Bleeding Fabric FAQ

Thanks to those who replied to my bleeding fabric question. Here are the
replies that I got. (The vinegar solution worked for me, but I'll probably
buy the dye fixative that was suggested.) Lisa

Lisa, perhaps a "gentler" way to fix the dye would be to order a dye
fixative from one of the dye companies (I got a huge jug from Pro-Chem
(they of the catchy 800 # = 800/2BUY-DYE)) they market it under the name
Re-tayne. It is suppose to both fix any unfixed dye and wash it away so it
will no longer cause bleeding problems. I've used the entire jug, using 1
tsp to the yd. when prewashing all my new fabrics - it seems to work well
(no bleeding to date - and I have a rather awesome fabric collection!) The
gallon was around $14 if I recall, well worth it from my perspective. I've
also heard about the vinegar bath, but have heard that it's a fairly
caustic way to treat your fabric. Mary Beth

I use 1 part vinegar to three parts water whenever I have a problem with
fabric bleeding. it does not hurt the fabric so far as I can tell. But I am
always careful to rinse out the vinegar very thoroughly so that it doesn't
eat into the fabric for years. If vinegar in the water doesn't stop the
bleeding I decide whether or not to keep the fabric. If I do keep it, I put
it in a special pile with a note folded into it (not pinned) reminding me
that it continued to bleed. I keep these fabrics in a special place. But of
over 2000 fabrics I have only found three that continued to bleed after the
vinegar treatment. If I decide to use them, it will be with dark fabrics
that wouldn't be much affected. Diane

If the suggestion your quilt shop owner suggested doesn't work, what you
need to to is buy some SYNTHROPOL (a detergent used by dyers to remove
bleeding dye from fabric). You put a teaspoon of the stuff in hot water and
wash the bleeding fabric, rinse and wash again if needed. Once the rinse
water runs clear your fabric is dyefast. I am an experienced dyer and swear
by the stuff! You can order it from places like Pro Chemical & Dye Co. Very
inexpensive. Call 800/2BUY-DYE to order. If you have a yarn shop that sells
dyes for fibers, they will likely stock Synthropol because you really need
it for any kind of dyeing, wool or fabric. Judy

Boy am I confused! Based on the comments on this topic I called
800-2bye-dye number to order some Synthrapol. They directed me to their
non-800 number saying they didn't think this was the product I wanted. The
customer service people told me synthrapol is a fabric wetting agent used
to prepare fabric for dyeing, but does not work to set dye. They
recommended retayne for this purpose. Does anyone know what gives? Judi

Retayne actually SETS errant dyes so they'll stop bleeding, the Synthropal
"floats" out any unfixed dye and keeps it from "fixing" itself onto areas
of the fabric that you don't want to be stained. I used my entire gallon of
retayne as a "prewash" for my new fabrics, Now that it's gone, I'm using
the synthropal for the same purpose. Just from my own "bleeding thread"
experience, I'd say try it first with the Synthropal - you don't wnat to
"fix" the dye that's already moved to the wrong areas of the quilt, you
want to "float" it away. Mary Beth

Synthrapol is a "super surfactant" meaning it scours fibers of sizing, oils
and other stuff that might interfere with dyeing. You use it to prewash
fabric prior to dyeing. Its other function is to remove UNREACTED dye from
fiber after you finish dyeing something. So dyers wash freshly dyed
material in it to get rid of unreacted dye--which is the cause of most
bleeds. Synthrapol DOES NOT work to set dyes. The soda ash or salt that you
add to the dyebath has that function. What it does do is get rid of excess
dye that will, if not removed, bleed the next time the fabric is wetted. So
the Pro people were right -- it doesn't set dyes. But you still need it if
you want to use it to prewash quilt fabric to remove any unreacted dye
before you put the fabric in a quilt. It would be heaven if all fabric
manufacturers used something like Synthrapol to remove the bleeds. But they
don't. And some intentionally leave the excess dye in the fabric to make it
appear darker when you buy it. So that's why prewashing with Synthrapol is
a good idea for suspicious fabrics or even those that you can see will
bleed a little. Judy

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