Tips & Tricks A new Dye Thread

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by GentleBant, Apr 8, 2002.

  1. GentleBant Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 1999
    star 5
    Is it possible to dye tencel?
  2. MiraxTHorn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2000
    star 4
    Hi Everyone,

    I just ordered Procion dyes and all the needed stuff from Dharma and I've read everything you all have said about dyeing.

    I want to do some test swatches first as recommend, but my question is HOW? Do you have to do a bunch of math to figure out smaller portions of dye, water, etc to use? Or do you make the full batch but use it only for small pieces of fabric? It would be really helpful to know what test procedures worked for you, especially my Picnic Dress sisters, since that's what the dyes are for. :)

    Regards,
    M.
  3. Obi-Dawn Kenobi Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 4
    I am notoriously imprecise when it comes to measuring stuff out. I detest math and tend to eyeball stuff instead. :p
    For my test batches I used a large mixing bowl filled with water, added some salt and then used the dyes in increments of less than a teaspoon. Quite haphazard actually. [face_blush]
    After several attempts I found the ratio I liked between the camel and marigold colors and then just upped those amounts for the big dye bath. I'm sorry I didn't jot down specific amounts, but I know that I didn't use very much of the marigold.

    If you plan to also mix colors, I would suggest doing a test swatch of each color individually first, so you can really get a feel for what each color is separately, and then start playing around with mixing them. If you are using the camel and marigold, I can tell you that the marigold will overpower the camel if used in equal amounts.

    Did you also order the soda ash fixer? If you don't use it on your test swatches then they may not come out as dark as they should.

    Hope that helped a little. I admit my approach is not the most precise or responsible. :p
  4. MiraxTHorn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2000
    star 4
    Ok, I did some testing with the Procion dyes. I discovered a couple things:

    1. I need smaller measuring spoons. I was getting to the point of trying to accurately measure 1/32 of a teaspoon. :)

    2. It doesn't take anywhere near the time suggested to get a very dark color. My first two tests were orange before I pulled them out. After that, I counted how long my scraps stayed in and pulled them out when they reached a shade I liked.

    So this leads me to a few more questions for the dye veterans:

    Do you normally dilute your solutions down as much as necessary so the fabric stays in the dye-bath the suggested time or do you pull it out when it reaches the color/shade you're shooting for?


    Have any of you either put the soda ash in before the fabric OR put the soda ash in a separate container with clear water to set the dye? The color seems to continue to deepen when I follow the suggested order.


    Finally, exactly what does the salt do in the dye bath? Is it really necessary to use as much as suggested? I was wondering what cutting the amount in half might do?


    Any thoughts or advice you all have would be greatly appreciated!

    Regards,
    M.
  5. Jayne Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2002
    star 2
    Do you normally dilute your solutions down as much as necessary so the fabric stays in the dye-bath the suggested time or do you pull it out when it reaches the color/shade you're shooting for?

    Yes. If I'm going for a pastel, I'll dilute, but it doesn't increase time in the dyebath that much. It just makes it longer to get darker, so you have more time to recognize the fabric is the right shade and pull it before it's too dark.


    Have any of you either put the soda ash in before the fabric OR put the soda ash in a separate container with clear water to set the dye? The color seems to continue to deepen when I follow the suggested order.

    I usually dye in the washer, so I put the dye in the agitate, then when it drains I start the agitate cycle over again and put the dissolved soda water in it. It does darken some, but I like it because it means the color the fabric is when I 'pull' it will be the color the fabric is when it's dry. Wet fabric is darker, but that tiny darkening of the soda ash means that pretty much what you see is what you get.


    Finally, exactly what does the salt do in the dye bath? Is it really necessary to use as much as suggested? I was wondering what cutting the amount in half might do?

    I don't know the science behind why, but the salt makes the water go into the little holes between the fibers in the fabric so the dye gets everywhere and prevents spotting. I don't think you can half it, though, I think it's all or nothing. You could go with less salt with less water, but you'd have to be dying smaller pieces.
  6. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Hi Mirax,

    I'm sorry I never saw your original post in October (crunch month).

    I'm far from an expert, but here is what I've done in the past and what I've learned from my trusty dye book "Hands On Dyeing" by Betsy Blumenthal and Kathryn Kreider.

    Ok, I did some testing with the Procion dyes. I discovered a couple things:

    1. I need smaller measuring spoons. I was getting to the point of trying to accurately measure 1/32 of a teaspoon.


    When working with dying lighter colors - like picnic colored stuff - it's really better to start with a mixed solution of dye, and measure that out with a syringe as you do your tests. (You can get syringes at the drug store... I used ones marked in fractions of a ml that are used for dispensing baby medicine.) You just can't measure out accurate small portions of powder dye when you need less than 1/32 of a tespooon. I had to use stock solutions when testing and finally dying my picnic cape as well as doing tests on my silk fabric.

