Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dip Dyeing Details

Dip Dyed Fat Quarters

Yes, I know I was supposed to stick with stamping, but I wanted to try out a different dyeing technique I'd read about. That, and I still owed fabric to Jennifer @inquiringquilter for winning the April link up for #BraveQuilter. Let me give you a quick run down on how this process is different, and the recipe is at the end.

My Standard Process Is More Involved

Normally, I presoak my cotton fabrics in a soda ash solution before dyeing with Procion MX dyes. The soda ash helps open up the fabric, and be receptive to the dye. Procion MX dyes form a covalent or chemical bond to fabric, which makes them very colorfast, but without soda ash, the dye washes out with hot water. (Remember that the next time you tie dye t-shirts. Soda ash makes it stick!) But there are times I want to dye a piece of dry fabric right now, and don't have the time to go through soaking and air drying.

Note: The soda ash can also be added to the dye mixture if you are vat dyeing. Vat dyeing would be processing the fabric with larger amounts of water, salt, etc., and it's a process I don't enjoy as much. There are more specific amounts for each chemical, and in general, you need to use more dye. I'm both a free spirit and frugal.

How Dip Dyeing Is Different

Dip dyeing can be done with a mixed alkali mixture, uses a smaller amount of dye, and is less messy than tie dye. Instead of soaking in soda ash, a tiny bit of mixed alkali is added directly to each bowl. This exhausts the dye, or makes it unusable after 4 hours so I mix just a small amount at a time. 

Smaller amounts of fabric such as a fat quarter or so, 
are ideal for this process. Think large scraps, too!

It's interesting to see a side by side comparison to the finished fabric above, and the fabric after the dye has been added. The dye appears dark below, but it has actually been diluted with quite a bit of water to produce a paler color as you see above.

Another Batch In Process

These dyes appear dark also, but they have been made to produce about a medium saturation.

You might be thinking they've turned out pretty wild for your taste, but I've turned them into a soft and pretty summer quilt already. Be sure to visit back next week when I guest blog for Blossom Heart Quilts Sew Cute Tuesday, and I'll show you how I blend hand dyed and commercial fabrics.

Nitty Gritty Details

If you want to give this method a try, I'll give you an easy recipe to start. This will dye up to 4 fat quarters of cotton fabric. You'll need:

Cotton fat quarters prepared by washing in hot water with Dawn blue dishwashing liquid. *About 1 teaspoon of Dawn per yard. Hand or machine wash. Line dry.

1-2oz jar of Procion MX dye for each color
1 T. soda ash
3 T. baking soda
A dust mask
Rubber or latex gloves
A plastic spoon
A teaspoon measuring spoon which will not be used with food again (You might also measure the same area onto a disposable spoon.)
A recycled container with a wide mouth such as a small margarine tub

Put on your mask and gloves. *Procion MX dyes contain small particles that become easily airborne, and you do not want to inhale them. Once mixed with water, you may remove the mask.

Start by combining the soda ash and baking soda to make the alkali mixture. You'll only need 1 tsp. for this project, and set the rest aside in a sealed container or plastic bag.

Into your bowl measure 1 level teaspoon of dye into a few tablespoons of warm water--not hot, and stir until it's dissolved. Add 1/2 cup of warm water. Add 1 tsp. of the alkali mixture, and stir well.

Iron your fabric well, and fold into a small 'packet' as I have above. The easiest way to start is by making accordion folds into a long strip, then into either squares or triangles. You may secure the shape with rubber bands, clothespins, string, etc., or you might find it holds its shape when wet.

Experiment with dipping corners, edges, or combinations into the dye. Redipping will strengthen the color. Mixing a red over a yellow will give you an orange so this is a fun way to play with color mixing with kids. Have fun, and yes, this process will also work using Dad's hankies or t-shirts,but wash with Dawn first!

After each dip, squeeze the excess dye off the piece with your fingers. When each piece is complete, wrap it in a piece of plastic or bag, and set out of the way. The bag should be kept at 70 degrees F or higher for the Procion MX dyes to work. 

Waiting Is the Hardest

For the most intense colors, wait 24 hours before rinsing. I will admit I get anxious, and 10-12 gives pretty good results.


Start by rinsing each piece individually under cold water, and open up for the big reveal. There will be oohing and aahing here. You want to avoid color transfer, but the dye should be completely used up by this time. To conserve water, I use a disposable container filled with cold water to swish and swirl all similar colors together. You may find you have little dye rinse off. Gradually, after a few minutes, add warmer water. Continue to swish and swirl. Finally wash in very hot water and a 1/4 tsp or so of Dawn blue dishwashing liquid, and hand wash well. Continue or repeat until you see no more dye run off. Rinse cold. Line dry. Enjoy!

