A coworker asked me to make him a hammock (Abracadabra, you’re a hammock!) for use when he’s going into the woods with the scout troop. He wanted Garnet and Black for a certain sports team which shall remain nameless here. I got his fabric stuff, and took the opportunity to re-try something a bit different while working out his particulars, with a piece of fabric I ordered a while back.
My first experience with tie-dye and nylon was when I bought my hammock chair about a year ago from Trippy Gear on Facebook. It looks nice and works well, and I talked back and forth with the owner many times. I bought a second piece of raw fabric from him, and made what’s become my FAVORITE piece of backpacking gear, my tie-dye hippy hammock.
My own experience with home tie-dye has been rather lackluster. Most stuff I dye just doesn’t hold the color. It looks great before washing, then after washing it looks like I accidentally left some pens in a pant pocket, and they leaked all over everything leaving faint color marks.
On my first camping gear dye, I tried using some dye designed for nylon. I started with a base of Robin Egg Blue fabric, and tried to dye it dark green and purple. It looked AWESOME when I rinsed it in the sink, but when I washed it, it looked like the fabric equivalent of a week-old bruise. Still, it was better than the Robin Egg Blue base color. Apologies to the LGBT community but that color was GAYYYYYYYYYY. My wife asked me, “What the hell are making out of that stuff, a bridesmaid’s dress?” Yeah, it was that bad before dying. It looked much different online, more blue and less bluish-white. Why a blue base? Because I didn’t want any white left over at all – it was easier to start pre-colored than start with white.
But – Spurred on with a step-by-step technique someone posted on Hammock Forums, I figured I’d give it a try. First step – RIT dye. Plain, cheap dye from Hobby Lobby or Walmart or Target. Dump in a Big Old Pot with 2 cups vinegar and 2 cups water, turn the heat on and drop in a thermometer. Wait until it hits 180.
While waiting, tie up the fabric. I used 5 yards of orange Nylon HyperD 1.6 ounce from Ripstopbytheroll.com. I have made hammock chairs out of 1 ounce HyperD but I wasn’t sure about long term stability of the fabric, so I went with the heavier weave. It has a diamond-shaped weave instead of the typical square weave of most 1.9 ounce nylon ripstop fabric. It feels a bit different and stretches a little better, but it’s a pain to cut and sew for the same reason. At least with regular square-weave ripstop you can use the squares as a cutting guide.
I went with the classic Spiral, folded the fabric in half and tucked the ends back so it was more or less a square, and twisted from the middle. I put lots of rubber bands on, because I didn’t want the dye to coat the WHOLE piece of fabric. So I had a big orange ball.
The vinegar Hell mix hit 180 and really started killing my sinuses. I plunked the ball into a gallon size Ziplock FREEZER bag (they are tougher than the cheap-o off brand non-freezer bags), and poured in the dye. I mushed all the air out, and then slipped it into another bag in case the first leaked. I put the whole thing back into the big old pot, in the sink, again in case of leakage. Then I set the clock for 90 minutes and took a nap, because the pollen is killing me and I took a Benadryl.
I think I had the ball rolled TOO TIGHT, and put too many rubber bands on the thing. After the time was up, I rinsed the fabric until the dye running off was a very light purple, and dumped the whole mess into the washer. When it came out, I could tell there was less dyed than plain. Since I folded the fabric and tucked the ends, the ends are nearly completely dyed a very dark purple, almost black against the orange fabric.
There are two spider-web patterns in the fabric, equally spaced from the ends, Shroud of Turin style because it was doubled over. I’m not sure which spiral I like better. One looks closer to a tie dye spiral but the other is this awesome spider web looking thing, just a jumbled mess. But instead of a purple/orange piece of fabric I have a mostly orange halloween looking piece.