Fabric Dying FAQ

This is a FAQ on Hand Dying fabric. In most cases the fabric is 100% cotton
bleached or unbleached muslin. The information is in no particular order.
Intermixed with individual recipies for using dyes are comments, special
techniques, types of dyes used, and where to buy the dyes. There is also
some info on stamping fabric, marbling, and tie dying. I have no profitable
connection to any companies or individuals mentioned. I hope the
information is found to be both informative and enlightening. It was to me.



In regrads to Judy Donovans insturctions for the twelve and eighteen step
triangle. The fabrics were all very subdued incolor, and not as primary as
expected. I am still pleased with the colors (earthy tones) as I do not
have them in my stash.


Dyeing fabric can be as simple or as difficult as you make it. I got
started after taking a class with Carol Esch, owner of the True Colors dyed
fabric business where she taught us to dye quarter and eighth yards in
plastic drinking cups. You can do a whole color wheel in about 16 cups on
your kitchen table. Rinsing out of the dyes can be done in your sink, with
a final synthropol rinse in the washing machine.

After learning to dye on a small scale, I branched out into doing larger
pieces in buckets (those 5-gallon buckets that you can get for free from
your supermarket bakery dept--they get icing and donut fillings in this

An excellent book for learning to dye is Judy Anne Walters' CREATING COLOR.
Judy is also a wonderful teacher--her dyeing class will give you tremendous
insight into color theory. The book is available through the Unicorn Books
place in California (address was posted earlier this week) or through the
American Quilter's Society, not to mention many bookstores. It's a
self-published book by her own company Cooler by the Lake Press.

DYE PAINTING by Ann Johnston is another wonderful source that teaches you
how to use the same dyes as paint on all kinds of cloth (thus eliminating
the bucket mess). If you think you'd prefer making unusual non-solid cloth,
this is a good aproach.

I find dyeing to be as seductive as quilting...so watch out! One good
side-effect of learning to dye is that you can create the beautiful fabrics
for much less than the merchants sell it, PLUS knowing how gives you more
willpower over buying commercial hand-dyes because you know you can do it



By popular demand, here are the instructions on dyeing either a color wheel
or gradations of one color on your kitchen table using large plastic
beverage cups as "vats":

For a twelve-step color wheel you will need

17 plastic drinking cups, approx 16 oz capacity 12 1/8 yard pieces of
PREWASHED white cotton, silk or rayon OR muslin, unbleached or bleached. NO
SYNTHETICS or BLENDS! Package of NON-iodized table salt (kosher salt is OK
too) Soda Ash (you can get it from swimming pool places, dye companies or
in a pinch, use WASHING SODA from the supermarket) 3 jars of PROCION or
other fiber reactive dye in PRIMARY COLORS

By this I mean you can choose a red, a yellow, and a blue of equal
intensity or a magenta, turquoise and saffron yellow...any three variants
of red/yellow/blue.

I use Procion RED 310, Yellow 108 and Blue 404 I have also enjoyed using
Procion Turquoise, Magenta and Golden yellow (sorry, haven't committed the
numbers to memory...but you can describe these colors to the person at the
dye store and they'll get the idea.

2 ounces of each dye should do it, especially if you're tentative about
whether you'll like the process.

Other materials: Synthropol (for washing out your dyes so they don't bleed
into your quilts)


take 3 cups, put 2 teaspoons of dye in each (so you'llhave a cup of yellow,
one of blue and one of red). Add one TABLESPOON of salt to each cup and a
CUP of warm tap water (about the temp you would use to wash dishes in...)

Stir the dyes and salt to dissolve completely. These 3 cups will be your
base colors.


Take 12 cups and arrange them on the table in a triangle shape, with yellow
at the peak of the triangle and the blue and red at opposite corners.

Fill each cup with 1 CUP of warm tap water.

