Monday, August 19, 2013

My DIY Woven Wrap and Grad Dye- Part 2

Moving on to the fun part!  Color.  In my part 1 post I went over babywearing in general, fabric choice, and prepping my fabric.  Next it was time to dye, and since I've never dyed anything before, I was nervous.  And I experimented (and failed), but I did my best to fix my mistakes and while it's not perfectly smooth, I have to say I love love LOVE my colors!!  I'm so excited.


I did tons and tons of reading, asked questions of experienced dyers, and spent way too much time in a Dyed Baby Carriers Facebook group.  Then I went shopping for equipment.

  • Rubbermaid storage tub (I got the tallest one I could find, and I figured the dark purple wouldn't show staining)
  • Tension rod
  • Salt- lots and lots of salt
  • Soda Ash (aka pH+ for your pool)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bucket 
  • Diaper sprayer (optional)
  • Wooden utensil for stirring that is now for dye only and no food
  • Hangers
  • Hanger clips*
  • Dye** 

*You can use pant hangers with clips already on them, or binder clips, or perhaps clothespins, but it has to be strong.  This much fabric gets heavy when it's wet and you don't want it falling in and ruining your grad!

**I used Dylon because I could find it at Joann's.  My fabric (weighed on my kitchen scale) was just under 2 lbs so I started with 4 packets of dye; 2 Flamingo Pink and 2 Intense Violet.  I ended up buying more to redo my dyeing, but that comes later.

The setup:

My dye attempt #1 was done post-bedtime in my kids' bathroom.  So it's late at night, crappy bathroom lighting.  Plus, I am nowhere near being a photographer of any sort so you're stuck with what I could manage picture-wise.  Sorry.

I hung the damp wrap along one rail, accordion folded in the hangers.  I think there were like 3 layers of fabric on each hanger.  Then I held the wrap in the tub and set the tension rod up so the bottom rail of the wrap hung about an inch above the bottom of the tub.  I ended up using spare hanger clips to keep the ones holding the wrap from sliding back and forth on the hanger, but when I re-did my dyeing I found that rubber bands were much easier and worked much better.

I used a bucket because it made the math and measuring easier.  I measured out 2 gallons (by filling a gallon jug with water and dumping it into the bucket) and marked the outside of the bucket so I had a reference for filling.  In each 2 gallon bucket of hot water I added 1 lb of salt (4 cups) and 2/3 cup of the pH+.  I'd stir to dissolve the salt and soda ash and dump that into tub with the wrap and the dye.  I think it took about 4 gallons to cover the bottom rail an inch or two.  I mixed 2 packets of dye in a jar with hot water to dissolve it, then carefully poured it in with the wrap, then set my timer for 5 minutes.  While I was waiting, I got another 2 gallons of water ready with the salt and soda ash.  When the timer went off, I carefully poured in the water (trying to avoid splashing), re-set my timer, and got the next bucket ready.

Somewhere in this process I realized that the center of the wrap was well above the top of the tub I was dyeing in.  So when the tub was filled, at the next 5 minute mark I lowered the tension rod a few inches- not exactly easy, let me tell you- and continued that way until the middle.  Then my pink was done!!  It looked pretty good, and it was time to rinse.  And rinse.  And rinse and rinse and rinse.  It felt like it took forever for the water to run clear, and I was sweating and aching from all of the wringing and working with the heavy, wet fabric.

By this time, it was late, I was tired, and I got lazy.  This was a mistake.  I could have just closed the bathroom door and waited to do the purple side until the next day but I was all "I need to do this tonight and it will be so awesome!!" so I took shortcuts that came back to bite me in the ass.   I decided that the tension rod and accordion fold and hangers were just too much work, so I just folded the wrap up and laid it in the tub. I even thought I was clever for using the tension rod to hold the wrap in the middle of the tub instead of against the side! Then I proceeded with the Intense Violet dye in the same adding water method I used on the pink side.

That's a white tee on the other side of the bucket.  I was tempted by all that dye water just sitting there, lol.

I didn't take pictures of the resulting purple, but it was awful.  It was soooo uneven, splotchy, and there were huge sections that weren't dyed at all because the fabric folded all over itself kept the dye out of the middle sections.  I was so upset.  I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed, and decided I had to redo the purple.

The next day I lugged the kids to Wal Mart to stock up on salt and more soda ash and then I set everything up in my bathroom (more room, better light) and went to my dye stash to see I didn't have enough purple!  But I did have one extra packet of Flamingo Pink.  Even though I liked the look of the pink side of my wrap, I figured I'd overdye to make it deeper and maybe blend some of the lines.  So I filled the tub (I wasn't doing a grad this time, I was just redyeing the entire side), set up my tension rod and hangers, and overdyed the pink with one packet of dye.  Not enough to totally change the look, but enough to make it brighter and richer.

Then I figured out a genius way to rinse without having to work out while doing it! We have a stall shower (in the same bathroom as the shower/tub combo, I don't get it but whatever) so I put the tension rod across the top of the shower, hung the wrap in the middle, and just turned the shower on!  It rinsed the wrap, all the excess dye went down the drain, and I was able to do other things.  I'm really quite proud of myself for it.

Later that day I loaded up the kids again and made a Joann's run for more purple dye.  Then I waited for bedtime so I could work without my little helpers.  This time I was much less exact, even though I was meticulous with using the tension rod and hangers, lol.  I added more water per level, used 3 packets of dye, and was really just hoping for enough pigment to even everything out.  Then I set it up in the shower to rinse.

It was so much better!!!  I'm thrilled.  It's not perfect, I have some fuchsia lines where the pink particles floated to the top of the purple dye (I'm not sure what I did wrong there, maybe I needed to stir more frequently?)  I laid it out along my stair railing to dry overnight.

At this point I was unsure of the colors.  And please excuse my non-vacuumed, cluttered hallway.
The next day I cut tapers, pressed, and hemmed.  There are a couple places on the hem that have some looping from the bobbin, so I'm going to rip out those sections and go over them.  I used purple thread for my hem.  Note: if you want to hem before you dye, make sure you use 100% cotton thread.  Polyester thread won't take the dye.  Since I did my hemming after dyeing, I didn't have to worry about my thread's fiber content.

Today, I wanted to try out my wrap!  The more I look at it the more I love it; the colors are just amazing and it's 100% my style.  I had to chase down M to get her on my back since they were running around in the backyard and playing in the pool and I have a migraine so we both look a little rough, lol.  But my wrap is gorgeous!!

Yes, the camera is resting on top of my grill.  I don't have a tripod.
So there you have it!  My long, tedious adventure and I am absolutely thrilled with the results.  I can't wait to do it again, but I think it would be more fun with a friend or two to work with.  Next time I make a wrap I think I might shoot for 25"-28".  This finished product is 30" and even wrapping my toddler there's a lot of width to work with.

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  1. It looks really good! I wish I had thought of the rubber band idea on the clips! Mine kept moving around! I also think I didn't stir enough because I have spotting and a little discoloration on the darkest rail of my wrap, too.


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