Preparing to Make Advent Stoles

I thought I'd give you  a sneak peek at the fabric dying process we're using in preparing, designing and sewing for Advent. We don't often dye our own fabric but we really enjoy the process. I think it takes me back to the many years that I painted with watercolors. 

The white cotton fabric is first soaked in a bath of soda ash. If you're a chemistry type this is actually sodium carbonate. It actually activates the fiber molecules so that they can chemically attack the dye so it's more reactive. Is that too much information? 

The wet fabric is set on a rack on top of a tray and is then covered with ice cubes.

Powdered dye is sprinkled over the ice. As the ice melts the colors will mix. The fun part with this step was when the construction worker who was doing his thing in front of my studio saw the wet purple-y fabric and asked if I was making elderberry wine! We had a good chuckle. Then when I explained that I was a fiber artist and I did work for clergy and this was part of my preparation for Advent another of the guys asked what Advent was. That was an unexpected little moment of evangelism!

24 hrs. later the fabric looks like this. It gets rinsed and then washed.

And we then end up with THIS! It looks so pretty in the garden I might have to wait to bring it inside to cut (tee hee!)