Take the cup of YELLOW dye mixture. To the cup at the top of the triangle
add 4 TEASPOONS of the yellow dye mixture. Then

     to the next cup in line add 3 TEASPOONS yellow and 1 TEASPOON red
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 2 TEASPOONS yellow and 2 TEASPOONS red
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 1 TEASPOON yellow and 3 TEASPOONS red
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 4 TEASPOONS red
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 3 TEASPOONS red & 1 TEASPOON blue
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 2 TEASPOONS red & 2 TEASPOONS BLUE
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 1 TEASPOON RED & 3 TEASPOONS BLUE
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 4 TEASPOONS BLUE
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 3 TEASPOONS blue & 1 TEASPOON yellow
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 2 TEASPOONS blue & 2 TEASPOONS yellow
     "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  "  " 1 TEASPOON blue & 3 TEASPOONS yellow

Stir each cup and put an eighth yard of fabric in each, pushing the fabric
down to submerge it. STIR the fabric about 2 times in the next half hour
unless you like an uneven coloration.

After about a half hour mix up about a quart of warm water and add 1
TABLESPOON of soda ash to it. Stir to dissolve.

Going around the "triangle", lift the piece of fabric out of the cup, add
about a half cup of soda ash, stir and replace the fabric to the cup. Stir
the fabric about twice per half hour.

After the half hour is done, you can leave the fabric in the dyecups as
long as you like (even several days if you're busy) OR rinse out each piece
with HOT water in the sink to remove most of the excess, then throw all the
pieces into either the washer or the sink with synthropol and do the final
wash. Fabrics should rinse clear!

Dry in dryer on on the line.

BONUS: Don't throw away the excess dye, if you plan to rinse immediately.
Instead, put some dry white cotton fabric (1-2 yards or so) into a large
bucket. POUR THE EXCESS DYE into this bucket and let the fabric sit for
several hours, then wash out. You'll get really interesting multi-colored
fabric that's wonderful for piecing and coordinates with the 1/8yard pieces
you just made.

Pour the used dye down the drain--it is safe to do this according to the
dye companies.


Decide how many shades you want. Cut same # of fabric pieces. Do the same
procedure as the above, but in the first cup, put 1 tsp. of the dye stock,
put 2 tsp in the second, 3 tsp in the third, etc. For a more subtle
variation, increase the dye quantities by 1/2 teaspoon at a time.


You can do quarter yards or half yards at a time, but you must have cups or
vessels to allow for the fabric plus have it covered in dye bath.


increasing the amount of dye and salt will increase the intensity. Soda ash
"fixes" the color so it doesn't wash out.

Safety precautions:

Buy a paper mask (under a buck!) when you order your dye; wear it while
MEASURING dye. After the dye is wet it is no longer a respiratory hazard.

Use gloves unless you like multicolored hands; you can purchase special
hand cleaner for dyes or rub your hands with chlorine bleach, massage it in
and rinse. Voila! normal colored hands!

NEVER use spoons or cups that you've dyed with for eating. I mark my dye
cups and vessels with DYE ONLY in magic marker so that my kids won't find
them and use them for drink.



Synthropol and dye supplies are available from (among many places) the Pro
Dye and Chemical Company (1-800-2buy-dye). They send you great
instructional catalogs along with whatever you order and their prices are
good. Dharma Trading Co. and Cerulean Blue also carry procion dyes but I
don't have their numbers committed to memory.

You need about a Tablespoon of synthropol to 3 gallons of water. This is
approximate...dyeing and cooking have alot in common!

A pint of synthropol will do you fine for dyeing, prewashing quilt fabrics
and removing bleeding dyes.


you can do an 18 color triangle too. START WITH 6 TEASPOONS of dye in the
first cup, follow the procedure given (add 1 tsp of second color, remove a
teaspoon of the first with each step.)

The mathematics of the color wheel are (# of steps on the color wheel)
divided by 3 (your primaries) equals the number of teaspoons of dye stock
you need to start with and end with for each primaries...so for an 18 step
wheel, start with 6 teaspoons yellow, progress to 6 teaspoons or of red,
progress to 6 teaspoons of blue.

How's that for using math in a relevant way?

TROUBLESHOOTING: If your fabric has funny spots on it, you may need to add
water softener to your water. Hard water makes dye concentrate in funny
specks on the fabric.

