Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A bit of fur dyeing that went horribly wrong!

Yesterday I had nothing to do. Well, besides taking care of a 3 month old and a 21 month old... but that's a piece of cake, right!?

All my bear making things were packed up and ready to come with me to the school talk I did this morning (which was awesome by the way! I might have some photos to share in the next few days, maybe!).

So I decided to try and spice up this piece of dull brown wool-pile fur. I've never worked with a wool pile before... I figured it would dye much the same as mohair. Silly assumption number one!

This is the fabric all nice and soggy, waiting for the first lot of colour (the 'suntan' pot). It really was quite a pleasant tan-brown here...

This is how crazy the 'suntan' colour looked once I'd mixed it through. I was expecting an orangy/ginger colour. This looks a little like beetroot soup!

After a few hours of soaking in 'Suntan', I rinsed it out. At the time it didn't seem to have made any difference at all, but looking back at the photos, it had actually given it a richer tone. This would have been the point to stop and cut my losses. I should have realised that wool does not dye the same as mohair at this point also. But no, I was a little slow!

My brilliant idea was to make the next colour 'wine' super concentrated by only mixing enough water to fill the tiny container the dye powder comes in. (The instructions tell you to use a bucket full!). My reasoning was that this super-sludge would certainly dye the fabric.

I decided to paint it on in splotches. I imagined a beautiful piece of fur with gently blending patches of ruby red and ginger gold...

The splotches didn't work. They all bled together, so I decided to just mix it all around and turn the fur pile downwards to try and get it exposed to the most dye mix.

I rinsed it out after a few hours like this. ALL of the colour ran down the drain. I looked at the fur in the dim light of the laundry and was pretty disappointed. It had a subtle pinky tone to the fur, but was in essence still just brown!

The backing took up the splotchy wine/suntan colours though. Which is just kind of odd! Now I have a brown pile on a funky backing...

And, the biggest surprise to me, which really shouldn't have been a surprise at all (if I actually thought about what I was doing) was the fact that I felted the pile while I dyed it! It started off as a lovely, lush and bouncy fur. Now it is flat, and tight and matted! :P It is wool! Of course it's going to felt if you add heat, water and friction... I think I must have left my brain in bed that morning!

So this is it. This is the fabric I now have. A mismatch of slightly tinted wool and a strange backing. It wasn't the most expensive fabric in the world, but still way too expensive to just discard. So I'm going to go ahead with the bears you can see drawn on the back of it. Thankfully they are 'old-style' bear patterns of mine, so the matted fur won't look too out of place.

Who knows, maybe this little misadventure will actually turn out to be the perfect effect once the bears are made? How's that for a bit of optimism on your weekday evening! ;)


  1. Hahahahahaha!!! I've done the very same thing...time well wasted I say! Make the bear and see what happens!
    Good luck Emma!

  2. Lol, I've never tried dying anything yet, and these sorts of stories scare me! Although I'm allergic to wool, so I coudln't have been this silly :oD