Testfabric swatch books for your costume/dye studio

This past spring semester, my graduate level crafts course was called "Dyeing and Surface Design." We spend the first third of that class on the nuts and bolts of dye as a medium--fiber identification, different classes of dye and how to use them properly, how to select the right type of dye for a given project, color matching, and discharging of dye (color removal).

Part of thiat first section involves the making of a Testfabric swatch book. We use Testfabric MFF 43, a multifiber fabric woven with stripes of thirteen common fiber types, from cotton to acetate to wool to polypropylene. With this type of fabric structure, you can see how a dyestuff affects all thirteen fibers.

The first collection of Testfabric swatches the students create covers the Rit Professional Line of dyes, which is the most common dye brand found in theatrical dyeshops. Rit is a union dye, which means its a formulated blend of different types of dye so that it will color the widest range of fibers. This is ideal for circumstances in which the fiber content of the garment to be dyed is unknown, as with a costume pulled from stock or a length of unlabeled fabric. We also create this type of swatch library for the Aljo line of disperse dyes (used on acetate and nylon).

The first couple times I taught this course, the students assembled these swatch libraries into whatever type of resource they prefered--a ring or swatches like a hair-color wheel, a notebook of swatches stapled to cardstock, a folding poster of them that can be mounted on a wall. About three years ago, the students decided collectively to use a binder organization method that I liked so much, I reorganized my own Testfabrics libraries the same way!

Testfabric swatches of Rit dyes

Check these things out! They are coupon/currency organizer sleeves, for paper-currency collectors or those super-coupon-clipper people who shop with binders and wind up paying like $2 for three cartloads of groceries. However, they're also perfect for Testfabric swatches, too! The plastic sleeve protects the swatch from paint drips or errant dye particles in the environment of the dye shop, but also allows you to remove the swatch and take it into a fitting or design consultation.

Do you have Testfabric swatch collections like these for the dyes in you dye studio?

If so, how do you organize them?


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