    I made enough stock solution so that when I found the ratio I liked, I could use the same stock solution in a larger amount with my final fabric. Yes, some math is involved... it's just multiplication and maybe a little division. If you have questions about calculating the ratios I can elaborate in another post.

    A stock solution should be stored in a sealed container in a cool dark place (refrigerator). The Procion dyes can be stored for 2 months, Acid dye solutions for 6 months without noticable loss of strength... but the longer the dyes are stored in solution they do lose strength.

    Here are the guidelines from my book.

    DYE RECIPE
    Fiber-Reactive Dye

    MIXING THE STOCK SOLUTION: Use 1 tsp of dye per 100 ml water. (first use a small amount of the water to make a paste with the powder dye - once smooth gradually add the remainder of your water to make the solution & stir.)

    TOTAL AMOUNT OF DYE PER POT
    AMOUNT OF FIBER (in grams) | AMOUNT OF DYE (in ml)
    1) 100 grams | Dark 200, Med 50, light 10, pale 2

    2) 50 grams | Dark 100, Med 25, light 5, pale 1

    3) 10 grams | Dark 20, Med 5, light 1, pale 0.2

    AMOUNT OF ASSISTANTS PER POT
    AMT FIBER | SALT (tsp) | SODA ASH (tsp) | WATER (L)
    1) 100 grams | 10 tsp | 4 tsp | 3 liters
    2) 50 grams | 5 tsp | 2 tsp | 1.5 liters
    3) 10 grams | 1 tsp | 1/2 tsp | 300 ml


    Now, not to mess you up at all... but according to my book if you are using procion dyes to dye silk you may use VINEGAR rather than soda ash as your fixer. Soda Ash will work, but vinegar is supposed to be preferred for protein fibers.

    Just in case you want to experiment with vinegar, here are the amounts you'd need

    AMOUNT OF FIBER | VINEGAR
    1) 100 grams | 100 ml
    2) 50 grams | 50 ml
    3) 10 grams | 10 ml

    2. It doesn't take anywhere near the time suggested to get a very dark color. My first two tests were orange before I pulled them out. After that, I counted how long my scraps stayed in and pulled them out when they reached a shade I liked.

    So this leads me to a few more questions for the dye veterans:

    Do you normally dilute your solutions down as much as necessary so the fabric stays in the dye-bath the suggested time or do you pull it out when it reaches the color/shade you're shooting for?


    Honestly, I do a combination of both. Time and strength both effect the darkness of a color. My dye book says you should strictly use dilution and leave your fabric in for 45-60 minutes... but that was just way too long for my picnic stuff. Just make sure you keep track of your dilutions and the time on a chart. I usually staple my scraps next to my dilutions and times on my chart so I can refer back to them.

    In the end, once you think you've nailed the color on a small scrap you should test on a bigger fiber scrap that you have weighed and then measured all the ingredients out for accordingly. If THAT turns out... then you can multiply upward to repli
  7. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Hi Mirax - I read your first post and have a comment (if not too late). I know everyone takes a different approach and no one way is right.

    I want to do some test swatches first as recommend, but my question is HOW? Do you have to do a bunch of math to figure out smaller portions of dye, water, etc to use? Or do you make the full batch but use it only for small pieces of fabric? It would be really helpful to know what test procedures worked for you, especially my Picnic Dress sisters, since that's what the dyes are for.

    OK, don't make a big full batch of dye and just put a small scrap of fabric in it. Your ratio of dye will be super high compared to the amount of fabric you have. It will always turn out dark. That's because you have a huge excess of dye and it's all going onto one little piece of scrap. Make sense?

    In my book in bold it says "The amount of each of the components of any dyebath is figured in relation to the weight of the fiber in that dyebath" and "The amount of dye to be applied to the fiber must be measured. The amount of dye required depends on the weight of the fiber to be dyed and the darkenss of the desired color". So, the amount of fabric compared to dyebath ingredients does matter. Maybe this is why all your tests are turning out dark?

    So if you take the time to do a tiny bit of math you will be happy. You might need a postage scale to weigh your small amounts of test fabric though.

    You can use the base charts I gave above and just multiply or divide to figure out how much water, salt, dye etc you need.

    -Kay Dee
  8. MiraxTHorn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2000
    star 4
    Wow, Kaydee! Thank you so much! And, Jayne, too! This is incredibly helpful! I'm so glad you posted today because Testing Round #2 starts tonight.

