Friday, May 13, 2011

ANOTHER DISHRAG-MAKING PROJECT

As GrandmaS likes to remind you: "Every penny saved is a penny that's (at least, theoretically) not spent feeding the consumerist monster!" And having seen that the knitted dishrag post was one of my readers' favorites, I decided to find another dishcloth project that's easy to do and equally planet-friendly. So, here's a second dishrag-making project that can save you a pound of pennies and give you a ton of satisfaction.

Now, for those of you who read the first dishrag project, I want you to know that I personally did make and absolutely love my knitted dishrags. But, somewhat shamed-faced, I have to confess that I never produced the number that I recommended - that was 2 per day, dishrags and counter-cleaning rags, for a total of 14 for an entire week. I guess I got a little lazy after I 'd made a few.

But, later, I remembered that, for many years, I’d made my own facecloths from squares of recycled terrycloth with the addition of a crocheted edge. So, I thought: "Why not whip up some of those as dishrags?" And, since dishcloths are often - intentionally or otherwise - on display in the kitchen, I wanted to make them not only economical and useful but also attractive. These terry cloths are cheap and easy to make (see instructions below), and you'll be pleased that your kitchen has a safe, natural way of dish washing and surface cleaning.


There's more! These terry dishrags can be dyed beautiful pastel colors. Now, of course, GrandmaS would want you to go the natural route and not get involved with chemical dyes and their toxicity issues. That's right, natural dyes are easy to make and work with. (If you're still doubting, a quick Internet search can confirm this claim.) 

I think you'll like this simple project. And, if you get really inspired, you can do even more by making yourself some matching kitchen towels. A dyed terry dishrag and a matching  kitchen towel is a gift item that will be greatly appreciated by family and friends.

Instructions for making natural-dyed terry dishrags

Step 1 – Cut terry squares
Cut up white or almost white used (recycled) terry hand or bath towels or undyed shop rags into 8-inch squares. That size is small enough to fit inside a glass but big enough to clean counters.

Step 2 – Choose colors and dyes
For my dishrags, I used the following pastel colors and vegetable dye materials.

Sky Blue - fresh blueberries
Ice Cream Pink - fresh beets
Tree Bark Tan - strong brewed coffee
Light Saffron Yellow - ground turmeric
Light Sage Green - spinach leaves

Step 3: Make color fixatives
These natural fixatives will make the dye soak into the fabric more easily.

•Salt fixative for berry and spice dyes -- 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water. Stir to dissolve.
•Vinegar fixatives for plant dyes -- 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar. Mix.

Add your squares to the fixative, heat and simmer for an hour. (You'll probably be able to fix and dye two or three cloths at a time.) Cool and squeeze out the fabric. Rinse in cool water until water is clear.

Step 4 - Dye bath
To make the veggie dye bath, cut the plants into small pieces and place in a stainless steel pot. Use two parts of water to one part plant material. For spices and coffee, about a half cup should be enough to make a dye. For stronger colors, increase the proportion of dye material. Don't worry about any possible stains in your pans - everything is natural, so nothing will harm your pans or be toxic for your family.  Bring the solution to a boil and simmer for about an hour; strain the liquid, leaving only the colored liquid.

Step 5 - Dyeing
Using the same pan (or pouring the dye-water into a larger stainless steel pan, if necessary), simmer the solution and fabric together for one hour. Leave the squares in the dye water for 4 to 8 hours. Be sure to swish the fabric around every hour or so to make sure all parts are unfolded and absorbing the same degree of color. You can check for color intensity after a few hours. Just keep the squares longer for a darker tone - even over night, if you like. By the way, the color of the fabric is always somewhat lighter when it dries.

Step 6 - Rinse
Remove the squares from dye bath and squeeze out the coloring. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear. Dry.

Step 7 - Hemming and making a crocheted border
Turn the edges in about a third of an inch - just one time, not doubled - and sew a running stitch around the cloth using a matching thread color. Then give them a sturdier hem with a crocheted shell border using a cotton yarn. Be sure your crocheted hem covers up what the usually unattractive stitched heming. Choose a yarn color that coordinates or contrasts with your fabric color.

Notes: Always wash your dyed kitchen rags and towels in cool water either alone or with other light-colored linens (and not with regular clothing). Air-dry your washed dishrags on a clothesline, when possible, to sanitize them. No chlorine bleach, please. Try to keep them out of direct sunlight. If using a clothes dryer, set it to air-dry setting or the lowest heat. The natural dyed terry will fade in time, but the crocheted edge will continue to make your cloths attractive.

Related posts:
IN PRAISE OF THE SIMPLE DISHRAG
BE SURE TO USE ALTERNATIVES TO CHLORINE BLEACH
LIVING IT UP WITH LESS: DECORATION IN A SIMPLE HOME
RECYCLE PLASTIC BAGS INTO USEFUL ITEMS
MAKE BEAUTIFUL BEADS FROM RECYCLED PAPER
GIVE AN OLD T-SHIRT A NEW LIFE AS A SHOPPING BAG





 

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