I hand dye a lot of fabric and clothing for fivestiches and my fabric collage work. Because it’s such an involved process taking almost a full day, I usually wait to get a big lot of fabric and dye them together. Here’s a peek into the step-by-step process I use:
1. This is my mock studio/dye area. I didn’t mind working outside on this particular day since it was feeling like a cool fall morning — at least the first couple hours.I purchase my dyes from Dharma Trading Co.
2. I use a Fiber Reactive Procion Dye because it allows me to create awesome new custom colors, and I can be as creative as I like.
3. The Soda Ash pre-soak raises the pH level of the garment or fabric.
4. Use hot water, but not boiling.
5. I use a large empty container.
6. Soda ash (1 cup per gallon of water).
7. Mix Soda Ash in hot water until it dissolves. Raising the pH level of the solution that the fabric or garment is soaked in raises the level of negative hydrogen ions in the dyeing environment. The chemical bonding process uses these ions in the reaction. Pre-soaking in Soda Ash Fixer solution is what allows the fiber reactive dyes to work at room temperature.
8. Add fabrics and soak for at least 10 minutes. As you can see, some of the fabrics and garments are not solid white. I re-dye items to bring them to life again! My kids get stains on clothing or I simply get bored of my bedding colors. I will re-dye for a new look!
9. In the meantime, mix the dyes. I use these squeeze bottles for mixing and storing dyes.
10. Measuring cups
11. Add 1 cup of hot water.
12. This is Urea. It’s a “moisture-drawing” agent that keeps the fabric damper longer during the curing or fixing process, allowing for deeper, brighter colors. Fiber reactive dyes won’t “fix” if they dry out.
13. Mix 1TBSP of Urea
14. Mix 2 TSP of dye into the hot water squeeze bottle. I usually let this sit for 20 minutes so the dye dissipates.
15. Squeeze the Soda Ash water out of the fabric and start to add the dye.
16. I hardly ever tie-dye fabric, unless I’m trying to achieve a certain look or effect. I simply pour the dye in areas on the fabric and use my hands to manipulate the dye by squeezing the fabric. If I think the fabric needs more dye or less contrast then I add more and squeeze!
17. I save every drop of unused dye. I will dye again and use the remnants that are left, but add new dye to form a different shade or color.
18. I place the fabric in plastic bags to cure overnight.
19. The next day, I rinse the fabrics with cold water and squeeze out as much dye as possible.
20. Then they go into the washing machine. I use the hottest setting to get all the excess dye out of fabric.
21. Hang in the sun to dry. Then I usually wash and dry in the dryer before creating with them.
This fitted bottom sheet was once white, and the pillowcases were dyed in the past a cerulean blue. I decided they were looking faded from hanging my sheets to dry outside on the line and re-dyed them. I love the new look!