    I'll head to the store and get a dropper and a scale and some vinegar as you suggested. The method of making a solution up at full strength and going from there makes total sense. I had also read that Procion dyes tend to make silks more stiff. I noticed that it was the soda ash step that seemed to really cause that. Maybe vinegar will cause less stiffness. It's definitely worth a try!

    I may have some more questions for you depending on how things go. Thanks again!

    Regards,
    M.

  9. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    I'm glad I was able to help Mirax :) When I started it all was confusing to me too. And believe me, I still get frustrated. Just keep in mind when doing the 'math' everything is constant. If you increase (or decrease) your weight of fabric by some multiple of X you have to multiply (or divide) all the other 'ingredients' of your bath by the same number. So, lets say you are testing only 5 grams of fabric. That's 10 grams divided by 2. So, just divide all your other ingredients (Salt, water, soda ash/vinegar, dye) by 2 if you follow the chart I gave in the above post.

    The one main 'variable' when doing your tests is how much dye you use. Obviously the chart above gives you rough examples of how much of your stock solution to use for Dark, Medium, or pale results... but you have to play with these amounts yourself, as well as the amount of colors to mix together.

    One thing I forgot to mention - I keep my stock solutions pure (the different dyes are not mixed together in the stock solutions). Then in one test vat (which is just a small plastic cup) I might add .1 ml aztec gold and .1 ml of olive to the mix (get several baby droppers - one for each stock solution). Another cup might have .5 ml aztex gold and .2 ml of olive. Another might have 1 ml of aztec and .5 ml olive. I process them all for the same time and see what I get... then make adjustments from there on my next round. All the cups had the same amount of water, fabric, salt, and fixer in them.

    Ofcourse the other variable can be 'time'. If on my first round it looks like 45 minutes to an hour is just way too long I start doing my tests over repeating my dye mixtures I tested in the first round, but reduce the time on each to see what I get. (Picnic stuff seemed only to need a few minutes of leveling and fixing)

    I think I also forgot to mention that the baby medicine syringes come in two sizes. Get both the tiny one that is only 1 ml divided into fractions of a ml, and the bigger one that holds up to 10 ml. I had to ask for the small one at the prescription counter and they were free. The bigger size is sold with the baby medicines.

    Finally, make sure you rinse your test fabric really really well at the end of the process. Not just one minute in the sink, but maybe a good 10 to 15 minutes to be safe. That was what messed me up with my rayon velvet final results when I moved from small tests to the huge vat. I thought I had rinsed my small tests well in the sink, but when you have yards and yards of fabric it takes a lot longer to rinse. In the process of all that rinsing, my velvet really let go of the red pigments that were in my dye and the velvet turned out much bluer than my tiny sample tests ever did.

    I think you have inspired me to jump in and dye the silk I bought for my picnic upgrade. :) I started my tests last year - but then had to put it aside to make my Halloween Costume and my Husband's Halloween costume. (It didn't help that the fabric I needed was backordered for a month).

    *edit* One more reminder - make sure you have washed your silk first. I use synthrapol from Dharma, but I think a mild detergent can substitute. Supposedly silk has 'gum' in it that needs to be washed out or you can end up with splotchy dye results. Also, make sure your fabric is wet when you put it into the dye bath. This also helps the color take evenly. Maybe this stuff is a repeat, I can't remember what has been mentioned earlier in this thread :)

    Good Luck!

    - Kay Dee
  10. MiraxTHorn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2000
    star 4
    kay-dee Thank you SO SO much for your thoroughness! It has been a huge help already!

    I made my dye stocks and was able to get some initial tests done successfully. I haven't got the correct color yet, though. I sent my hubby out to the pharmacy for the small droppers but no one had them, so I couldn't cut one of the colors down enough. I'm hoping to find that today. But if that doesn't get the shade I'm looking for, I may have to add a 3rd color. I'm really hoping that won't be the case!

    I'm amazed by how easy your suggested process is and how much more diluted the solutions are. I left my scaps in for 15 minutes leveling and 15 minutes fixing with no more burnt orange colors. :) There's a lot less waste of salt and big batches to dump down the sink this way, too! And, vinegar is a lot easier to use since it doesn't have to be dissolved!

    Another question for you, though: Did you use the curtain for your cape? Did the acid dyes take on that without discoloring the flowers too badly? With Procion dyes, so far the only thing that's happened is the flowers darkening. The netting part doesn't hold the dye.

    Thanks again!
    M.

