Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dyeing Fabric

One week until Xmas! Are you ready? I thought this week I'd give a peek into some background work I occasionally do- dyeing fabric. One of my biggest obstacles while sewing always seems to be getting the proper fabrics, or the proper color fabric that I am looking for. I especially have trouble with greens and yellows, don't ask me why. But now I've got the know-how, space and equipment to dye my own super yellow!

Before and after if you couldn't take the suspense! 
I dyed 100% cotton white sweatshirt fleece. 

Many will say that dyeing fabric is like cooking, you follow a recipe. Like cooking experimenting and personal preference play a big role. The following was my recipe.
 It helps to have certain equipment handy if you plan to do some fabric dyeing. First a container to work in. I use this large plastic container, I put in the bathtub in case something leaks, it's close to a water source and drain. 
Other tools; measuring cups and spoons, a stirring tool, mixing jar, rubber gloves, goggles, though I would prefer a Walter White style hazmat suit and mask.

Also bucket and plenty of non-iodized salt. 

It is also incredibly useful to have a washing machine! 
I use the washing machine to pretreat and wash excess dye out of fabric. To pretreat I wash the fabric in hot water using Synthrapol. 

Dye supplies, I like to use Prochemical (east coast) or Dharma Trading  (west coast) products, both which have a lot of great info and instructions on their sites. Since I am dyeing cotton fabric I am using procion dye called sun yellow. I also used synthrapol ( a detergent) and soda ash (dye activator) and salt. 

I start by mixing some warm water and a few tablespoons of dye in my little jar, it is good to fully dissolve the dye powder.

 Then I add the dye to my container filled with a few gallons of hot water and a few cups of table salt.

My assistant checks on my progress.

I take my pretreated fabric and add it to the dye bath. 

I completely submerge the fabric.

Time to add the soda ash, the dye activator. I used about 1/2 cup of soda ash, and dissolve it in hot water.

I add the dissolved soda ash into the dye bath without pouring it directly onto the fabric. As you can see the dye bath turns a different color when the activator is added. Now the important part, agitating the dye bath. If you want fabric that is solid, even color you need to stir the fabric and agitate the dye bath about every 10-15 minutes for an hour. 
After all the agitating it is time to rinse the fabric. It's hard to rinse the fabric fully this way, so I put the fabric back into the washer with more Synthrapol. 

After washing and drying, the finished fabric! 

Next week, Xmas! After that I will show what I made with this super yellow hand dyed fabric.