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go catch up on our mowing.


Cut&Alter said...

These look great Julie - and thanks for such detailed instructions at the bottom. I haven't done anything with Procion dyes yet but it is on my list!!

Jayne said...

I love your dip-dyed fabrics! I really like the ones that are tone on tone...gorgeous!

Jennifer said...

Wonderful hand dyed fabrics and a great tutorial. I'm like Jayne and love the tone on tone ones the best. GREAT job!

Christine Slaughter said...

Beautiful hand dyed fabrics! I really appreciate that you explain how the process works and why to follow specific instructions. I'm not sure that I'll get brave enough to dye my own fabric, but this sure tempts me to try!

Susan said...

You've made some beautiful hand dyed fabrics, and thanks for explaining your process. I'll bookmark this page for future reference! Thanks again for linking up at Midweek Makers

Ruth said...

Very cool. I've really enjoyed your adventures in fabric painting and dyeing!

Kate said...

Beautiful fabrics. Looking forward to seeing your finished quilt using them.

Myra @ Busy Hands Quilts said...

I'll just say - WOW! They look amazing!

evaj said...

Thanks for linking to Show and Tell Monday and your inspiration there today!Hug Bambi

Shannon said...

I love the patterns in your dip-dyed fabric! So fun!

Lena Pugacheva said...

You really make me itch to do some dyeing or printing, but I must finish my current projects first, I have tried similar patterns with silk-painting dyes and loved the results (the process with silk paints is simpler and cleaner because they are already liquid, but I think it must be more expensive, I just happened to have those paints because I had done silk painting before). I used some of the resulting pieces for FMQ practice and got pretty little mini quilts.

em's scrapbag said...

Great results! Thanks for sharing the process.

claudia said...

I want to try dying some fabrics, but it seems so daunting. Call me chicken if you must. I love what you have done!

Rebecca said...

Oh wow... I cam over here from a note on quilt fabrications. And now have you bookmarked. I have played with pickle jar dying before and love the textures and shading from that and now I am heading down stairs to get some fabric ready to try this...
Have a couple of questions.
1: why dawn blue? I had read somewhere to use the clear but I have to say the blue is easier to find.
2: I already have some fabric already prepped with a soda ash soak... can I use that or and without the sod ash and baking soda mixed into the dye? Dose that prep of the dye make for a different color absortant process and timing?

Julie said...

You are so welcome. I think easy projects are just a fun way to get started, and try things out.

Julie said...

Thank you, Jayne. I don't get too particular with colors when I'm just experimenting, and usually pull whatever is left over from the last session. I've had several happy surprises that way.

Julie said...

Kate, the finished quilt will be shown next Tuesday when I am a guest blogger for Blossom Heart Quilts link up. I'm getting excited to share it now.

Julie said...

Lena, the dyes like Tinfix are quite a bit more expensive than Procion MX dyes. Anytime you buy the dye already as a liquid, too, you incur more cost in the product and the weight of shipping. Dyes are so versatile, too, as you can paint, stamp, etc. with them just by thickening them with sodium alginate or another chemical like it. I think there is a learning curve when you first start, but it soon makes more sense as you experiment.

Julie said...

Claudia, I, too, was a chicken for many years. A lot of my supplies sat there until I finally got my courage up to play with them. I just had to lower my expectations of what I expected to create. Some things just wow me because they're so spectacular, but I've also been underwhelmed with my results. I look at it all as an experiment, and the process is the prize.

Julie said...

Rebecca, Dawn Blue is the one I understood to be closest to the properties of the chemical Synthrapol. There are original, concentrated, clear, etc. I think the original 'experiments' dyers had done were done with the Blue because it came on the market first.

2. Yes! Eliminate the addition of the baking soda and soda ash. Also, yes, the amount of dye will vary the intensity or saturation of color outcome, but the process and timing should remain the same. You don't HAVE to rinse the fabric at 4, 6, or 24 hours if they say that's the time you should let it process. Normally, that is the minimum, and going over that by even a few days makes no difference if the dye is exhausted. Once it's chemically done, it's not going to keep getting darker. I would just warn against allowing fabric to remain wet and folded to avoid mildewing or mold growing--and it very well might if kept bagged and warm.

Did this help?

Rebecca said...

Thanks.... All I need to do now is start folding and pinching! Going to use these as fat quaters for birthday tokens