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Supa-cute Baby E sporting a hand-dyed tee and crib sheet.
For those of you that didn’t catch wind of this, Austin was stupid-hot this summer. Like, days and days and days of 100+ degree heat kind of hot. It was brutal. And although our apartment complex featured a small, shaded pool to which we ventured across the non-shaded parking lot each day around 3 pm (when we just couldn’t take our imprisonment anymore), we eventually grew bored. Of the pool. Of the bathtub. Of crayons. Of crayons on walls. Of all the other air conditioned baby-friendly places in Austin.

Then I got an idea for a project. And a glimmer of hope and transformation shone in the distance, somewhere beside the blinding, blazing hot sun.

Two of my friends were pregnant at the time. Which makes me look pretty lame for bitching about the heat, but hey, it was bad for everyone (though no doubt the worst for them… To be fair, we did extend an open invite to the pool to the Austin Mama… And she sure cashed in, believe you me). One of these pregnant friends was back in New York, too, and she actually inspired my project. I wanted to send her a gift, something that somewhat approximated the in-person girl-date we’d have otherwise had were I not landlocked on the hottest spot on the planet, and wherein I'd take her out for lunch, manicures and the mom-to-be business of good friends. I wanted to make her something that would simultaneously build upon her excitement, welcome her little one, and communicate my love for her whole fam (which would soon expand to three).
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Baby E. "before"-- her mom's supa-cute, too, and internet-shy. :-)
And I wanted it to be colorful. So that’s when it came to me: I was going to rock some dye! I was going to mix up colors and let all of the white fabrics I could find just steep in the heat, become saturated and bright and bold. Fuck pastels. These babies—both of them girls—were late-summer arrivals, and August don’t mess. Not in Austin, and not in Brooklyn. Color was called for. Loud and clear.

Click Read More below for the rest of the post!
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Once I knew I’d be doing a dye project, I started collecting white things around our home, and from other friends who wanted to throw in (I was going to have a lot more dye than I needed for the new-baby items alone). A pair of massage sheets, onesies galore, t-shirts, towels. And, for the new babies in question, I ordered some organic tees, some tiny tanks and some ulta-soft bamboo crib sheets

The baby T’s, dye, soda ash (a fixer) and Syntrapol detergent (for the post-project wash-- it makes the dye hold in the fabric) for the project came from Dharma Trading Company, and I picked up some big buckets, and what I thought were fume-filtering face masks (read on) at Target. I think I spent over $100 on all of these items, so this wasn’t exactly an inexpensive project (just FYI). Another down-side was that the dye packages now featured a warning label (“for California residents”… evidently legislation in that state alone requires that this information is shared with the public) stating that the dye in its powder form is a known carcinogen, and should not be inhaled.

I had my little masks, and appreciated that at least one progressive state feels it necessary to note carcinogens on products' packaging, but was still somewhat unnerved by this announcement… All the more so when Aaron took a look at my protective wear (post-project) and informed me that the masks I'd purchased didn’t filter fumes at all (they were, like, SARS masks, at best). I’d tried not to breathe while mixing the dye powder with water, but what can I say-- the stuff wafts. I probably did inhale some of it. Thus is life. I also felt pretty guilty when pouring the used dye-water down my bathtub’s drain… It’s not like it was a biohazard, but, I dunno… chemicals suck. And everything we wear that’s colored, unless you dyed it using vinegar and teabags (which can be done), was probably made that way, with toxic dye. I did some research, and that's the way it goes with colored textiles, whether your actual fabrics are organic or not. The good news is that once you wash your fabric-wares, you’re good to go; the color’s set and the dye substance itself is gone.

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An Alt-Mama baby gift, ready to go.
Anyway, beyond those downsides, the project was way fun. I’m not detail-oriented in my project execution technique, ever; for this one, I read over the directions online and just poured everything into the buckets at once, stirred the fabrics a few times over the ballpark-appropriate timeframe, rinsed, washed, and admired. I wasn’t going for uniform color, or for something I could replicate later, so I didn’t need to be exact. Some of the larger items ended up looking a little tie-dyed— the massage sheets, most noticeably—but massage school is a tie-dye friendly place, so, I embraced it.

And the baby items: swooooon. They turned out exactly as I’d hoped. I combined them with some other choice gifts and packaged them up for the mommies. Both were delighted upon opening. Baby E's mama wrote: "I love all this stuff! Thank you for bringing vibrant gorgeous colors into a world that is far too pastel. I'm dreaming of rainbow tights and red shoes now. :)"

SHAZAM.

Both mama's gave birth soon after. And here are the baby girls now, rockin’ their endless-summer style:


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Baby M. says: "It's easy wearing green and being gorgeous."
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Baby E. says: "Yeah, I can model."
 


Crystal
11/02/2011 09:01

Cute, cute, cute! Can you make me and J one? LOL! Kidding, I know that takes a long time and money to do. You are so creative! Wish I had one ounce of creativity.

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11/04/2011 12:56

I wanted to say that these are super cute and I wanted to thank you for reading your post i decided that i wanted to start my own blog for young mothers http://chloescrazymommy.wordpress.com...and i would love to have some imput and get the blog out there thanks kass

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11/07/2011 18:25

Thanks for the props, ladies! Crystal, I'll totally count you in next time I do a dye project. I think I'm going to try out the teabags (slash beets/blueberries/bright things) and vinegar approach soon, so if you're up for an experiment, we've got ourselves a deal. Kassandra, I checked out your blog, and really like it! Love the range of perspectives that blogging gives the world big, honest windows into. Keep on, keep on telling your story. :-)

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Crystal
11/08/2011 18:34

Taylor, I'm up for it. Its a deal! ;) I think the tea bags will work wonderfully!

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01/24/2014 02:32

Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real effort to make a good article... but what can I say... I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

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