COLOUR!! Procion and Disperse Dyes - Experimental Textiles 4 session 6. November 21st and 22nd.

Transfer print decorated with organza bonded applique.

Being able to colour/dye and print your fabric is very important if you want your work to be different. In my teaching I strive to help my students create original work. It is my passion. So this session is very important, dyeing natural fabrics (Viscose, cotton, silk)with procion dyes and synthetics with disperse/transfer dyes. It takes a lot to organise but is soooo worth it.

The group sorting all their fabrics and putting them in their plastic bags.

Learning how different types of fabric take the dye is great fun. I use the dyeing in a plastic bag method for this. We don't need yards of fabric to give us the information we need. I use Ruth Issett's book Colour on Paper and Fabric for all the dye recipes. It is now out of print but can still be bought quite reasonably. I always refer to Ruth's books, having done several summer schools with her, I know her systems work - she is the Queen of Colour!!

Getting the procion dyes ready.

Once the dyes are mixed and 'live' the group added the dye to their bags - then they had to wait . . . I usually say leave it for 12 hours. You know the dye is spent by then.

Once the bags of fabric and dye are safely stowed away in cat litter trays or plastic washing up bowls, there isn't much you can do but wait. So we got on with painting the disperse/transfer dye onto paper ready to transfer with heat the next day.

Painting up papers with disperse/transfer dye.

The group enjoyed spending the rest of Saturday afternoon painting their papers. A bit like play school, it didn't matter what they looked like we just needed the paper to be covered in colour.

As it was our last session before Christmas the group decided it would be a great idea for us all to go out to dinner that night . . .

The ExTex 4 girls at a local hostelry . . . we had a great evening.

Despite having a reasonably late night - the girls were in before time on Sunday morning - and Catherine had stayed up to rinse her procion dyed fabrics and iron them dry - she couldn't wait . . .

Catherines dyed natural fabrics - they turned out well.

Once we had all thoroughly enjoyed looking at Catherine's fabrics we got on with the task for the day - transfer printing with disperse dyes. The papers the group had printed the day before were now dry and ready to print onto synthetic fabrics.

Caroline using the heat press.

We also used irons to transfer the dye from the papers to the fabrics.

Disperse dyes or transfer paints as they have become known, are transferred from paper to synthetic fabric with heat. You can use an iron, but it can be a bit time consuming. However, it is a great way to learn, you have more control. 
The IDC studios have a heat press which makes very short work of transfer printing. You get bright, almost shocking prints on your fabric.

Anna surveying one of her prints.

Newspaper was used to protect the tables while the group painted their papers. This was a print of 'run of' dye on the newspaper.

Using kitchen towel to soak up spills and dye residue can be very useful, this print is from a piece of kitchen towel used to soak up spills.

Letting the dye run on the paper.

More drips . .

Using grasses, leaves and feathers as resists.

We are now over half way through the course - there are a mere 3 more sessions to go before the course finishes in March. The girls are all now communicating with each other outside of the sessions and get on very well together when they work as a group. I love watching them interact.

Caroline and Nadine enjoying a chat over the book table.

Once the group had printed piles of synthetic fabrics, I managed to stop them (eventually) as we had another techniques to try. Cutting applique shapes with a soldering iron. Bondaweb was ironed onto the back of a print. (the backing paper is left on). Shapes were then cut from this using a soldering iron instead of a pair of scissors. It is a great way to learn control with a soldering iron. If you press too hard and go through the backing paper - it is easy to see.

Some of the girls working with the soldering irons.

You can see the shape on the right was cut and lifted out of the fabric on the left.

More shapes cut and then applied to another fabric.

As the cut shapes already have Bondaweb on the back - they can be ironed onto a background fabric - it is a quick and easy technique - always use backing parchment to protect your iron when you iron your applique shapes in place.

A few of the applique samples . .

We had a great weekend, the girls worked hard and have the prospect of rinsing all their natural fabrics. I wish I could see their faces . . Several members of the group live a great distance from The Old Needle works and stay overnight at one of the local hotels. They had to very careful how they packed all the bags of wet, dyed fabrics in their cars. Trisha travels down from Scotland by train!!!

If you are interested in the course we are now enrolling for 2016/2017. The course runs from June - March. It will be the last time I run Experimental Textiles in this format and we can only take a maximum of 10 students.
For more information go to
to enrol go to - 

If you have questions about the course, do email me at


I am writing this post in my room in my hotel in Harrogate, Laura and I have just set up the Freudenberg Vilene Retail stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show at the Harrogate International Centre. I love this show, it's a beautiful town and we will be surrounded by so many of our friends. 
I will do a quick post in the next couple of days to show you what is going on. For more informal updates you can go to my Facebook page -

 Watch this space . . .


Hello Diana, we will talk soon, Hello Tod we have spoken and HELLO Jill, can't wait to see you - squeeeeeeaaaalllll!


  1. Three more sleeps, Katherine is leaving a hug with you for me, could you return the favour please and then get two (at least) monster ones from me xxx

  2. And now I have even more books on reserve from the local library! Thanks . . . I think.


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