Well yesterday I jumped in into fabric dying. I did fat quarters in small ziploc baggies. Theresa did such a great job with her tutorial, I reviewed it several times before just to make sure I was doing it right. It kinda was an all day process with the washing afterward, but they are Beautiful! I actually got 14 fat quarters dyed and I am very happy with them. Now to use them in a wall hanging, or something. I am also thinking of trying more.
I also had a question about whether or not you need to use a respirator with the Dust Box (yes you should always use it) and whether or not the hospital masks are adequate. I don't actually know how those masks are rated so I can't say yes or no to that. Just make sure that whatever protection you use is rated as NIOSH/MSHA approved for dust and mist. Also if don't forget eye protection! Safety goggles or glasses.
When I wash the fabric I use Synthropol only, no detergent.
As to the fabric.. I order it PFD from Dharma and I've used a couple of different types. I've heard of people using fabric from JoAnn's or other sources. If you do not use PFD fabric (that's Prepared For Dye and it means it's been specially processed to make sure there are no finishes that will inhibit the dyeing.) then you will need to scour your fabric before you use it. To scour the fabric (recipe and ingredients from Ann Johnston's book Color by Accident)
This recipe is for 3-4 yards (1 lb of fabric)
Wash for 15 minutes in:
Hot water over 140 degrees F (60 C)
Soda ash 1/2 tsp
Syntrapol 1/2 tsp
Rinse well and dry
Soak DRY fabric in alkali solution made with:
1 gallon Hot water
9 Tbs Soda ash
Ann's book is excellent btw and I highly recommend buying it.
Now all that is too much work for me on top of the dyeing so I just buy it already done. I have used several of the fabric's listed here. I mostly try to purchase their organic cotton but they are currently out of stock on it.
I ordered the sample pack of fabrics from Dharma listed here so I could feel each of the fabrics before I chose one.
The Mercerized cotton dyes much, much brighter. It's hard to really describe how much until you've actually seen the difference but it is really incredible.
As to thread count, it really varies with what I'm doing. They have some really nice weave fabrics, but those obviously are harder to quilt through, so I generally go with the medium weight fabrics.
Here's the links to the quick and dirty (no not that kind!) videos I made for the previous posts. I do urge you strongly to read the posts and not just watch the videos. The sound may be kind of low... let me know what you think!
You can see the video that corresponds to this post here
After you have your dye concentrate ready, you will need to mix up a gallon of soda ash solution and you are all set to start actually dyeing!
To mix the soda ash solution, measure 9 TBLS of soda ash into a gallon container. Add 1 gallon of warm (not hot) water. Mix until dissolved.
We are going to do a 12 step color wheel, so you will need 13 yards of PFD fabric. Although we are only using 12 for the wheel, you will have a small bit of dye left over and you will want to have some fabric for that.
For this lesson you will need:
13 yards of fabric cut into 1 yard pieces
3 bottles of dye concentrate (2 cups each) mixed according to the previous post.
13 plastic bags
Permanent maker you can use on fabric
1 gallon soda ash solution
1 cup measuring cup
1 TBLS measuring spoon
1 Tsp measuring spoon
1/2 Tsp measuring spoon
Plastic cups for dye solution
clean up rags or paper towels
You will want to do this in a covered area or one where you don't care if you make a mess. Wear old clothes because you will spill dye.
After you've cut your fabric into yard lengths pick one corner of the fabric and use your marker to numbers the fabric 1 to 12. For the extra piece I just used an X instead of any number. Number the plastic bags 1 through 12. I do this so I know which recipe created which color. Although you will get a lot of color variation from time to time doing this, you will at least be aware of what basic recipe to use to get a certain color.
Take the one yard lengths of fabric and put them into your plastic bags with the corresponding number. I use the 2 gallon ones for this. Add one cup of water to the bag and squish the fabric to get it wet. It won't be soaking, but just damp.
Measure the dye concentrates into one of your mixing cups along with enough water to make one cup of liquid. Each of the recipes below The amount of dye for each step is listed below.
Number 1 - 1/2 cup red
Number 2 - 3 Tbls Red and 1/4 cup yellow
Number 3 - 1 Tbls Red and 1/3 cup yellow
Number 4 - 1/2 Tsp Red and 1/2 cup yellow
Number 5 - 1/2 cup yellow
Number 6 - 1/2 cup yellow and 1 Tlbs blue
Number 7 - 2 Tbls yellow and 1/4 cup blue
Number 8 - 1/2 cup blue and 1 Tbsp yellow
Number 9 - 1/2 cup blue
Number 10 - 1/3 cup blue and 3 Tbls red
Number 11 - 1 Tbsp blue and 1/3 cup red
Number 12 1 tsp blue and 1/2 cup red
I do these one at a time rinsing my measuring spoons and mixing containers between each color.
