Dyeing to Have Fun!

Do you remember all the fun we used to have doing arts and crafts in primary school? Well, Julie Haddrick’s workshop, ‘Painted Sky Silhouettes’, took me right back to that happy place.

The first day of the workshop was spent playing with heliographic sun dyes, which are actually fabric paints that mimic the look of hand dyes. What’s special about these dyes is that they’re sun sensitive (heliographic). Once you’ve painted your fabric you can lay flattish objects (such as leaves, flowers, small pebbles/rocks, or paper shapes/templates) on it while it’s still wet, lay it in the sun to dry, and because the fabric under the items does not get as much sun you end up with a ‘ghost’ image of the item. Once dry, simply iron the fabric to finish setting the dye and make the colour/s and pattern permanent. You can create some very effective patterns using this resist technique.

This is a great activity to do with the kids on school holidays too. Start by taking the kids on a nature walk to collect relatively flat leaves, twigs, rocks, bark, flowers or anything else of interest. Then cut some black builder’s plastic (from Bunnings) a couple of inches larger than a piece of A4 paper. You’ll use the plastic to stop the dye seeping through your fabric and staining your table.

Next, cut some white PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric into pieces that are roughly the size of an A4 piece of paper. Julie recommended Emma Louise fabric. Place small amounts of 2-3 different colours on a smooth based plastic plate/tray and use your paint brush blend the dye with some water to dilute them. The more water you add, the lighter your dye colour will be and you will get the best effect by adding water to your brush first, then mixing it with the dye. Then let the kids at it.








Use paint brushes of varying sizes to paint the dye across your background fabric. A pastry brush is most effective to make broad, colour sweeps across the fabric. Once their fabric is completely covered, either with a single colour or a blend of colours, get them to lay the found items of their choice in a pattern they like across the fabric. Scrunching the fabric lightly in some places can also add some interesting patterning effects.

holiday-fun-3Lay the fabric pieces on a table in the sun, preferably out of the wind, and let them dry completely. Once dry, remove the found items to see the end result. Kids as young as 18 months and up to 15 years or more will have great fun making their own patterned fabric.

But the fun is not just for kids! We definitely had a ball at Julie’s workshop just playing with the dyes, fabric and found items ourselves. So what are you waiting for? Head on over to our website, choose some colours from our great range of sun dyes, and start playing yourself. You’ll be glad you did!


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