I followed Teeny’s sleeves diagram seen on the right. This method is great especially when you’re making the sleeves out of material like cotton, because then it’s not too see through.
I originally cut mine on the length grain but messed up and ended up cutting it on the cross grain, but in the end it didn’t make too much of a difference anyways. (For more information about fabric grain, check out this link!)
For the gradient look, I used RIT dye (powder) in Petal Pink. (I’ll explain the dying process in a bit.) I realize that the sleeves are actually cream with the gradient dye, but I used white cotton. I dyed it before I put the sleeves together.
There’s two reasons I do that, one is I cut more than I needed to to begin with. The reason for that is just in case you mess up or something, you can always chop it off. If you cut it exactly and you mess it up, you’re stuck with it. The other reason is that I had originally sewn up another pair of sleeves (which I ended up disliking, the fabric was just wrong) and I’m not sure what kind of fabric is was but it wrinkled so easily and barely accepted the dye. That and I messed up when I cut it and didn’t like the way I had ended up making it.
How long should you cut the fabric? Remember when you fold the fabric on the horizontal fold like the image, and place it on your arm (like you’re wearing it) that’s how long the fabric will be measured. How long you make it is up to you. For mine, if I stretched my arm out horizontally, it hit about mid thigh, and if I placed my arm on my waist right under the bust, it was just above the knee.
Gradient Dying Tutorial
- This is a basic gradient dying tutorial, so you can use this for other colors if you want. This is just the method I used. This is the first time I did a gradient dye on fabric and it came out nice. If you have any suggestions to make this tutorial better, let me know!
Pre-treat your fabric! I personally didn’t, because I just cut white fabric, but you should get your fabric as white as you can (you can use dye remover like the box suggests if you really want).
- I folded the fabric like in the design. I dyed my fabric outside on the deck because I hear all these staining stories xD
- I boiled a pot of water and poured it in the bucket I was going to dye my fabric in. If you don’t want to ruin the bucket, just place a large plastic bag on the inside like I did. Just make sure the plastic bag doesn’t have holes in it or it’ll defeat the purpose of using it! The water doesn’t have to to be bubbling boiling, just so it’s hot!
- You’re going to use the fabric dye in rounds, not all at once. Take a water bottle you don’t want and fill it up with the hot water. Use with caution! I shouldn’t have to say this, but the bottle will be hot. Pour a little bit of the dye powder in the water bottle. I want to say less than 1/3rd of the packet.
- The pour a little bit of the dyed water into the bucket. You don’t want it too red, but not so little that it just looks barely tinted. Then I used a dowel rod that I had lying around the house to mix the water.
- Before you dye the fabric, completely dip the fabric in warm/hot water before you dye it. You don’t have to dye it in boiling water and I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you want to burn your fingers. Don’t worry, the dye won’t run up the fabric from doing this.
- Remember you’re starting from lightest to dark. The gradient begins after where the sleeves would be, so I’d say start about 1 ft or so after the fold. Dip the fabric into the water. You don’t want a line to appear so dip it in and out around where you’re starting. You don’t need to take the whole fabric out of the water each time, just so there isn’t a line.
- Continue doing this until you get to the end. Don’t forget to add more dye each time. If you run out from the water bottle, simply add more hot water and dye, shake and pour some into the bucket. Then dip the fabric. I used the dowel rod to mix the fabric into the water.
- For each layers, I switched between fabrics. I would dye one layer on the sleeve, then dye the other fabric. I wouldn’t recommend dyeing both at the same time. I discovered that since I folded it and dyed it, the inside of the fabric was slightly lighter than the outside (which isn’t too big of a deal since you can’t see the inside anyways).
- Leave the fabric out to completely dry.
Post-treat your fabric! All I did was rinse out my fabric in a bucket of cold/warm water. I basically dunked it in and out of the water, and swirled it around a few times, then poured out the water and repeated the process. Rinse it until the water is close to clear. I wouldn’t recommend throwing it in the washing machine if you haven’t sewn it yet because it will most likely fray like crazy! Also, it’s not a lot of fabric to begin with so it’d just end up being a waste of water.
- Wear gloves! I didn’t, because I didn’t really put my hands in the water, but you never know!
- Wear clothes you don’t care about. Even if you’re very careful, you never know if the water could splash up and hit you. Especially if you’re using darker colors.
- Post-treat your fabric!
- Keep in mind that the color will become slightly lighter after you post treat your fabric. With that in mind, when you dye, dye it a tint darker. You don’t need to over exaggerate it. If you want it to be a slight pink, you don’t need to dye it pink-reddish. It won’t fade THAT much.
- DO NOT directly pour the dye into the bucket of water, pour it in the water bottle first. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Not only will you be more accurate when it comes to the amount of color you pour, sometimes if the powder doesn’t dissolve in the water, you’ll find random spots of color where the powder ends up clinging to the fabric.
- I did NOT use a lot of water dyeing this. I probably used less than 2 pots of water, and ended up using less than 1/2 the packet.
- Dyeing is pretty much based by sight, so I can’t give you an exact measurement of powder to use or how long to leave it in.
Check out the next post for how to sew it together!