Fiber Fridays #2: Dying Fibers

Hello everyone!
This post is coming to you a bit late due to wifi issues so I apologize for the delay! This week I want to discuss with you guys what it is like to dye your own fibers for your work. Spoiler alert! It’s hard, at least in my own experience. Getting the perfect shade that you are imagining in your head can prove to be difficult.

My original intention for this fabric was to weave a really long sheet on a loom and use it to sew little purses and bags. I imagined almost “forest-ish” colors, such as deep orange, dark green, and a pale yellow for my weft. I wanted to weave in brown and beige colors and have a soft look to it.

I had to start out by measuring yards upon yards of threads for my warp , and spending hours in the weaving studio spinning them into the perfect measurements. I then took them to the dye studio, where things quickly felt more complicated. I had to mix the appropriate amounts of each dye with other chemicals in order to get the colors I wanted, and I had never dyed anything besides my hair.

When I finally got the bundles of threads into their respective dye buckets, I felt confident. The colors looked dark and moody, exactly what I wanted! I let these colors sit longer than the yellow. The yellow seemed like if I just pulled it out quickly it would be the lighter yellow I wanted.

The above photo was the result. I was embarrassed. These look straight out of a lemon lime ad. They looked citrus themed, far from what I ever wanted to work with. Far from anything I even care about. I was stuck on how I could make this work. I turned to a color palette generator, and put in the colors I had created in the fibers. The computer gave me a variety of different colors that could work as the weft. I decided to turn the cloth into an experimental project. At random intervals, the fabric would have a new colored weft.

Shifting gears with this project is what I believe really saved it. I ended up loving the end cloth and was able to use ti for the small bags that I wanted to use it for, as well as reupholstering a vanity chair. Weaving is always a rough journey for me, and dying my own fibers made it even harder. I would do it again though, and recommend it to others who would like to try!
See you guys later this week for actual Fiber Fridays!
Below is some of the final products:


Marissa Woods is a fourth-year student at Penny W Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. Second-year writing for Arts, Ink, Marissa is focusing on documenting her fiber arts journey, through Fiber Fridays. Marissa is pursuing a minor in Geology and would like to pursue grad school to eventually become an art professor.

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