To Cut or Rip – That is the Question

I have been wondering just how Melissa at Fabric Dyeing 101 prepares her fabric peices for dyeing – that is does she cut or rip them into fat quarters, fat eigths etc or does she dye larger peices of fabric then cut them into smaller peices?

Melissa has kindly answered my seemingly endless questions on her blog and you can see what she does here and I must admit I found it fascinating.

I started off ripping fabric into five metre lengths, washing it, then cutting (using a rotary cutter) it into half metres then fat quarters, but it seemed to be very akward and frustrating for me – particuarly if I hadn’t been careful enough hangning it on the clothes line and it was slightly crooked.

Then I tried ripping it into one metre lengths and washing it which worked better, but I still found the fabric sometimes didn’t hang or lie straight which made cutting it into the fat quarters difficult.

In then end I found that if I cut the fabric into half metre lengths straight of the bolt with the rotary cutter then folding three or four peices of fabric selvedge to selvedge and cutting on the half way mark – I had nice fat quarters which I would then prewash. It didn’t seem to make any more difference to the fraying of the fabric when I preswashed it and I have found that when washed (after being dyed) there was no further noticable difference to the fraying. As an added bonus I found then when it came time to press and trim up the fat quarters all ready for presentation they were reasonably straight and a minimal amount of fabric was lost in the tidying up and it saved me some time as well.

Melissa suggested numbering the fabrics (in her instructions on how to dye fabrics) so you know which is which. Now I started doing that but found that I then had to cut into the fabric to provide my fabric swatches for my recipe book which then meant I had stack of fabric in my cupboard – always a pleasant sight – but not much to put away ready to sell. A light bulb moment happened (about 3 am if I remember rightly…grin). I now sew a small square of fabric (approx 2 inches square) to the top right hand corner of each fat quarter using a big machine stitch. This is then numbered with the recipe number and fabric number and then all the fabrics are put in to be prewashed before dyeing. It means a bit of sorting out – expecially when I am doing heaps – but in the end I have a nice square of fabric as a sample which dyes up the same as the main peice of fabric plus a whole fat quarter to possibly sell at a later date. I have found I can get quite a production line happening and it means less confusion for me later on. Ohh and I haven’t found that the line of sewing hasn’t meant a line where the dye hasn’t taken. Using a big stitch means that the sewing thread is easy to pull out when I’m ready to update my recipe book.

I have also discovered (yes another light bulb moment) that dyeing using only one dye recipe and its varations – is heaps easier on the brain then doing multiple recipes all the same day. Inevitably somewhere along the line I get muddled up – despite my best attempts at bookwork and recording notes – and I am left scratching my head wondering which peice of fabric belongs to which note.

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