You add the cup of dye solution to the bag with the fabric, making sure to squeeze as much air out as possible. For the leftover dye I used it on the extra piece of fabric, just dotting the fabric with the extra dyes and not mixing them together, if that makes any sense.
Squeeze the sealed bag around a bit trying to make sure all the fabric gets some dye on it. The more you agitate the fabric the more even the dye solution will be.
Let the dye sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour. At this stage it is not bonded to the fabric and would easily wash out.
After the 1 hour period add 1 cup of the soda ash solution to each dye bag and agitate it. Let the fabric sit a minimum of one hour. I usually like to let mine sit for about 4 hours. At this stage you can leave it over night if you need to do so.
After the curing process it's time to rinse out the fabric in preparation for washing it. (This is not shown on the video). I use my bathtub for this. I rinse until I have the water mostly clear, then put the fabric into the washer with a Tblsp of synthropol. This wash should be HOT water. I run it through with synthropol once and then do an additional time with no detergent. You can test the fastness of the fabric by ironing a damp piece onto another piece of white fabric to check for bleeding. Rinse until you don't have any bleeding problems.
I don't wash all 12 pieces together because I worry about muddying the colors. Instead I group them with reds, blues and other. I usually wash the pure yellow separately.
Once you've washed them, I damp dry in the dryer and then iron dry.
It's important to note that you NEVER know what color something will be until it's rinsed, washed, dried and ironed.
To get you started on the road to dyeing your own fabric, we are going to dye fabric in a twelve step color wheel gradation. The recipes here are loosely adapted from Vimala McClure's book Fabric Dyeing for Beginners. Although I don't use her method, you may want to check out her book.
First we will need to mix the dye concentrate. There are a lot of different recipes for dye concentrates. Many of them use extra chemicals such as urea or salt in the water. I don't use any of that, I just use dye powder and water. If you end up really liking the dyeing, I urge you to experiment with some various recipes to find your own style.
I cannot caution you enough about using care with the dye powders. Once they are suspended in liquid they are non toxic (but not for use around food or anything that will be ingested), but until that time the dye powders are very fine and the particles should never be breathed.
I have uploaded a video on the process here. These are meant only to give you a basic idea on how to do the process.
We will be dyeing fabric for a 12 step color wheel, using the Red (Procion Red MX-8B), Blue (Procion Blue MX-G) and Yellow (Procion Yellow MX-G8 ) dyes. For our normal concentrations for this dyeing exercise we are going to be using 2 Tablespoons of dye powder per 1 cup of water. We will be making two cups of dye solution. Please note that the Blue as noted by Dharma requires twice as much dye powder for the concentrate.
So for the three bottles of dye concentrate we are making we will need three bottles to hold dye, 6 cups of water (lukewarm), a Tablespoon for measuring, your dust mask, 4 Tablespoons of Yellow dye powder, 4 Tablespoons of Red dye powder and 8 tablespoons of the Blue dye powder.
I have been told you should always add the water to the dye powder and not the reverse. In fact many people reocmmend adding a small amount of water to the powder, making a paste and then adding the rest of the water. I have never had an issue with the dye powder not dissolving other than the Blue. That dye powder seems to require a lot more effort to make sure it's dissolved. Also, 8 TBLS per cup is about the maximum that will readily dissolve. Urea is supposed to allow you to dissolve more dye in a lower amount of water, but I have not tried it.
I carefully measure the dye powder into the bottle and then add water. Even if I do not use a dust box as shown in the video, I mix the dye concentrate in a cardboard box to minimize the dust. I cap the bottle and shake vigorously to completely mix the dye.
So again it is:
Red - 4 TBLS dye concentrate, 2 cups water
Yellow - 4 TBLS dye concentrate, 2 cups water
Blue - 8 TBLS dye concentrate, 2 cups water
I wipe everything down with damp paper towels then rinse it clean and dry it between colors to avoid contamination. The dye concentrates will last about a week, longer if they are refrigerated (again, I do not recommend having any dyestuffs close to food or drink so I wouldn't use my kitchen refrigerator.
The next installment here is going to show you how to create a Dust box for mixing the dye concentrate.
As you know making sure that you don't breathe the dye powder particles is very important. It's one reason that you wear a dust mask. I always mix mine out in the garage, but one way to add an extra bit of protection is through using a home made dust box.