  11. PadawansGuide Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2002
    star 3
    Mirax - I used a mix of tan and golden yellow RIT on my Walmart netting shawl and the netting took the dye fine - the roses are just a hair darker but they didn't really take the dye much at all.

    I'm far less precise than Kay_dee though - I just poured some tan in the washer, than mixed some golden yellow in until my swatch showed the color I wanted - then I tossed my shawl in. I was happy with my result anyway.

    Here are my test swatches:

    http://www.padawansguide.com/mypicnic/swatches.jpg


    I guess I'm just a more fly by the seat of my pants dyer. :)
  12. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Hi Mirax - Hooray! I'm glad things are working out so far! Have you tried a medical supply store or larger pharmacy for the 1ml baby syringe? If you are not in a huge hurry I could always pick up a few and mail them out to you so you'd have them by next weekend. Just let me know via PM.

    Another question for you, though: Did you use the curtain for your cape? Did the acid dyes take on that without discoloring the flowers too badly? With Procion dyes, so far the only thing that's happened is the flowers darkening. The netting part doesn't hold the dye.

    Back when I did my original picnic netting I used Acid Dyes. I think that netting was nylon, but I'm not sure. I also think the flowers were rayon or a polyester blend, so they resisted the acid dye and my netting was in the dye bath for a few minutes.

    The Drape Panel I got from Walmart said it was Polyester. Procion dyes aren't supposed to be able to dye that :( I don't even think that Acid Dyes are supposed to work on Polyester - but I will give a piece a test run today and see what happens.

    According to what I've read, "union dyes" (household dyes) work on many different fibers including synthetics like Polyester. I think Rit falls into that catgory. Supposedly union dyes are lots of different dye types mixed together - your fabric will absorb the dye it likes and the rest that don't apply to your fiber type just wash away.

    I'll post my findings on Acid Dye reactivity with the Walmart Panel either today or tomorrow.

    I have several back-up plans if my Acid Dye doesn't make a dent on my drape panel

    1) I have silk organza with flowers. I know that will take up the dye, but organza is not what was used on the real picnic dress.

    2) I may use dye remover on my original cape and re-dye it with my new formula.

    3) Do my best with rit dye or a disperse dye to dye the Walmart Drape Panel a close color to my silk fabric (a headache seems like it would be involved - lol!)

    - Kay Dee
  13. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Just an update - Acid Dyes will not work on the embroidered window panels from Walmart (polyester fiber). It looks like Rit or a Disperse Dye will have to be used. I found this company that sells Disperse Dyes

    http://www.aljodye.com/main.html

    Here is a color chart
    http://www.aljodye.com/colorchart_polyester_frames.html

    I'm going to think about calling them monday - the Golden Brown and Dark Brown look like possiblities for me. Maybe even the Golden Yellow?

    - Kay Dee
  14. MiraxTHorn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2000
    star 4
    Bummer about the Walmart panel! I'm not thrilled about testing all over again with different dyes. I was really hoping to dump everything into one dye bath at once. The Golden Brown looks like a good possibility. , though.

    I think I'm getting close to isolating the correct dye ratio for my silk. I'm trying to decide if I'm being too picky or if the shade of my samples is close enough to my corset fabric. I like one shade in natural light and another in artificial. And other times I think I've got the wrong base colors altogether. I've got to make a decision! :)

    Thank you for the offer of getting droppers, kay-dee, but I think I'm doing ok without. I tried some tests counting drops of one color instead and those amounts were too small to be noticed anyway. For the record, there are approximately 8 drops in .5ml of liquid. :)

    Regards,
    M.
  15. JainaMSolo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2001
    star 3
    Hey kay dee, when you washed your silk, how did you dry it? I'm scared to use the dryer, and can't really figure out how I'm going to air-dry yards and yards of silk.

    Caitlin
  16. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Mirax - I totally agree. I was quite miffed that I cant' just put all my fabric in one vat to dye it (although I was mentally prepared for that possibility). Coming up with dye recipies when you are trying to match something is exhausting as far as patience goes. But the reality is we have to use another dye and do dye tests all over again for the poly drape panel :(

    Caitlin- I've actually just gotten back to re-testing my dyes for the picnic dress fabric. It had been at least 6 months since I did my tests so I wanted to make sure my recipe would hold up to a larger test samples now that I finally have my yardage :) I still have some playing to do (getting nit picky color and timing).

    I have a huge clothes drying rack that looks like this (I love it!) and I planned to at least let the 10mm chiffon dry on that. I think my 14 mm crepe de chine will hold up OK to getting tossed around in the dryer for a few minutes to get the bulk of the water out... then I'll hang it over the shower or something. Maybe even go out and get a second drying rack now that you mention it ;)

    I'll post my real results probably some time next week if all goes according to plan and schedule!

