Thursday, October 29, 2009

discharging fabric

I've been doing a little playing with discharging fabric, which is just a fancy way of saying I threw some of my fabric into bleach water. I would love to try to dye fabrics someday, but for now, this is a good experiment to tide me over. It's pretty fun.

After discharging on the left, originals on the right

From what I've found, the best candidates are high quality fabric. The cheap stuff seems to just get ruined. I chose some fabric that I had scraps of that the color was a bit challenging to work with. A trip through the bleach water yielded good results. At least on these.
left-discharged, right-original
This yellow/gold piece was something that I found in a scrap bin at a quilt shop I visited. It was one of those deals where you fit all the scraps you can in a bag and you pay a flat fee. It has a weird brown thing going on, but I thought I might be able to use it for something. I like it a lot better after a bleach bath. The rest of the piece will be in my next batch.

This one I just bleached the whole piece. It only softened the pink parts. The red is pretty much the same.

Some fabrics I tried came out unchanged.
One last thing I learned...don't leave it in for too long. I threw in a small piece, got distracted, went back to my fabric the next day. No color left whatsoever. Oops.

Have you ever tried discharging fabric?

edited to add: There has been some great discussion on this in the comments. Linda brought up a good point about the bleaching process needing to be stopped. Needled Mom helped me out by telling me that she soaks the bleached fabrics in a mixture of vinegar and water to stop the bleaching process. (I'm using a mix of half water & half vinegar.) As far as how much bleach to water ratio, I would guess that i used about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach in about 1/2 gallon of water. Any other tips would be appreciated as I'm just a rookie at this. :)

48 comments:

beth said...

sounds to me like you're spreading your quilting wings...flying....learning all kinds of new incredible stuff! keep it comin'!!!
I've dreamed of dyeing fabric..too chicken!

the perpetual optimist said...

I just throw it in the washer on the white setting (hot water wash and rinse), set an extra rinse cycle, add bleach to the bleach cup and let it go! I have had some good results with this. If I want to change it up a bit more, I throw it back in and do it all over again!

Renee said...

I haven't, but I will now! :)

Barbara said...

Greetings from PiecefulDays.SquareSpace.com blog! i took a class once with Colleen Wise who does a discharge thing where she puts leaves on fabric and sprays the bleach onto it then stops the process with a chemical - I've heard of bleaching with stamps, too. Your post has given me some ideas - I think i'll try to 'rescue' some really awful fabric to see if I like it better afterwards. thanks!

Jackie said...

Never tried it and I think that I would be nervous about doing it. Especially if it is a fabric that I paid good money for. It would definitely have to be a cheaper piece to start.

Suzanne said...

I've never heard of it actually. A little scary but it would be a great thing to try on fabric I know I'll never use the way it is.

CJ said...

I had never heard of it either. Seems I spend time making sure bleach doesn't get on ANYTHING but the whites in my laundry!

I do love what it did to that Henna by Sandi Henderson though. I am too cheap to attempt something like this and ruin a perfectly good piece of fabric. :S

Jen of ReannaLily Designs said...

I've only done the discharging with the bleach pens, but doing whole pieces would make for some excellent grading. Nice pics.

Purple Paisley Patch said...

I'm keen to try this. What ratio of bleach to water do you use?
Thanks for the inspiration.
Kelly :-)

Ginny Worden said...

What fun. The only time I tired changing the look of fabric, was after the quilt was made. I had, against my better judgement, listened to someone elses opinion on fabric I should put into my quilt. Well, I got the quilt finished, and quilted hoping that would help. But for some reason it never did. I loved everything about the quilt except that "popping fushia".Finally I bought some dye remover, some Rit Tan dye, and dove in. Now it is a lovely, faded antique looking quilt, and I love it. Really, it had no other option to look better. Sometimes we just have to jump in, and hope for the best. Have fun, experimenting has some great results.

Valerie said...

No, I have never done anything like that. You have basically taught me all I know. I sure have a lot of catching up to do though. I have been enjoying my little 96 year old Quilting Granny. I promise though I will catch up. Thank you for all you do.

Needled Mom said...

Discharging is really fun. Have you tried blacks yet? Very interesting. You can also use stamps and the Clor*ox pens for some fun discharging techniques.

Quilts on Bastings said...

No, I haven't tried could would love to.

leannich said...

I've never done any dyeing or discharging, but it looks like a lot of fun! Judi over at Approachable Art posted about it recently, which whetted my appetite. One day, when my life feels less chaotic, I'll give it a go...

Mama Pea Quilts said...

Have heard of it but never tried it. But I'd say you couldn't lose with a piece you've just never been able to fit in anywhere.

I love what it did to that fabric that you said had the funny brown going on in it. I'd use the discharged piece anytime!

KarrieLyne said...

Oh wow, I'm so new to quilting that I had never even heard of this before but it definitely sounds interesting. Like others have posted I would be a bit leary that it may ruin my yummy fabric. I'm doing a quilt now where when it's done I have to tea stain it and I'm a bit nervous on that too. All that work to put it together I just hope it comes out nice! Thaanks for all your inspiration! :)

Marty said...

No I never have. But I did take a fabric painting class at the quilt festival in Houston a few years back. It was a lot of fun.

Blue Is Bleu said...

I've never tried discharging cos I'm one of those people who tend to forget time and I'd end up with a disaster hehe

Leslie said...

this is new to me...i have never heard of doing this. sounds a little scary? does it weaken the fabric at all?

Annie of Blue Gables said...

I don't know if anyone else caught this, but you said "Tide" me over. . .
I thought that was sort of punny.

Emily said...

Never discharged, but have hand dyed...Didn't really like how it turned out. I used plain white cotton and it looked splotchy and weird to me. Also the color was muted compared to the usual vibrant colors I like. But...it was fun to experiment even if I don't love it.

the cookie cutter said...

