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.

-Colleen

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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.

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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 quantity).

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 yourself.

Judy

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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)

First:

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.

NOW

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



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.

TO DO A GRADATION OF ONE COLOR.

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.

VARIATION:

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.

CHEMISTRY?

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.

Judy

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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.

ADDITIONAL INFO I FORGOT TO ADD IN THE FIRST NOTE:

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.

OTHER STUFF:

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 cup.

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!

Judy

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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 dyeing. ************************************************************************ > 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 [email protected] **********************************************************************

**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).

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***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 return.)

Sharon

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> 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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....

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*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 accordingly.

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 pack...)

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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.

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*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 information.

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*** 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.

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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.

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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 shades.

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!

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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!)
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