If your fabric has kind of a tie-dyed look that you don't like, consider
using larger cups and STIR MORE during both the salt/dye soak and the final
soda ash soak.


Dyeing need not be rocket science! Experiment and enjoy the results. I
highly recommend the "dump bucket" for using the dye you pour out of each

You can also play by dipping a fabric in one color, then lettingit soak in
another. You can bind the fabric a la tie dye and dye it one shade, then
re-tie and dye another shade.

It's highly seductive!



Thanks Judy for the instructions for percentage dyeing of fabric.

Here are some extra suggestions for those of us who find it difficult to
get some chemicals.

**If you can't get Soda Ash use washing soda BUT you need to double the
amount as it isn't as strong.

**If you can't get synthrapol (no-one has heard of it here) use a bit of
vinegar in the rinse water and then wash fabric in warm soapy water.

**I use plastic milk jugs, gallon size. I cut the top off so that there is
a wide enough opening, but I leave the handle intact.

**Is there a bakery near, school near. They sometimes have food stuffs
arrive in plastic 5 gallon buckets. They may be willing to give to you.

**Or maybe a feed store. Some of the stuff we get for the sheep are in 5
gallon buckets.

**Any kind of container--glass, plastic or metal would do--as long as it
doesn't leak. If you use metal, make sure it's something like stainless
steel or enameled metal. Iron or aluminum containers *could influence the
colors somewhat. This is especially true when you dye yarn with natural
dyes--metals like iron and aluminum are the mordants and can

change the colors considerably. **I get those great indestructable 5 gallon
plastic buckets from the bakery department at my supermarket. They're
free--they usually throw them away after they use up the icing or donut
filler that is in them.

**Plastic cat food containers (like those from "deli cat" are good for
dyeing. Better than throwing them away. I bought a set of 20 ounce tumblers
(plastic) cheap from the supermarket-- they are great for small scale
I really appreciated your wonderful primer on dyeing fabric. It does 
sound VERY seductive! I have one question. After you mix the small amount
of soda ash with the qquart of warm water, it is this solution that you
add about a half cup to each container of fabric, right? Your original
post just said to add a half cup soda ash, but I thought maybe you meant
the soda ash solution.   You're absolutely right--add a half cup of the
soda ash/water mixture to each cup of fabric and dye. PLEASE DON'T add a
half cup of powdered soda ash to each cup of fabric/dye--you'll have a
pasty mess and you'll waste a good deal of soda ash! Thanks for asking for
clarification--you may have saved some potential disasters. Judy

**I've been using plastic mop buckets for my procion dyeing. I found them
on sale at the 5&10 for 99 cents each, so I bought 10 of them... Check your
local discount department store or K-mart type store.

**For any of you scientists out there (or with lab connections): Since I
just conducted a chemical inventory of 2500 different chemical containers
in my department, I figured I had to have soda ash somewhere around her.
Sure enough, soda ash is also known as sodium carbonate, technical grade
(99% pure).


***note this post should follow the next one***

I've sueded many fabrics (mostly silks and linens) using the technique you
describe. However the folks at Cherry Hill are doing something in the dye
process to achieve their effect. Their fabrics are softly mottled as if you
brushed your hands over a piece of suede and it moves the nap in different
directions causing the light to reflect differently. Well, that's the best
way I can describe it, anyway. I've read somewhere that this is done by not
stirring the fabric in the dye pot. I'm sure there's some trick to know
just how much to stir it (or not to stir it) to get this effect. Their
fabrics are beautiful and pricey. I just bought some at PIQF. I suspect
that after the fabric is dyed that they do abrade it in the dryer to
complete the effect.

I've been meaning to play around with my Procion dyes to see if I can
duplicate this effect. But I find it difficult to get enough time to do any
fabric dyeing these days. A side note -- I visited Dharma yesterday in
Marin. Although I've mail ordered Procion dyes, synthrapol, etc. from them
before, I'd never visited the shop. What a fun place! (It's primarily a
yarn shop which really surprised me.)

