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Dyed Sweatshirt Jacket

Heidi Read cuts, dyes, appliques and stitches decorative touches to her colorful sweatshirt jacket.

Materials and Tools:

fiber reactive dyes
soda ash
water and large bucket
squeeze bottles
latex or rubber gloves
scrap fabrics for appliqué
tulle, buttons, specialty yarn
rayon thread
ribbon label
scissors, plastic bag, straight pins
washing machine and dryer
sewing machine with embroidery foot
absorbent paper such as unprinted newsprint


1. Soak the sweatshirt in soda ash with water in a bucket. Wearing rubber or latex gloves, squeeze out the liquid. Wear an apron to protect clothing.

2. Spread the sweatshirt on absorbent paper. Mix various colors of fiber reactive dyes according to manufacturer's directions in squeeze bottle applicators. Apply various colors of fabric dyes by squeezing the dyes directly on the sweatshirt from a squeeze bottle or applying them with a paintbrush.

3. Apply dyes to both the front and back of the sweatshirt. Wear latex or rubber gloves and rub the dyes into the fabric with your hands, mixing the colors together.

4. Wrap the sweatshirt a plastic bag and let it "batch set" for 24 hours.

5. Wash out the dyes with Synthrapol in the washing machine, rinsing multiple times. Dry the sweatshirt in the dryer.

6. Cut off the cuffs, neckband and the bottom band of the sweatshirt.

7. Cut up the front center of the sweatshirt from the bottom to the neckline to make a jacket.

8. Cut wide stems, round flowers and leaf shapes from bright fabric scraps. Cut a glove-shaped hand for the back of the shirt.

9. Pin the fabric cutouts in a design on the front and back of the sweatshirt.

10. Machine-stitch the fabric designs on the sweatshirt with decorative free-motion embroidery stitching on the sewing machine.

11. Create flower petals with embroidery stitching and stitch the flower's stems.

12. Embellish the flowers with buttons, ribbons and tulle.

13. Serge the neck, front and cuff edges. Turn the fabric under to the back and stitch the facings on the neck, front and cuffs.

14. Stitch buttons along the edge of one front side and form buttonholes on the other front edge from ribbon yarn.

15. Sew a label onto the dyed sweatshirt jacket.

Heidi Read from Boise, Idaho, calls herself a "costume therapist." She creates outfits for the Gesundheit! Institute (the group was made famous by the movie "Patch Adams"). She loves rich vibrant colors and patterns, which are evident in her crazy, colorful hand-dyed sweatshirt cardigans.

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