Fabric Patterning Techniques

Or, Why Are Your Hands That Funny Color?

2017 was the year I to used wax resist to pattern fabric.  A technique I learned from Malka Dubrawsky on Craftsy.

While it was a giant mess, and I learned not to throw the waxy water down the drain; it was a lot of fun looking for things to stamp on the fabric.

There were triangles and rectangles made from cardboard.  Coffee cans with the ends cut off.  I even used cookie cutters.  The most popular was the paint brush dragged from end to end of the fabric to make lines.  Potatoes, carrots and celery also made good stamps.

I found that glass didn’t work because it didn’t get hot enough, but a Tjanting tool made interesting designs.  It’s kind of like a pipe that you dip in the melted wax and then draw lines on the fabric.  Still trying to get a handle on that technique.

With my first batch, I discovered that you really need to dissolve the salt and make sure the dye and soda ash are well mixed.  I got some interesting textures that way.  I’ll say, I meant to do it.

Another thing I learned was that you need tightly woven cotton otherwise the wax will not completely wash out.  Even quality quilting cotton is not a guarantee.

I mostly used white Pima cotton but I also experimented with some red and black quilting cotton.  I was surprised to learn that when I discharged the color from the red, it turned a peachy color.  Black denim turned a khaki color when I soaked it in bleach and vinegar—not at the same time, of course.

Ice dyeing also peaked my interest.  My first foray with the ice, I used some hemp canvas.  Just soak it in soda ash for about a half an hour and then crumple it up; lay it on a grate (in my case, it was a plant carrier from the nursery); dump a bag of ice—or the contents of your freezer—on top of the fabric; then sprinkle fiber reactive dyes all over it.  It needs to sit covered for 24 hours.  I’ve done it twice.  I think the next time, I will try crushed ice to see if that will give me a different effect.

The fiber reactive dyes work well with the Shibori method.  Especially since the canvas I use might not be tightly woven.  I can’t wait to use these in some handbags in 2018.  I sent them off to Texas to be hand waxed by A.L Frances Textiles.

For the start of this year, our quilt guild will be stamping fabric to use in the next challenge.  I spent the day working on different shapes and designs.

Here’s to a creative 2018!