By the way, Cherry Hill will send you a "catalog" for $5. (It consists of
1/2 inch square pieces of their fabrics in all the colors they offer --
both sueded and non-sueded. They also offer dyed ribbing to match!!!) I can
get the order info if anyone is interested. I received a catalog at PIQF
since I spent so much money. :-) (And no, I don't get anything from them in



The "hand dyed" sampler sets that are sold in quilt > stores here (St.
Paul, MN) have a `sueded' look. I think > they are made by Cherryhill?
(Cherry Creek?) or something > like that. Do you know how the sueded look
is achieved? > It's a wonderfully subtle texture.

Yes I know how to suede! After you finish your dye project, you wash the
fabric again with warm water, a cup of vinegar and throw in some objects
like sneakers (clean ones) to bang around the fabric while it's being
washed. Sometimes you have to repeat the wash process until it gets
"sueded' enough.


On the subject of dying, I learned an interesting technique last weekend at
a quilting class. The teacher was David Walker. He does contemporary quilts
used as art.

He takes black fabric and lays it out on his concrete porch. Using straight
bleach in a squirt bottle, he randomly sprays onto the black fabric. Let
the bleach sit about 5 minutes. Rinse the fabric in water. Set the fabric
in vinegar water and wash. Then he overdyes them intense colors with Dharma
dye. The fabric looks great! It makes a good background kind of thing. He
doesn't wash his quilts. The Dharma dye may not be colorfast.

***Dharma mostly sells Procion dyes. They might sell others, but their
primary product is Procion. Procion is very colorfast.

***In my message about overdying black fabric that had been partially
bleached - the instructer uses Deka dyes not Dharma as I had said. These
dyes are not hazardous to breathe in powder form as the Procion dyes are.


The idea of using chlorine bleach to create white spots on fabric (and then
perhaps overdying these) sounds intriguing. However, I'd be concerned about
doing this to any fabric which would receive moderate or heavy wear. As a
wife/mom/washerwoman of many years, I do resort to chlorine bleach for some
types of stains. Usually I delete the bleach first and put it in a squeeze
bottle so it can be dripped precisely on the spot, then the moment the spot
fades it gets a thorough rinsing and immediate washing. In spite of such
precautions, the chlorine does weaken the cloth, and after a few more
washings the garment or tablecloth may develop a hole where the bleach
affected it.

I'd be definitely unhappy to create a quilt intended to become a family
heirloom, only to have it become religious (hole-y) in a few years.


For those people interested in Judy Donovan's wonderful post a few weeks
ago on hand-dyeing, I have found a good source of moderately sized
containers. I went to my local Dairy Queen and they were able to give me
nearly a dozen 1.5 gallon buckets with lids that their ice cream comes in.
I also picked up a few 4 and 5 gallon buckets that they use for strawberry
topping and pickles. They were more than happy for me to take them (the guy
said, good, now WE don't have to wash them!) and you can't beat free. Of
course now our garage smells like pickles and ice cream!! I have been
soaking them in a bleach solution then washing them with soapy water. That
gets clean all but the grossest ones!


I'm hooked! I have a new hobby to take up my time and energy. My husband
and i marbled some fabric. It was so much fun (not too messy). We may just
decide to dye, marble and block print most of my quilt fabrics in the
future (not likely, since I still love the fabrics I see in the stores).
This means that I won't have to go running around looking for that precise
shade of violet that I NEED, I'll just make it myself. I've already placed
a second order for more supplies. This has also sparked my husband's
interest in block printing again. The old breyer and inks have come out of
the closet and he's roaring to go. The only problem is we just got new
carpeting and installed a new kitchen floor- Fabric bits vacuum up, but ink
doesn't! We'll just have to be real careful. Gradation dyeing is next....


*Marbling Supplies*

I've gotten a number of requests information on purchasing marbling
supplies. I purchased the starter set from Dharma Trading Co. Their phone
number is 415-621-5597. They will be more than happy to send you a catalog.
Supplies take an average of 8 days to get to MD from them, so plan

ProChem also sells marbling kits (1-800-2buy-dye). They sell a standard
color set, a "BRITE" set (more intense colors) and a PEARLIZED set (paints
with a little pearlish sparkle). The set includes complete instructions.

