The Joy of Creation: Hand-Dyeing

The Joy of Creation: Hand-Dyeing

dying garment

This is where it all started! My first experience in hand-dyeing was a happy accident, and initially I spent much of the time just experimenting with different dyes and techniques—but I quickly found the way I most enjoyed doing it. Using light colors and a single folding technique I was able develop combinations of wonderful pastels, from picture-perfect sky blues to rich pinks to smooth, cool mints.

During the dyeing process, I typically will dye five blankets at once—or one at a time if it’s a large item such as the 110in x 80in bedspread. I also use the Japanese tie and dye technique in the studio, taking a piece of fabric and twisting it from the middle, then fastening it with a tight rubber band. The fabric on the surface will be exposed to the opposite dyes as the fabric on the inside, creating more delightful color variations and intrigue within the design.

rubber on fabric
I often find that I have to experiment with different fabrics, as the dye gets absorbed differently depending on the fabric thickness. At times I will leave the fabric in for greater or lesser amounts of time depending on how dark I want the dye to appear in the final product. Structure and weaving also play important roles here, as do the type and texture of the fabrics being used.

dyes applied on different textures

This is true for both the fabric structure and the dye colors. With our cloudy collection, for example, I designed a special heavy cotton fabric that is weaved for us in India that gives me the exact texture and feel that I want for that particular collection. Every step can lead to a different result, so it’s both a surprise and an immense joy when you discover how the applied dye takes to each blanket.
Ultimately the many variations in the fabrics and dyes we use leads to a lot of experimentation in the studio—making the creation process that much more fun!

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