here and here.) It's actually not all that difficult, but as with any unfamiliar activity that involves both some know-how and preparation, there's always a good bit of the approach-avoidance syndrome involved, at least there is with me. But I finally got around to it, and here is the first result.
In the sweltering Texas summer, I do wear tank tops around the house, and Dharma's sturdy, non-clingy cotton jersey is perfect. For the pattern I traced a store-bought tank: two pieces – what could be simpler? Dharma sells all sorts of clothing blanks, but I'd rather make my own because it's easier to work on a flat piece of fabric than a garment in the round. I'm planning on making several of these to try out various techniques and processes, and I like that I'm making something I can actually use rather than just experimenting on a piece of fabric.
In her book, Johnston points you to single-chemical colors: basic yellows, reds and blues, plus a few others, as your color arsenal, rather than the tempting array of available pre-mixed colors. And while dyes are a bit more complicated than fabric paints, these bond chemically to the fabric, without altering its hand. They are mixed up with warm tap water, are relatively non-toxic, and can be used on all natural fibers. In the Color By Design method, the fabric is soda-soaked prior to dye application and is "cured" by letting it sit for several hours while the chemical bond is formed. All this is probably much more than you want to know, but if you are intrigued or just curious, there is info galore on the Dharma website, about all types of dyes, fabric paints, tools for creating surface design, as well as fabrics, yarn and clothing. As you can tell, I love Dharma with its amusing hippie vibe.
On this project my first step was to brush a color wash on the wet fabric, with the intention of having mauve at the top segue into violet at the bottom. What actually happened was that I more or less blended them together over the entire piece. (Before I began I marked my two pattern pieces on the fabric wtih stitching which would be easy to see and durable during the entire process.) Because my dye powders are older than recommended, I didn't know how much they might wash out. This photo shows them still wet.
After the stenciling had dried, I sponged on dye mixed with more print paste to give lighter shades. As you can see, it looks very dark when freshly applied and very wet.
Finally, here is the fabric washed and ready to sew. It has lightened considerably and I've lost a lot of the blue, things I need to take into consideration when I start my next top. Which I'm hoping to do in a just a couple of days!