I don’t know about you all, but we had a fantastic, albeit busy, Christmas season! Miss American Dye is gaining popularity both in our local area and online, which is a lot of fun to see. I’m getting tagged in more and more photos of happy customers wearing their one of a kind tie dye creations on social media. I received two offers to sell Miss American Dye products in local stores, as well as an offer for vending at a local country festival, so I’ll be looking into these opportunities, though the majority of my business still seems to be online.
1. I am thankful for a roof over my head.
2. I am thankful for my husband.
3. I am thankful for my momma.
4. I am thankful for the tie dye community.
5. I am thankful that I get to live in this fine country.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of trial and error with tie dye.
I mean, a LOT of trial and error.
Take, for instance, these skull and crossbones designs I’ve been trying out.
They’re awesome, right? But, they don’t look much like each other. And there’s too much bleeding on the eyes, so I’ve got to adjust my dye application there. Maybe I’ll use a thickener.
When I first started delving into this world of color on fabric, there was a lot more failure than success. I’d get so discouraged when a new design didn’t turn out how I imagined it would. I’ve shed tears over my failed attempts at designs. TEARS! It may seem like a trivial thing to get worked up about, but every time I didn’t replicate a design to my tolerance standards, I felt like it was further proof that I wasn’t cut out for selling my work. I felt like a failure.
Now, here’s the thing: I have amazing friends and family. They tell me, “Jill, you’re too hard on yourself! I like it!” Awesome, encouraging words. But… their words really don’t soothe my frustrations. How can I make it in a heavily saturated market if I can’t get my stuff together?
Well, one day I had this realization: Their words don’t help because if I don’t believe in my work, it won’t matter if they do. I need to be happy with the results. I’m not out to get patted on the back, I’m out to produce quality tie dyes that customers love.
Reality started to set in… I was going to have to make a LOT of mistakes and be okay with it. I needed to stop asking for second opinions and go with my gut. If I was dissatisfied with the end result, I needed to redo something.
Now, the other side of that coin is that I need to be okay with the variations and uniqueness of tie dye. No… scratch that. I need to CELEBRATE the variations and uniqueness of tie dye. People don’t buy tie dye for it’s consistency. They can buy printed fabric if they want that sort of thing. There’s plenty of printed (read: fake) tie dye out there, but it’s not what I do. A perfectionist at heart, celebrating the variation is really difficult for me. But that’s probably a good thing. Because…My left brain and right brain are having to do all sorts of collaboration. I’m probably some sort of genius because of it. And while I can’t say I’ve figured it all out, what I HAVE figured out is this:
Tie dye is both an ART and a SCIENCE.
There’s method to my trial and error – hypothesizing and changing one variable at a time, recording my findings, being willing to make mistakes and do-overs, etc. But there’s also creativity and surprise as a piece takes on a life of it’s own, often turning out better than I imagined!
And art and science CAN CO-EXIST. It’s just not always comfortable.
My style became influenced by great finds at Value Village, the GoodWill, and other smaller thrift stores.
Thrift Stores and Upcycled Tie Dye
Naturally, as years passed and I got into tie-dye, I wanted to incorporate my love for unique finds and low prices! I would browse the racks of my local thrift stores for white (or pastel) garments that were fiber reactive. I can easily blow through 2 hours at a store searching for pieces that speak to me! You can usually find me in the white sections searching for the material labels that say 100% cotton or rayon. Or I’m holding a funky white canvas blazer with sweet shoulder pads with a blank stare. (That’s me thinking, “What design would I do on this piece?”)
Introducing “New Life” at Miss American Dye
I hope you find an upcycled “New Life” piece that fits you and your personal style, and even more, I hope you are encouraged to embrace that style!
I wear tie dye a lot (big surprise.) A frequent question I get asked around my little town when someone sees me wearing tie dye is, “How did you DO that?” Sometimes I have time to explain a bit of the process, but usually it’s a passing comment, so I answer in kind. “Sorcery,” I reply.
In Which the Author Divulges 5 Helpful Tie Dye Tips…
In reality, tie dye isn’t sorcery, wizardry, or magic. But here are 5 helpful tie dye tips I have learned along the way that I shall pass on to you, should you decide to delve into this magical world of color.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks to make your tie dyes awesome! Thanks for reading!
Being from the great Pacific Northwest (on the west side of the Cascades, no less) I’ve never had to worry about water shortages. I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and had to adjust to rationed water and trying to conserve because of the major drought conditions down there. But… It rains A LOT in these parts. Usually.
This year has been super dry. We had a very mild winter, so the snow pack that we normally rely on was almost non-existent. In our area, there’s a small mountain called Silver Star that works as an indicator for everyone planting their gardens in the spring: When the snow is gone on Silver Star, it’s time to plant. Well… we all had to wing it this year because Silver Star never got any snow.
Then, add to the lack of snow pack a huge absence of our beloved rain. Our rivers are low, our creeks and streams were dried up coming into the start of summer rather than near the end, and Pacific Northwesterners from around Washington and Oregon are realizing we need to start implementing water conservation efforts. We probably won’t run out of water like parts of California, but we need to do our part.
So what does that have to do with tie dye? A great deal. I ensure each garment is rid of all excess dye before it is passed on to you, my awesome customers. That requires water. And I used to think it required A LOT of water. But I’m learning some tricks to cut that water usage down and do my part.
3 Water Conservation Tricks for Tie Dye
Trick #1: Initial Rinse should be done in a bucket. Rather than with the hose spraying out the excess dye. I was afraid bucket rinsing would muddle the colors too much, but it really doesn’t make a difference, and I use a lot less water when I fill up half a bucket and rinse an item in it.
UPDATE: I did have some white areas on a red shirt that were a little on the pale pink side, so I’m thinking I will have to do some initial rinse with the hose before putting it in a bucket of cold water. Still experimenting!
Trick #2: Wash all rinsed garments in one laundry load together. I used to keep color families separate – oranges, reds, and pinks would stick together, blues and greens in another load… you get the idea. But I found that if I fill the washing machine with hot water first and then add the garments one by one, they don’t cross contaminate!
Trick #3: Use waste water as a weed killer. Unfortunately, the chemicals used to fix dyes are bad for plants, so I can’t use the buckets of rinse water for watering my gardens. But I can use it to get the weeds out of my driveway!
If you have other ideas how to conserve water, share them in the comments! Let’s all try to do our part!
We’re excited to introduce our in-house fashion model, Dye. We held a little Instagram contest to name our new addition and the winner(s) will be notified shortly!
We wanted to get a photo of Dye for the website, however she insisted on going au natural (we think she’s European or something…). We’ve edited the photo to keep our website family friendly.
My awesome husband is setting up this website for me, but it’s still under construction, so we appreciate your patience. Can I brag on the husband for just a second? Not only does he work in construction all day, but then he also comes home and works in website “construction” for his wife! I’m kind of in love.
But… back to the point of this post!
We are super excited to get Miss American Dye up and running so you can see what’s new and do some shopping and even see some tutorials on how to make your own tie-dyes. Husband will be working to make this website look and run awesome, and I’ll be working to make some tie-dyes that will get YOU looking awesome!
For now, I’ll be in the backyard doing my thing. – Jill