I tried it the first time when I created this video.
A few things to note:
I bought a cheapie plastic container from my local housewares store. When I first used a knife to try to cut out the holes the plastic split. I was able to repair it with duct tape, but you can see the split in the video. When I used the point of some scissors to drill the hole first before cutting, I didn't have that problem.
Make sure the box is large enough to hold all the stuff needed for the mixing. You will see that in the next video.
Again, in the past, I just did the mixing in the garage but I was concerned about the dye particles floating around out there, so I am going to continue to use this inexpensive box.
I think dyeing is a little like cooking. Everyone has their own recipe for Paella, or meatloaf or a curry. They can all yield delicious food but the way they are mixed and what ingredients they use are each a little different.
I'm going to be teaching you the method I use. Other people will add other ingredients and I urge you to try anything that appeals to you. Dyeing should be fun and if you stick with it you just might find you have created a new recipe all your own.
I'm having some camera issues (I'm doing the videos using my digital camera for photos so it's not ideal but it's workable) so I won't have another video until probably Sunday. So I thought I'd go ahead with the instructions and people can view the next videos after I get them up.
I also wanted to ask if anyone would be interested in maybe doing a small swap of a 4x4 or 2x2 piece of fabric from the recipes I'll be giving here. I thought you all might find it fun to see how different the color turns out for others when you are all using the same recipes. Water, temperature, etc can make a huge difference and this would be a tangible way for people to see that.
Anyway... your supply list should look like this:
Sealable containers to hold dye concentrate, such as plastic water bottles
Measuring spoons (Plastic or non-reactive metal)
Measuring cups (Plastic or non-reactive metal)
Paper towels or rags for spill clean up
Containers to mix dye colors in (such as plastic cups)
Containers to hold fabric and dye solution (to get the mottled look these should tightly hold whatever amount of fabric you are dyeing) such as plastic bags, buckets or plastic boxes.
Plastic or rubber gloves to protect your hands from chemicals and dye solution
Old clothes to wear while dyeing
Plastic jug to hold soda ash solution such 1 gallon water jug
Various sizes of funnels (Plastic or non-reactive)
Cardboard box for mixing dye powders (I'll be filming a video on how to create a plastic dust box for an alternative)
8 oz each of red, yellow and blue dye powders
1 lb of soda ash
15 yards of pfd or mercerized white fabric
Small bottle of Synthrapol
Proper dust mask
Eye protection if you don't wear glasses
Garbage container or bag for cleanup
My plan going forward will be to post both written instructions followed by a short instructional video. I'm not guaranteeing how fast these will come out but I'll try to do them as soon as I can.
There are an array of lovely colors you can choose from most dye companies. To begin with we are going to start with what is generally called the three primaries and later see how it changes by using a different set of colors as the base.
For this set of recipes you should have on hand 8 oz of each primary. We are going to start with Yellow (MX-8G), Red (MX-8B) and Blue (MX-G). You can check the chart at Paula Burch's site for the various names according to whichever dye company you choose for your purchases.
Remember, these dye powders should never be inhaled and you should store them where they will never be opened by children or accessed by curious pets. I urge you to read the safety information contained here. Also all dyes have available Material Safety Data Sheets. I urge you to take a bit of time to read them. Dharma has theirs in .pdf format and your supplier may have them in a different format but must send you them if requested.
Always remember if you are pregnant or nursing anything like this should be discussed with your doctor.
Okay now that I've said be careful over and over... we can finally get to starting with the next post!
I store everything in large plastic tubs. I store my dye separately than the other tools in it's own tub. I store it in tubs to keep it together and easy to drag out when I want to dye. I use a separate one for the dye just to minimize any of the dye dust.
There are other places you can buy the dyes, I just happen to use Dharma. I don't work for them or receive any kind of promotion I just buy from them. If other people have companies they have found good for sources, please post them.
I have never done any kind of natural dyeing with things like onion skins, etc.. It is on my list to eventually try. The main issue with these types of dyeing (as I understand it) has to do with how fast the color ends up being. In order to make it more permanent you have to use something called a mordant which is a chemical used to make the dye 'stick' to the fiber. Various mordants (some very highly toxic) are used with various kinds of natural dyes. It's a complex subject that you may need to research. If you don't care if something fades easily, there are a number of things you can explore. Those are outside of what I'm going to talk about but maybe some other people have experience with them.
If I missed anyone's question, please let me know and I'll try to answer. Also I encourage anyone to jump in with comments or information.