Fabric Dyeing

Do you dye fabric? If so, what is your favorite method, products, etc.

I started out fabric dyeing about 9-10 years ago using fiber reactive dyes and the gradation dyeing with several buckets of dyes of the same color in gradations of saturation. Fun to do, took lots of time and lots of stirring of the dye baths. But, I wanted more than one color to come from a dyeing session. So I started the direct dyeing method by soaking my fabric in the soda ash, wringing it out and squirting different colors of dye directly onto the fabric. It was much more satisfying to me, but you have to wait several hours for the dyes to react with the fibers before you can wash them out, dry them and use them.

Then my kids wanted to get in on the fun. I premixed the dyes as well as the soda ash soak to keep the kids away from the toxic chemicals. They were allowed to squirt the dyes onto their fabric pieces, or clothing pieces as the case may be. We had many fun days of dyeing fabric and clothing and many interesting results!

One day I was watching a quilting show - America Quilts Creatively - where a representative from Rit Dyes was overdyeing commercial printed fabrics and setting the dye in the microwave! That sparked my curiosity and I had to try Rit Dyes. I used PFD fabric as well as bleached muslin instead of commercial prints and squirted the dyes directly onto the fabric. I wrapped them up in plastic wrap and microwaved them for 2 minutes on high. I absolutely loved the results! Bright, vivid colors with a suede look. Some of those fabrics are in my quilt top "Flight at Sunrise". That top also has some hand-dyed fabrics made from Procion MX dyes.

I have been warned that the dyes may fade out of the Rit Dyed fabric, but I haven't found that to be true. Perhaps the microwaving heat sets the dye enough to prevent that.

I still used both brands of dyes and use whichever suits my fancy at the time. My last dyeing session used Rit Dyes. I'm almost out of Procion dyes, so I need to restock my supply. My next dyeing session will also use the Rit Dyes since my girls want to get in on the fun. It's a bit less complicated to use and you get faster results - an important consideration for kids (and Mom's) who think they need instant gratification!

One of these days I'm determined to try Sunprinting. That's a project best to wait for warm weather, though!



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