics dyed was a treat. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Meher Shawoan

    Hello , I am Shawoan from Bangladesh. I want to know how do I variegated thread color at home? It's really hard you can say impossible to find cotton variegated thread. So I want to do it at home . Can you help me?

  5. gillian bc

    I'm going to try this. Lovely mottled colours for quilting projects. Can you remind me what the quantities of salt and washing soda are please?

  6. Ellen Birnbaum

    Myfanwy Hart you are an amazing teacher. I can't imagine anyone not getting inspiration from this video. I wish you were here in the U.S. so my friends and I could benefit from your clear and concise methods. How do you mix your dyes?
    thank you for this fabulous video

  7. hudsonsailor54

    How wonderful and inspiring. My welsh great grandmother was named Myfanwy and I have always loved that name. I need to get out some fabric and start creating colors.

  8. Angelchakra

    This is fantastic! So much inspiration from this – I can't wait to get my dyes out and I am ordering your book and this DVD as soon as I get paid! Thank you for this great video – the finished pieces are gorgeous! 😀 Kate x


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *