My family is big on art. We all like to paint and sculpt stuff because, well, it’s fun! There are a million little creative projects we do everyday, but we also try to do at least one all consuming full family project. Last month, it was to make our first Osnaburg Ice Dyed baby wrap. We had so much fun that my kids have requested that September’s project be making and dyeing doll wraps for everyone.
Before we made this, I had about 3 wraps each in sizes 4, 5, and 6. I only had 2 7s, though, and really wanted another one (they leave enough fabric to wrap a toddler and turn what’s left into something pretty and shirt-like). For those who don’t know, a size 7 is about 5.2 meters of fabric. No, you’re not reading that wrong. It’s literally huge. But think about it; you’re attaching another person to your body with enough layers of support to keep them safely and comfortable on you. Yes, I can do that with a much smaller piece of fabric (and do quite often), but sometimes it’s fun to have lots of designs happening with doing it.
Any who, giant piece of Osnaburg fabric. Osnaburg fabric, for those who don’t know, is a strong woven cotton fabric. It’s used in things like home furnishings because it’s pretty light but very strong. You know that fancy table cloth you have that felt like cardboard when you first got it but feels super soft now that you’ve had it a year and washed it 20 times? It’s a woven cotton fabric. We took 8 yards of that and washed and dried it about 3 times just to get any crap off it and any shrinking it might do done. Then we ironed the whole thing. After it was all flat, I measured and cut the ends at an angle, making tails.
See? Tail cut at an angle.
That picture also shows the “glue resist” we did. Basically, you use glue to create a design on the fabric. Where the glue is, the dye won’t be. Got it? We did hearts on the tails, a tree in the middle, and crescent moons halfway between each of those. We also did a little swirly pattern across the bottom. Oh, but before we did all that, I cut and ripped across the full length of the fabric to make it the width (the short bit top to bottom) that I wanted it. Most wraps are 28″ to 32″ wide. I then hemmed the whole thing with a super strong cotton thread. I used cotton instead of polyester because I wanted it to dye with the rest of the fabric.
Still following? Good. Next came the fun part. After all that glue had dried, we did a quick soak in soda ash. Before that could dry at all, we scrunched the fabric up and set it on a grate inside a plastic container. We were going to do an ice dye, so we dumped a ton of ice on the wrap and then sprinkled dry dye on top. The kids got to pick the colors and, after I put down the first layer, they even got to sprinkle it around.
There’s a wrap under there!
All that was left was to leave it to soak through for 24 hours. We picked up the whole container and moved it to our back deck. Mind you, this is July. We knew that the ice would probably melt off really quickly, especially since we put some plastic wrap over the top to keep the whole project secure. We kept some extra ice to dump on top later. It was really fun to watch the ice start to melt and the color start the leach through. It starts to make a giant, rainbow-y puddle at the bottom of the bucket. You can actually let the wrap sit in that while it’s dying, but ours was kinda suspended.
This is what it looked like after 12 hours.
Now, here is where things went a little off from our original plans. When we dumped another layer of ice on top (just to help rinse through), we decided to leave the plastic wrap off. There’s another school of dying who do something called a “rain dye.” It’s very similar in set up to what you do with an ice dye, but you remove ice from the equation and dump the powder dye directly on your stuff and leave it outside through a rain storm that you think will last at least an hour. About 3 hours after we’d added more ice (and it had mostly melted in the mid day heat of a Southern July), a storm started to roll in. We could either bring the whole bucket in (heavy with dyed water) or leave it out through the storm. The kids decided that it’d be cooler if we left it in the rain. They were so right!
Actively being rained on.
We had a great time watching as more color streaked down the inside of the bucket and splattered in the sides! The kids made me promise that I’d rescue the wrap if lightening got closer, but the storm never got that intense. It rained for about 2 hours and then the sun came out (I still don’t understand the weather here) and we went out to see how the wrap had handled it. Honestly, we couldn’t tell in the bucket. It looked like a great big pile of really cool colors. Had the resists worked? Was it dyed everywhere? Was it a massive failure? We had no idea!
This is either a ball of awesome or a pile of crap…
Time to hose is off. You gotta get any unabsorbed dye off with cold water before you start throwing this in the washing machine. We rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. Then we squeezed it all out as best we could. When it comes to a wrap, you don’t really want to baby it. You want to “beat it up” because that’s what makes the fabric soften. Like I said before, this thing felt like cardboard when we bought it because the fabric is used for upholstery. You know how your new couch feels stiff but eventually softens up? Same exact thing.
I know Theron is in a disposable. Don’t judge; I didn’t want to get dye on a cloth diaper!
After all that, we laid it out to dry in the sun. Gotta say, it was looking pretty cool. Still super stuff and the glue resist wasn’t perfect, but the colors kept looking better as the day went by. It was cool to get this bright shock of color out of the window all day. The kids were already arguing over who was going to go up in it first. Nothing like a 7 year old arguing with a 2 year old over who mommy is going to carry around.
Once we were sure all of the gunk was off the wrap, we started washing it. We ran it through cold water in the washing machine 3 times and then switched to hot for 2 more cycles. We actually did way more washing that I think we really needed to, but we wanted to make sure. You’re basically just making sure that any excess dye is gone and then making sure it’s set in the fabric. Our favorite place to break in rough wraps (and my favorite place in all of Virginia) is Piney River. We go up there and splash around in the water, wash stuff in the mini rapids, and beat up wraps along the rocks. That’s what we did with this wrap, too. Don’t worry; by the time we took it to the river, there wasn’t anything left in it that shouldn’t be in nature.
Not “serious” rapids.
Yes, we go in this river in our clothes. A lot. I’ve made some of my jeans super soft here and we often drive home with all the kids in completely different clothes than what they got there in. Or wrapped in the many towels we’ve learned to keep in the car.
Obligatory “kids in the river” picture.
While we were working it in the river, the colors really started to brighten. It’s kinda like the more we beat on it, the more the colors started to marble.
We took it home and ran it through the dryer with our dryer balls one last time. Then we ironed it again, just to make sure. That’s when I decided that I loved it. 🙂
Like a nebula…
The colors were just so pretty after the heat had left it’s final mark on them. Because it was way less expensive than any I’ve ever bought, this wrap is kinda my “beater” wrap, meaning I take it places where it might get the crap kicked out of it. I’ve used it to visit the farmer’s market on a rainy day. It got it’s biggest work out by being the wrap I took down to the beach on vacation. The only way Theron would get in the ocean was if she was in this wrap. Yes, I wore the wrap in water. It got soaked, used as a beach blanket, covered in sand, and dried on a line in major wind. And it thrived.
I don’t have many pictures of me actually using the wrap because we’re always doing stuff when I use it. I’ve got selfies galore of all my other wraps, but this is my “doing stuff” wrap and I never seem to think to stop for a picture with it. My kids call it the rainbow wrap. 🙂 Maybe you’ll spot it at work in some of my future posts…