    - Kay Dee
  17. FiorCara Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 1
    When a fabric lists its weight in mm or oz, is that per square yard or what? I'm trying to figure out how much dye I need and I'm ordering it at the same time as the fabrics... so I can't just weigh the stuff myself.
  18. MiraxTHorn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2000
    star 4
    Hi FiorCara,

    When a fabric lists its "mm", it's talking about the density of the weave and threads, not the weight of a yard. Lower mm numbers would be for sheer, light fabrics such as chiffon while higher numbers are fabrics that are less sheer or light. For example, I'm currently working with a 16mm georgette, much more dense than a chiffon. Dharma's catalog says "mumme" is the weight of the silk, but that's kind of confusing because it's not a number that helps figuring dye amounts. It's more to compare one fabric to another.

    You'd need to figure weight in grams or ounces. If you need to order both dye and fabric at once, you might call the company and ask what 1 yard of a given fabric weighs so you can calculate it yourself. They might even be willing to weigh your total yardage for you if you explain why. Don't forget to order more dye than you'll need for color testing. (My favorite thing at the moment!)

    Hope that helps!
    Regards,
    M.
  19. Jayne Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2002
    star 2
    I know for a fact that Dharma is more than happy to give you the weight of a yard of any of their fabrics, I've called and asked.

    For info:

    Momme [mommie] The unit of weight (Japanese) of a degummed piece of silk 25 yards long and 1.5 inches wide (1 momme = 3.75 g).
  20. FiorCara Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 1
    Thanks! ^_^

    I called and asked, the girl on the phone gave me these weights:

    Silk Chiffon 10mm 54"
    2oz/yard

    Silk Rayon Velvet 45"
    9oz/yard

    Silk Dupion 19mm 45"
    2.75oz/yard

    Now I just have to figure out which dyes to use... I'm looking at a dark red color (kind of a garnet/crimson/burgundy shade) and might do a gradient from black creeping up if possible....
  21. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Just an update on the dye process...

    JainaMSolo - I was able to put my 14mm crepe and 10 mm chiffon in the dryer to dry it. I put it on the delicate cycle and kept checking on it every 5-10 minutes so I could pull it out as it just felt dry. The silk held up fine. The crepe is less shiny - but that is fine with me because I didn't like the sheen it had. (If a shiny texture is important to someone I would probably not put silk in the dryer).

    Unfortunately my fabric turned out darker and brighter than my tests (should have trusted my eyes when it looked like it was getting dark pretty quick!) I rerinsed my chiffon and more color came out... but it's still way too intense.

    [image=http://kay-dee.net/costumes/picnicpadme/dye_firstrun.jpg] [image=http://kay-dee.net/costumes/picnicpadme/padme_promo1.jpg]

    By all means I'm not proud of this first result (The color looks more like Muppet Jancie skin!), but I'm pretty sure I can fix it one way or another. A few more rinsings, rit color remover, and a second round in the dye bath with a bit of olive to drab it down might do the trick.

    - kay dee
  22. Obi-Dawn Kenobi Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 4
    (Janice skin is cool though. :p )

    It looks like you are totally on the right path kay_dee. I bet it turns out fine!
  23. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    I was gonna post this in the Imperial Officer's thread, but I guess it could go here as well.

    I'll be ordering the belt for my uniform along with one for my friend. And before I go ahead and send my order in, I'm wondering about how much dye it would take to dye two belts. Would one 4 oz. bottle be enough or would I need more? I'm going to order them from Tandy Leather and I believe the belts will be made out of cowhide.
  24. MiraxTHorn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2000
    star 4
    Sorry to hear things went awry, kay-dee! The shade of gold looks great, though! Good luck fixing it!

    Regards,
    M.
  25. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Re: Dye for Belt - - Honestly, I'd call Tandy Leather and ask them how much you'd need. I called a store in California and the sales person was able to tell me exactly what supplies I'd need and how much. They can process your order over the phone and then send it out from their store. Just click on store locations to find one close to you and use the toll free number. (I also think the orders get processed a lot faster that way.)

    I've only painted a leather Leia belt - and for that I used about 1 1/2 bottles of the 1.5 oz leather paint.

    - Kay Dee

    P.S. - I know Muppet Janice is cool - but it wasn't what I had in mind for Picnic Padme. LOL! I think my color is pretty close when compared to the studio photos of the costume... so it should be in salvageable range. I'd love to fix it today, but I have to rush off to Fresno to see my Grandpa. Kidney and heart failure - the doctors don't think it's looking good and advise the family to come see him ASAP :(