Ombre T-Shirts

Can we just pretend that I haven’t been ignoring my blog for the last three months? That I didn’t sneak away for the summer and then turn my back on writing when I returned home? I’m sorry. I wish I wasn’t so easily sidetracked. Discipline is not my middle name. Whether it is exercise, writing or even sewing, if I don’t stick with the routine, I lose my momentum and then off I slide down the muddy slope.

So how do I make amends for being such a slacker and does anyone care? I’ll start by posting some of the projects I completed before leaving Seattle.

There are two very lucky boys in our family who have the good fortune of sharing a birthday, born within several hours of each other though we lived several states apart. Not only that, but both boys were born on their due date, and my son was born on his sister’s birthday. Crazy. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it, but these cousins are really tight. They like the same sort of play and seem to share part of a brain. In the past we have made freezer-paper stenciled shirts for their birthday, so I thought it would be nice to try something different.


We tried a little ombre dyeing in a friend’s back yard, setting up several different containers with cold water and mixing in acid dyes. Dipping strips of fabric in the mason jars of dye concentrate, we gauged the relative shade of each color and proceeded to add them in small amounts to the containers. The middle shirt was dyed yellow, then placed in an orange bath with half the shirt hanging over the edge and half of the shirt floating in the dye. Once the color had started to creep above the water line, I reversed the shirt and dangled it into a red bath. I used a similar process for the green/turquoise shirt and the reverse flame shirt, though I skipped the overdyeing, prefering to use two colors instead of three.

We did loads and loads of dyeing that day: underwear, white crew socks, more t-shirts splatter painted, cloth diapers, some nunofelted silk fabric and a pile of woven cotton fabric. We let the kids paint, dip and play with the dyes (with supervision of course). Some combinations were more pleasing than others, but it was enormously fun to have the freedom to try anything and everything. Thank you Rima for opening up your home to us.


8 Responses to “Ombre T-Shirts”

  1. 1 joniphippin Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 2:26 am

    Lovely to have you back. I think your mudslide sounds similar to mine!
    Often life gets in the way, but that makes it feel so great once you are back on track.
    Missed you and seeing your lovely work.

  2. 2 Elizabeth Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Welcome back!

  3. 3 Martine Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    So happy to see you’r back.

  4. 4 Marian Friday, November 14, 2008 at 2:18 am

    beautiful colors! love red and the combination with the other 2 colors is just beautiful. How do you keep the colors from not running or dyeing other stuff when you wash them?

    Great work!

  5. 5 kneek Friday, November 14, 2008 at 11:28 am

    We put the shirts in a final vinegar rinse after dyeing and before their first wash. This fixes the dye in the fabric. We haven’t had any problems with bleeding or leeching color. Thanks for the compliments!

  6. 6 sara Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 11:46 am

    these t-shirts are beautiful!!! can’t wait to see more “stuff”.

  7. 7 Josiane Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    It’s great to see you back!
    It sounds like that dyeing party was a really good time!

  8. 8 Josiane Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    It’s great to see you back! I totally understand how life can slip away sometimes (as evidenced by the fact I still haven’t written the emails I was fully intending on sending you last summer…)

    It sounds like that dyeing party was a great deal of fun!

    (Sorry if my comment is appearing twice, there was a bug when I first submitted it and I wasn’t sure if it would have gone through or not)

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