Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dyeing Muslin

I originally posted this to my old Cave Creek blog, but I'm posting it here again because I'm dyeing muslin today and I can't think of anything else to write about at the moment.

To dye muslin, I use a stainless steel pot into which goes some hot water, lots of instant coffee grounds, a splash of vanilla, a dash of cinnamon (OK, maybe more than a dash) and possibly some sage or nutmeg.  I then place a couple of yards of unbleached muslin (OK, maybe a yard and a half but I seldom measure it) and squish it all down with a wooden spoon.  I do cook it on low to just below boiling and then set it aside.  I don't know if that actually helps to set the color but it sure seems like it and it smells good too.

I set the pot aside and let the whole thing cool down, stirring and poking to be sure all the fabric gets a turn at soaking for a couple of hours. Then comes fun part - removing the muslin and wringing it out in the sink.  I do not rinse it - it's going to get lighter anyway when it dries.  On warm sunny days I hang it outside to dry in the sun, but in the dead of winter I toss it in the dryer.  It will leave a bit of a coffee stain in the dryer but that wipes out easily.  The muslin wrinkles and creases during this process, which adds to the primitive look.

I used to construct my dolls first and then stain, but I find dyeing the muslin first is easier and eliminates any missed seams or spots.  I still add a finishing touch up when necessary and can adjust the color by applying more stain to the completed doll if it needs a touch up.  Now I can't wait to see what becomes of this batch of muslin....