how to dye silk

How to dye silk for leaves in bulk

As you know making flowers is a lengthy process with a number of steps involved like cutting out parts, dyeing, shaping, assembling etc.
Although there is not a great deal we can do about speeding this lengthy process up, however there are a few shortcuts that allow us, makers, save a bit of time creating beautiful hand made flower masterpieces.

When it comes to dyeing, one thing you can and should do is to dye your petals in small piles (usually it is 2 or 4 depending on the thickness and stiffness of your chosen fabric). But what about foliage? Similarly, leaves can be dyed in piles, too if the fabric allows you.

Alternatively, you can use the method I am describing below, which is dyeing larger pieces of fabric to be cut up for leaves, calyxes, stems etc later on.

This method comes particularly handy when:
1. you've got a lot of foliage to make for your project
2. the leaves etc are of a small size
3. you want to dye some fabric for future projects in advance
This method is also useful when you want to dye some fabric for fantasy flowers (see the very end of the video).
In this video I am using 3 different shades of green from paler lime one through to dark olive green.
You will see that I also add a little purple colour to my fabric. This is done to tie the foliage with the petals of your flower and is often a very good idea to bring the whole flower piece together, but can be omitted.
I am dyeing a rectangular piece (about 20 cm by 30 cm) of factory stiffened rayon satin (see at the end of the post) which is known for its beautiful soft shine and is easy to dye. If you have not got any, feel free to use pure silk satin or dupioni silk, or other fabric that suits your project (like cotton velvet etc).
Here are a couple of points I'd like to draw your attention to before you watch the video:
❀ Work on old newspapers or use some drawing paper
❀ Wet the whole piece of fabric with your brush and some clean water before dyeing
❀ Apply dyes in random misshapen spots similar to the camouflage fabric and blend their edges together
❀ Avoid clearly visible stripes or circles of dyes on your fabric
❀ Repeat the process of applying the dyes for more intensely coloured fabric as shown in the video
❀ Take into account that when dry the fabric will look paler than wet
❀ Whilst drying the dyes will blend even better with each other to provide a subtle gradation of colour
❀ Use already stiffened fabric for dyeing to avoid losing any colours in the stiffening process
❀ After the fabric has dried completely use it to trace and cut out all the leaves and other parts required for your project as normal

Below are the links to some ready stiffened fabrics and special fabric brushes available from my online shop.
Have fun dyeing your fabrics!

Cotton Velvet

cotton velvet fabric

Horse Hair Brushes

silk painting brushes

Rayon Satin

rayon satin fabric

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