One word of advice: if you think you'll enjoy marbling, order an extra
packet or two of the marbling thickener (called either "metholcellulose" or
"gum"). What you get with the starter kit is only enough for one marbling
session-- and once you get started you'll feel frustrated if you run out of
goop to float the pigments on. It's also very inexpensive (a couple bucks a


I just got a slew of dye company catalogs last night (wow! I'm not sure I
ever learned as much from catalogs as I did last night!) I noticed that at
least one of them sells 100% pima cotton broadcloth for dyeing, for quite a
pretty penny (~$9/yard). Not knowing the stuff existed in bolt form before
Donna sent me some shades this spring, I stumbled across it at a local
fabric store this fall before I got interested in dyeing (or I'd have
bought the whole bolt!) in jewel tones, black, and white. Their (Cloth
World) regular price is only $5.95, and the first that I got back in
September was $3.47 or so on sale. A yard. For the exact same stuff, I'm
pretty darn sure. (I don't think the fabric is specially prepared in any
way by the dye company. It didn't say so, anyways.)

So if you've been buying the 100% pima cotton broadcloth from these
mailorder places (I recall Rupert, Gibbons, & Simon selling it for sure,
possibly Cerulean Blue and Dharma, too), you might try looking at your
local fabric store chain. I've not seen it at So-Fro/House of Fabrics or
Hancocks/Fabric Warehouse, and I've been looking there, but Cloth World
still had some in stock last time I was in.

The fabric is tightly woven, a dream to cut and sew, and almost silky to
the touch. I read that it's a dream to dye, too.


*instead of tea dying*

This may work, but from what I've heard from other teachers, no way should
anyone be using tea to tea-dye if you're concerned about the longevity of
your finished project. The tannic acid from the tea will eventually destroy
the fabrics.

***In a class I took on creating new quilts with an old look, Barbara
Brackman suggested using Tan RIT Dye to give fabrics an aged look. Sounds a
lot more reasonable to me, though a lot less romantic. :)

***I would recommend finding a nice shade of brown procion MX dye and
overdyeing your fabric with a very faint amount of dye. You would get the
same effect, but your overdyed fabric would be lightfast and colorfast and
not inclined to deteriorate. I'll play with my favorite brown and see if I
can come up with a nice recipe for overdyeing fabrics. I'll report back,
hopefully before Dec. 1st!

***I use hibiscus leaves for a beautiful dye on my doilies. You could use
the Celestial Seasonings type, but I prefer the leaves straight! Make the
infusion in water with white vinegar added to help it stay. A better
permanent dye is to buy a red beet at the supermarket and chop it and boil
it in water and vinegar. Strain and then dye your goodie.

*for info on Tea Dying

While I have only done about 6 series of gradations, I have the following

I have followed Judy Anne Walters' book for dyeing, and I have found it to
be very good. The only drawback to her methods (IMHO) is that they use very
little dyeing solution/liquid. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to get
a piece of fabric totally immersed in the dye bath. Jan Newbury uses more
liquid (and more dye); however, I haven't followed her recipes.

I was dyeing to gather fabrics for a Judi Warren workshop, and I was trying
to get smooth solids. I found that the clear Rubbermaid large sweater boxes
with blue lids worked better for me than the 5 gallon buckets, because I
could spread out the fat quarters almost flat (and I have short arms for
the buckets).


May I suggest 3 books all from Interweave Press PH.1800-645-3675. Hands on
Dyeing for $8.95, North American Dye Plants for $8.95 and a new book Indigo
Madder & Marigolds for $29.95. All of these books are for the beginner as
well as the advanced dyer.


I've used RIT dye a few times, with mixed results. Sometimes it makes my
clothes turn out lovely, and other times the dye tends to face or discolor.
It's pretty hit or miss, since clothes from the same batch can turn out
differently. I did I batch of a gorgeous medium blue that gives white
cottons a "denim" look; everything came out great at the time and then a
month later one of the shirts began to discolor horribly.