Never tried this, but what an amazing idea, especially for all those pieces that aren't quite right! xx

Linda said...

I have not tried it, but I saw somewhere that there was some chemical that you need to use to stop the bleach from eating the fabric away over time. Not sure what it was, though. Could be interesting, though. I have been thinking about trying to dye some yarn. :)

The Calico Cat said...

No, but bleach got on one of my towels, now it has a hole - so I wonder about how it will stand up over time. (Not that I am making heirlooms & not that we have to worry abou the only quilt that I am going to make...)

Maria Stahl said...

Never on PURPOSE... :)

Rory said...

I was just thinking about this http://www.flickr.com/photos/calamitykim/sets/72157603632983277/

so funny you did a post on bleach today!

Rebekah said...

what an interesting technique! I can't wait to see how you use it in a quilt

heather said...

no i haven't but i wonder if it would help with a few of the ones i don't really like.

Zarina said...

I have discharged some fabric for a full size quilt for my sister. Unfortunately its not finish so have not able to blog about it since she reads my blog.

but i have dyed some fabric which you can check here http://www.concerningzarina.com/?blogentryid=4498453

I Love Baby Quilts! said...

I read about it all the time at astitchindye's blog. I have a pdf of her technique that i got online. It details how to use the clamps, lucite circles and baths.

Buzz's Food Lady said...

Hi!

I admin (with Malka or stitch in dye) a flickr group for pictures of discharged and overdyed fabrics:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/discharge_overdye/

you should check it out.

I really like the way discharging alters multi-colored fabrics, especially small prints that have a mix of cool and warm colors.

Also, check out this post from Elizabeth of "Oh, Fransson!" for some fascinating results:
http://www.ohfransson.com/oh_fransson/2009/04/fabric-alteration-expiriment-1-bleach-discharge.html#comments

Best,
Rossie

Leslie said...

Thanks for the idea. I have a really ugly piece of gold fabric that is going swimming with bleach as soon as I get home from work.

ale balanzario said...

Thanks for all the information in this post, I have been thinking on give this a try, as more and more I see some quilters are making wonderful quilts with bleached fabrics, and they get great quilts.
I think rinse and vinagre and water will stop it.
:)

Amy - Park City Girl said...

I would come back too late more often than not! Looks like you are up to more fun :)

Cybele said...

I made a beach theme quilt and wanted to lighten a great shell fabric that was way too dark. I tried bleach (at Martha Stewart's recommendation) but was much happier with the results from Rit Color Remover. You can find it in the rack with all the Rit tie dye colors and it really lightens without yellowing. Here is the link of my beach quilt http://perrymoffitt.com/2008/12/22/wedding-quilt-a-preview/

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

Unfortunately you must have heard vinegar will stop and neutralize thd bleach reaction. IT WILL NOT.
You need Anti Chlor that can be purchased very reasonably from ProChem or Dharma.
If you don't stop the bleach action it will continue to work and even if you wash it numerous times the deterioration will continue.
I know there are many people who think that using vinegar and water works and are even writing books and teaching classes and perpetuating this myth. Please help prevent the spread of the myth.

Thimbleanna said...

This looks fun CrazyMom! I especially enjoyed your added comment -- I would have never thought you would have to "stop" the process!

Patricia said...

Be careful with using vinegar to stop discharging with bleach. It can create toxic fumes. If you go to the "fish store" or any store that sells fish (like Petmart) you can buy a solution that removes bleach from water. It is much cheaper and does the same thing (stop the bleaching process) without the fumes. I dye my fabric and have discharged and it works great. You can also discharge with stamps or stencils by using dishwasher gel or soft scrub. Because it is thick it stays on the stamps better and you can control it better if you use with stencils. It is great fun and really interesting to see what you get. BTW if your fabric has poly in it, it will not discharge.

xoxo Have fun!!!!

bekhy said...

I tried bleaching some black fabric and was disappointed and lack of effect, it was just a duller faded black. I used a 1:4 bleach to water solution, left it about 10 minutes.

jacquie said...

i sure learned lots from the comments. i'd love try this....someday!

Anonymous said...

Alma at blackbird designs just used the RIT colour remover and has shots of her before adn after

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

I need some practice with tea dying. It really does change how things look.

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

Please do not use bleach and vinegar together. The combination creates toxic fumes which can damage your lungs.
Here is a reference you can check:

http://chemistry.about.com/b/2009/02/02/why-people-mix-bleach-and-vinegar.htm

Notjustnat said...

Thanks for the combo bleaching-I did color removed and over dyed and I love that. I will try just bleaching next time - Hugs Natima

Anonymous said...

Here is a link from a well respected person in the dyeing community. She has a PhD in this field and not only discusses the dangers of using vinegar with bleach, but tells you how to neutralize bleach correctly.
http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/neutralizingdischarge.shtml

Barbara

Patty Cramer said...

I too suggest great care when using bleach. I took a class and we had to use respirators to protect us from the fumes. THere was a guy in the class who had damaged his lungs with bleach and now uses another product. You wouldn't want to be sorry after the fact.
It's great fun, though - but toxic!

Whosies said...

what a great experiment. luckily it is on stuff you are picking and not just a random spatter on the good stuff---usually that is what happens. :)

Miss Sews-it-all said...

I've done some discharging in my time, it is fun to play and see the different results!

DON'T immerse bleched fabric in vinegar directly (it can create a toxic gas), but when your fabric has been completely rinsed, you can use a rinse with about one tablespoon vinegar to one gallon water.

I've also used Thiox, and really liked the results from this process much better than bleaching.

http://www.prochemical.com/directions/Thiox.htm

Have fun!