When I first heard of Lumi Sunfold dye, it made me think of the nature prints I made at scout camp using specially treated paper. We would place leaves, sticks, grass, and shells on specially-treated paper, then lay the paper in the sun. This would result in simple prints of our designs.
That is the basic theory behind the product… here is what they say about their kit:
An exciting new way to print elegant patterns on any natural fabric. Takes the fuss out of tie-dye for simple fashionable looks.
I love tie-dye. I have tried all different kinds of techniques, and have a blast with it. I was excited to try this new kind of tie dye! The Lumi Sunfold dye uses a light-reactive dye that you expose to sunlight to get your color. Similar to watching a photograph develop, you get to watch your shirt develop.
Let me warn you – I made a TON of mistakes using the Lumi Sunfold kit. I’ll tell you all my mistakes, so that you don’t make them!
The first was that I didn’t shake the dye bottle. The product had settled, and came out a little clumpy. I was able to mix it up in the bucket, but it wasn’t ideal. Shake your bottle!
You have options for mixing your water-to-dye ratio. I used about a 1:1 ratio of water and dye.
After making that first mistake, I read the instructions a second time, then dipped my garments. I put them in the sun on a cloudy Vegas day.
Watching the dye change as it is exposed to light is pretty awesome. You can see the bottom piece has some white – this is because I had rubber-banded the shirt like traditional tie dye. This is not traditional tie-dye. With traditional tie-dye, all the exposed edges are dyed, and the dye soaks in towards the center. With this kit, ONLY the areas exposed to light will get color. That is important for lots of reasons. So, don’t scrunch your clothes tightly – keep it loose to expose more fabric.
When working with the dye, it can be a little hard to see where your dye has dripped, if it hasn’t started exposing yet. When working on my red shirts, I managed to get some blue drips on the shirt that I didn’t notice until the shirt was already in the sun, getting exposed.
The photo above is the red right after being placed in the sun, and below about 20 minutes later… so fun to see the colors brighten!
It was a cloudy day, so I left the shirts in the sun for about 45 minutes to get a lot of exposure. If you want both sides of your shirt to have color, double the time, flipping the shirt halfway through. Yes, this was another mistake I made – some of my shirts only have color on one side!
After exposing to light, rinse out the shirts and use the enclosed wash. Here is where I made another mistake. I dyed other clothes using Rit Dye on the same day, and wasn’t careful enough when rinsing out the dye… then I washed everything together. The red dye that I hadn’t rinsed out well enough made everything a reddish purple! Oh no! Be sure to wash your freshly dyed clothes in batches, regardless of the kind of dye you are using.
Here are two blue sunfold shirts… as you can see, since they were very folded, not much was exposed to sun. These are okay, but not awesome.
Here is one next to a traditionally dyed shirt. You can see that the shirt to the right has a lot more contrast, as well as a less random design.
The Lumi dye (left) does get some really pretty, vibrant color. Very close in color to the darkest shade on the Rit dyed shirt (right).
The red dye results are more striking. The red Lumi dye is very bright, whereas the Rit dye is more pink. However, the Rit dye has a more pleasing pattern that was simple to make, and easy to duplicate.
I really enjoyed the Lumi Sunfold as an alternative way to create fun designs. The process was simple, the color turned out great, and though the designs weren’t as intricate as I hoped for, they were fun! In the future, I would make sure to flip each garment to get color on both sides, use a very loose fold to get lots of color, and make sure to wash the garments separately to keep the whites white, and the colors crisp.
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