THe only non-commercial dye I've tried is loose tea, which can give
beautiful colors to things, but I think it's unpredictable. I think a
little vinegar CAN be a helpful setting/intensifying agent, but I would be
cautious before trying it in combination with something I'd never used.


I've been dying fabric for a couple of months (with much help from Judy).
I've found that the most fun and easiest way is to: Soak the fabric in soda
ash and salt. (proportions as per 'Hands on Dyeing' book by Betsy
Bloominthal and Kathry Kreider) and then prepare the dye with just water.
You can keep the dye for 6 months in glass jars. Then you just wring out
the soaked fabric and drip the dye on the fabric in any way that seems
interesting. You can tie the fabric for a tie dye effect or just soak it in
a single color for a mottled effect. I must warn you that the biggest
danger to all this is that it becomes impossible to keep white cotton in
the house. You keep using it up.

***I bought a set of 20 ounce tumblers (plastic) cheap from the supermaket
they are great for small scale dyeing.

*** I went to specialty paint stores and found various sized plastic
buckets and containers for very good prices. Also stirring sticks that you
can have for free.

*** on sueding fabric: After you finish your dye project, you wash the
fabric again with warm water, a cup of vinegar and throw in some objects
like sneakers (clean ones) to bang around the fabric while it's being
washed. Sometimes you have to repeat the wash process until it gets
"sueded" enough.

*** on chemicals: If you can't get soda ash use washing soda BUT you need
to double the amount as it isn't as strong.

***If you can't get synthrapol, use a bit of vinegar in the rinse water and
then wash the fabric in warm soapy water.


*** on rubberstamping fabric:

You can use virtually any rubberstamp with a fabric paint on cotton
fabric... I've used ceramcoat brand by delta. This is an acrylic paint
(often used in marbling) and can be thinned down to whatever consistency
you need. The finer the detailing on the stamp, the more you'll need to
water it so it doesn't glob over the lines... but not much! For most
stamping, I'm able to use it full strength.

I would recommend mixing textile medium with Acrylic paints to use on
fabric. I recently learned to do some fabric painting with acrylic. The
textile medium helps the paint penetrate and stay on the fabric after
washing, itc. It comes in a bottle and is put out by several manufact-
urers. It can be purchased wherever you buy paint supplies. I heat treat
fabric by ironing on both sides with a press cloth on a medium heat. Reds
can turn brown or orange if the iron is too hot. Do not wash the fabric for
about 10 days to allow the paint to set.


I have dabbled in fabric dyeing and have some successes and some other
results. What I have discovered is that the fabric never comes out as dark
as I want it to be. When I pull it out of the dye bath - that's the color I
want, but when it dries, it's shades lighter. One thing I have tried is to
add some black dye when I want a darker, stronger color. I had been trying
to add more dye, but that is not the way to get deeper colors. Try doing
small pieces of fabric (10" square) in little 16oz cups to get some
practice in mixing colors.


Mud Fabrics:

When I learned to dye with Procion fiber reactive dyes, the instructor
taught me about "mud" fabrics. To make mud fabrics, get one or two large
plastic wastebasket. As you dye each fabric, pour the finished dye water
(water + salt + dye + dye activator aka soda) into the wastebasket. Soak
1-6 yards of fabric in a salt water solution and then put that into the
wastebasket. Let the fabric soak at least several hours, typically
overnight. Stir occassionally. Rinse it forever! The resulting fabric will
usually be a light or medium color, usually very pretty and unusual and
often a "muddy" shade.

Mud fabrics need to soak a long time because they are in water that already
has the dye activator. They never have a chance for the unactivated dye to
bond with the fabric. Thus there is not much free dye to react with the
fabric. Similarly most of the dye washes out because it was activated
during the initial dyeing session. The resulting fabrics are often very
light colored.

I usually put all of my extra dye water into one or two large tubs and dye
a batch of mud fabrics. It is very interesting to see the colors that
result. The darkest mud colors are a medium shade (probably when I
over-calculate the amount of dye to add!!!) and many are fairly pale

I will often make make different mud dye-baths with different color combos.
E.g. if I'm dying several fuschias and purples they will go on one mud-tub
and leftover water from greens and turquoises will go in a second mud-tub.
Last year I made a beautiful pale mint green as a mud fabric from several
green dyebaths. I also happened on a pale sky blue resulting from several
blue and purple dyebaths.

