Saturday morning I had an e-mail from Rossie about her new Flickr group, take charge DISCHARGE! give it a try OVERDYE! (You may know Rossie as the founder/moderator of the awesome Fresh Modern Quilts pool.) The new group was inspired by Malka Dubrawsky's article for Quilting Arts (Malka has a book coming out soon too!) and is for showing off photos of commercial fabrics that have been altered with bleach or dye. I had other plans for Saturday, but was intrigued and ended up spending the entire day altering fabric!
My first experiment was with bleach discharge. I mixed two quarts water and two cups bleach in a plastic container, added some random pieces of Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party fabric, and let them soak for about seven minutes. I stirred a few times during the soaking process to make sure the fabric bleached evenly. When the fabric was done soaking, I ran it through a wash cycle to get all the bleach out.
The results were pretty cool! That red fabric on the top came out a bit mottled, but all of the others were nice and even.
I noticed that (with the Garden Party fabric anyway) reds, oranges, pinks and greens discharged quite a bit, but blues and cool dark browns didn't change very much at all.
Here are some samples with a lot of orange and green. You can see how much they changed!
Just for fun, I made up some square-in-square blocks using some of the discharged fabrics with the original versions of the same print.
Here's a close-up of one that I really liked.
I thought the blocks were most successful with fairly plain allover prints like these. I would love to do a whole quilt this way someday!
So, my takeaway from this experiment was that bleach discharge is really fun and really easy. If you're looking to experiment with some of your print fabrics, I definitely recommend giving it a try!