Let's Get Started!
Pre-wash your fabric with Professional Textile Detergent to make sure there are no fabric softeners, dirt, oils or other treatments on it that would prohibit dyeing.
We decided to fold and tie our fabric to get a more directional pattern in our results. You can do whatever you want but here is what we did:
First we need to square up our fabric. Take one corner and bring the fabric down to make a triangle with a few inches of fabric off of one side. Cut off the extra fabric and you should have a square that is roughly 60" x 60".
Fold it in half one way and then the other to a 30x30 square. Open it up again to find the center down the fabric, mark it with the vanishing marker if you want. You will use this as a reference. We are going to pleat the fabric sort of like a fan and the center point of the fold is the pivot point of the fan. If it helps use the vanishing marker and draw half circle guide lines you can follow as you pleat the fabric.
You can be very exact in your pleats if you want but we just did a rough pleat/gather. Use the rubber band to tie things loosely in place, no need to strangle the fabric as we want the dye to penetrate the folds.
Pro-Tip: Flat sinew #FSW is a great way to tie up a piece loosely instead of rubber bands
Soak your tied up fabric in a soda ash solution of 2 cups of soda ash to 1 gallon of water, this is more concentrated then normal because the melting ice/snow will water it down. Let that soak for about 10 min. then squeeze out the excess solution and place the fabric in the tub on top of the racks.
Cover the fabric in ice, you don’t want to see any fabric. If you are using snow pile it on a good inch deep. We used a second rack to help keep the ice from falling off the fabric.
Put on your dust mask and grab your first color. We started with a red but use whatever takes your fancy. With a spoon sprinkle the dye powder over the top of the ice, where it will then melt into the fabric.
Next we grabbed a green or yellow and sprinkle that in a few sections.Keep switching colors and sprinkling until there is dye on all the ice.
Next cover everything up with the plastic. Let it sit until the ice has melted plus 24 hours so the dye can fix. It helps to put it near a heater vent or other warm spot.
When it is ready, rinse the fabric under cold running water while you remove the rubber bands or sinew, and continue to rinse until the water runs clear. Then pop it in the washing machine with hot water and ¼ cup of the Professional Textile Detergent. Dry in the dryer or air dry.
Now we have our fabric ready to go, we are ready to cut.
Once again, fold the fabric in half horizontally and then in half lengthwise but don’t open it up again. You should have a 30"x30" square.
Using the vanishing marker we are going to mark the cut lines. Using a tape measure, mark points about 29" from the folded corner in an arch. Connect the dots to make a quarter circle. Cut along this line.
Measure and cut another 1/4 circle with a 5" radius, this will make the center hole that goes around the tree (of course if you are working with some kind of giant hulk monster of a tree, this second hole might need a larger radius). You should now have a donut.
Decide which part of the skirt you want to have toward the back of the tree and slice open the donut on that side.
Now we are ready to glue on the rayon ribbon. We bag dyed the ribbon with some of the leftover red dyes because we wanted a red ribbon, but you can also include it in the ice dyeing, it is up to you. Lay out the skirt on the floor or a table where you can work comfortably and put some newsprint under the edges in case the glue goes through.
Using the 'Ok to Wash' adhesive lay down a bead of glue about ¼" from the edge of the fabric. Lay the ribbon over the glue and lightly press it down with your fingers, this can get a little sticky.
We started by glueing the center circle, then the splice and finally the skirt edge. Let it dry overnight and then the skirt is ready to use. Wait 7-10 days to wash the skirt to make sure the glue is totally set, plenty of time by the time the tree is ready to come down.
Now it is time to put up the tree and deck the halls!
Written and Photographed by Elizabeth Holdmann for Dharma Trading Co.
Dharma Fiber Reactive Dyes in reds, greens or whatever says it best for you: we used #10-Fire Red, #148- Pomegranate, #67-Marigold, #30A- New Emerald Green, #31-Dark Green and #47 Chartreuse
Ice or snow
A tub large enough to hold the fabric
Cooling rack(s) or similar to elevate the fabric in tub (optional but helpful)
Trash bag or plastic sheet