It is fascinating to see:

-) how dark the fabric is when it comes out of the dye bath, yet how light
it is when completely washed (i.e. much of the dye washes out). Often the
fabric changes color considerably during the washing stage!!!!! I've
started washing the mud colors in the washing machine because they take
FOREVER to wash out!!!

-) how the different dyes contribute to the color of the mud fabric. For
example, if you have a dye bath with turquoises and fuschias you might find
that the mud fabric is either predominantly tuquoise or fuschia. Apparently
different dyes have different characteristics when they are used to dye
fabric AFTER adding the activator. Similarly if you have a dye that had
yellow in it, you may or may not see the yellow in your final mud fabric.

During today's dye session, I was aiming to dye a deep purple. I used
tuquoise, fuschia and black and a bleached muslin. It turns out that the
result was a more smokey purple than I expected (very blue and deep; a
color similar to a night-sky color). Even though I had only one dye bath, I
decided to put a few yards of *un*bleached muslin into the remaining dye
bath to see what sort of mud fabric would result. I was very surprised to
find it was predominantly a medium turquoise (somewhat toned down by the
black and the unbleached muslin). The fuschia had almost disappeared.

I will be including a small section of this mud fabric when I send my dyed
fabric out. If you've never tried making making mud fabrics, I urge you to
throw a few yards of muslin (or cheap muslin if you're reluctant to
experiment!) into the final dyebaths next time. It's always fascinating to
see what comes out of the mud tub! I no longer bet on the results; I'm
surprised every time!


I've been seeing lots of basic questions about the use of salt, vinegar and
soda ash in dyeing.

Here's what I've learned (I've been dyeing....slowly and happily...for the
last five years):

When you are using FIBER REACTIVE dye, such as Procion MX for cotton or
rayon, you use SALT in the dyebath to increase the intensity of color
absorption (translation: if you want darker colors, use more salt and
increase the quantity of dye powder--for pastels, use less salt and less
dye powder).

SODA ASH (sodium carbonate) is the alkali that SETS the dye. It's what
dyers call the "mordant". No soda ash and your dye job will fade like those
popular RIT dyes do. And they'll bleed like a stuck pig.

VINEGAR is used as the "mordant" for fibers like silk and wool because,
even though they like the fiber reactive dyes, they require an acid to set
them. If you're doing large quanitity dyeing of wools, you buy ACETIC ACID,
which is essentially highly concentrated vinegar.

HEAT SETTING of the Procion dyes is NOT NECESSARY for cottons, rayons and
most silks. You MUST heat set for wool, whether it's yarn or yardage.

The popular myth that "vinegar sets bleeding fabric" gets reinforced when
the fabric in question has been dyed with another kind of dye that requires
an acid to set it. It *does not* chemically set fiber reactive dyes on
cottons, rayons and silks. But it works like a charm if you have a wool
sweater that's bleeding.

So, if any of you are out there heat setting your procion-dyed cottons, you
really don't need to do it unless you enjoy the process!

Judy (who enjoys creating color almost more than quilting!)

Look at other items of interest in our "home on the web".
We are in the process of designing and building the rest of our 'home'.
The Master's Tech Home Entrance
The Master's Tech Home Architectural Layout | The Master's Tech Site Index

The Kitchen: Cooking Articles | Cooking & Recipe Newsgroups | Recipes for Everyone
The Library: The Bible | American Sign Language Dictionary | Typeface Previews
The Sewing Room: Crafts Projects | Sewing Articles | Sewing Projects
Links: The Master's Tech Links | Other People's Links | Our Visitors' homepages

Search our 'home' | Search the Internet!
Sponsorship Opportunities


Back Button Personal hosting with business level support; Business hosting with personal support!
Apple Computer, Inc. Logo
Another creation of The Master's Tech.
Copyright © 1996-2024 Privacy Policy
Made with a Mac