I have a small group of friends that I used to work with and we all get together each month for drinks and to catch up. Sometimes we do other things together but the monthly catch up is our thing. There are 6 of us and we've been getting together pretty much since I retired in 2010. We exchange Christmas gifts each year. Kim, Lora and Mary always make homemade treats that Chris really enjoys. Kim makes amazing peanut brittle. Lora makes a yummy coffee chocolate bark and Mary makes killer Rum Balls and cookies. Mitzy and Susan always come up with something really clever and I always make something. I've done coasters (2 ways), potholders (need to do those again), dyed socks, dyed scarves, soap and lotion, glass dishes......I can't even remember everything. I've even made tea towels before but it was a long time ago. I know that because the ones I made for myself from that year are worn out.
This year is tea towel year again and these are the 5 sets I selected, from the 10 sets I made, that I will gift to my friends this evening.
Here's how I make them.
I use stencils and screens and a product called Jacquard Color Magnet. If' you have been around the blog for a while you will know that I use this often. I have pretty severe allergies to the VOCs in fabric paints so this is the absolute safest way for me to get imagery on cloth. It's limiting because the results is tone on tone, but it doesn't fade over time like paints often does.
The Color Magnet is bright yellow and the consistency of mucous. It's really slimy. It works best with screen printing but I have more holiday themed stencils than screens and I had to figure out the best way to apply it with a screen. I made a sample cloth a couple of weeks ago trying a few different methods and the best, by far, was using a dense sponge and sponging the stuff on.
You have to be very careful using this product because once it touches the fabric it's on there. You really can't successfully wash it out. So any spatters or drips are going to show. Over time I've just learned to embrace that feature.
Having a print surface is very helpful but you can't use the same print surface without letting it completely dry out between uses. Otherwise any bleed through of the product will stick to the next towel and it will show in the dyeing. I have a random roll of batting (that I probably was given or picked up cheap somewhere) that's thin polyester with a scrim. It's pretty useless for most things but it makes a great print surface. I cut 5 pieces of that and I printed 5 towels at a time. I did 5 a day giving the print pads a full day to dry before I did the next set of 5. It worked great because I was usually bored with the stenciling process after 5 towels anyway.
This is what they look like after they are printed and while still wet. Once the dry the yellow image is very pale.
Then you dye! This process works with pale colors. The dye magnet picks up most of the excess dye that didn't stick to the fabric and that's how you get a darker image. But if you dyed the item dark, then the image would not show well at all. Yellows and oranges don't really show up well either. I think it works best with blues, greens, purples, reds, grays, tans.....
This process also works best with full immersion dyeing but I wanted some texture in the background so I used my normal low-water immersion. In one particular bin, because of the way I had the fabric arranged, the images didn't develop as well as I wanted. But I thought I knew a trick to deal with that.
In my early days of using this product I learned that the Color Magnet keeps working for a few washes. I learned the hard way that I cannot put all of the colors together in one wash cycle because the items keep picking up dye and the images turn gray. I have to do the soak process by color. For the ones that didn't absorb as much dye as I wanted, I rinshed them enough to get the soda ash out and then put them in a bin of water with some green dye. The printed areas all took up more dye and the images became clearer. Because there was no soda ash, the rest of the towel didn't absorb any discernable additional dye.
Here are all 10 designs that I made using every stencil and screen that I had in my stash that was remotely holiday themed. I made 2 of each design. The 5 at the top of the page are the ones I selected to give my friends this evening.
These are probably my 3 favorite designs. The snowflake stencils worked really well and I like the other two with the blue middle bit and the green edges. I'll probably keep one of these sets for myself.
Next up in the Christmas making department is tie dye tshirts. I've got 2 weeks to get those done.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.