I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Discharge Dyeing

Right now I have dye buckets and dishes and measuring cups and dish pans and PVC pipe and measuring spoons and ice cream buckets of soda ash solution and colorful rags and all kinds of other fabric dyeing paraphernalia “decorating” my dining room, kitchen and maybe a few other spots in the house..When I get a few minutes and the urge, I mix up a bit of dye, manipulate some fat quarters of fabric and do a bit of dyeing. However, my last batch reminded me that using less than the perfect fabric is a waste of my time.

To say I was disappointed those results is about right. So, for now, those pieces  have been set aside until I feel ready to deal with them by over-dyeing, discharging or using some sort of stencil, stamp or brush on them.

In the meantime, to make myself get over that annoying sense of failure we Type A’s sometimes suffer when our results are not up to our own sometimes impossible standards, I decided to do a little discharge dyeing. Discharge dyeing is always a success because you cannot predict the results and what you get is always a wonderful, useful surprise. Or, at least that is what I tell myself!
I have a “reasonable” collection of fabrics so I scrounged up a hunk of black cotton from the stacks and using a 50/50 mix of water and bleach, I tried some folder and pleating and brushed my bleach solution on each piece. When I discharge fabrics, I watch closely for the process to start and then quickly rinse the fabric in a pan of cold water, then toss it in a stop bath of vinegar and cold water. Afterwards I wash it in hot water with Blue Dawn dish detergent, dry them, press them and then dream of where I can use these lovely fabrics.

As a point of reference, all these fabrics originated from that same piece of black in the photos. Which is one of the fun things about this process - the unpredictability of what you will uncover.


  1. Fascinating! I love them all!! Tell me, what is the reason for blue Dawn??

  2. Jennifer Scantlebury VienneauMay 23, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    You can buy all kinds of actual products for discharge dyeing, but I am not hard core enough to follow up since that is always a journey finding those items anywhere near here. I do have a product called Synthrapol which is a soap used for completing the rinse out wash when hand dyeing fabrics. It runs kind of expensive and sometimes solidifies a bit during winter shipping which is annoying. After reading up on Jane Dunnewold’s methods, she recommends Blue Dawn dish soap so I use it sometimes in place of the Synthrapol. And a really good thing about Blue Dawn is that you can buy it cheaply at the Dollarstore.