Tips & Tricks Fabric dyeing

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by rogue_09, Sep 29, 2003.

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  1. rogue_09 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2003
    star 4
    What is the easiest way to dye fabric? I'm making my Jedi outfit and I need to dye the fabric a darker color. I am completely new at any fabric work so I have no idea how to do it.

    Many thanks in advance.
  2. Raef_Wolfe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2003
    star 4
    What kind of fabric is it? How much do you have? What color is it already?
  3. rogue_09 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2003
    star 4
    I don't have the fabric yet, but I will be getting a cotton fabric that is a very light cream/beige, almost white and I need it to be a darker coffee brown. As for how much, I'm not sure yet, I haven't determined that. Enough for a couple tunics and pants at least, if not everything.
  4. Sister_Sola Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2002
    star 4
    Yay a thread about fabric dyeing!!!

    I don't have any tips to post yet but I will in a couple of weeks after I've done my first dyeing project.

    I've asked Obi-Dawn Kenobi and Ferdalump for advice however, which they may end up posting in here. kay_dee mentions dyeing in the Picnic Dress thread too.
  5. FERDALUMP Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2002
    star 3
    Cotton is the easiest fabric to dye. It takes dye very well and very quickly. I would recommend Rit dye (which you can find in the grocery store near the laundry supplies--or at Joann's, Wal-mart, etc) It is around $1.50 for powder, and $3.00 for liquid concentrate. It comes in all sorts of colors including a few brown shades. You can dye it in the washing machine (no it won't stain) Just make sure you thoroughly dissolve the powder if that is the kind you use. Make sure the dye is mixed in the water well before you add the fabric to make sure the color is evenly distributed. For darker shades the stove top method is recommended. Again, dissolve the dye well, or use the liquid dye--Move the fabric constantly and make sure you leave it in the dye bath long enough to take the dye strong enough.
    The box and their website can answer any questions and give you step by step instructions.

    For brown shades you can also experiment with tea and/or coffee. Make a pot of strong tea or cofee--Dilute with hot water and put the fabric in it-Just like with regular dyes.

    My best advice is Test first. It just takes a minute, and will save you from making a mistake and wasting money.

    I dye fabrics all the time and would be happy to help you out further should anyone need it.

    Ferd :)
  6. rogue_09 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2003
    star 4
    Thank you very much. I think I'll try that Rid dye. I'll post my results.
  7. Q99213 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2001
    star 4
    I used RIT liquid on my white karate gi and it came out great. I just used my kitchen sink and kept it moving for about half an hour.

    Hint: Turn on the stereo before beginning the Dye process ;)
  8. Jayne Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2002
    star 2
    I've successfully dyed many things, including silk velvet and dupionni, which supposedly shouldn't be washed, but they turned out beautifully. I've had just as many accidents and frustrations, though. Testing is your friend. Also, remember to run a clean water only batch before you start. I had 10 yards of silk turn brown instead of grey because of bleach residue in a washer (darn public washers!). The dye won't stain, but it will leave a residue, so be kind and do a cycle with only bleach when you're done, so the next load doesn't end up with little dye spots or a dingy color from the leftovers.

    There's also a really good dye thread:

    http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=6361822&replies=82


    It's rather old, but the information is really good.
  9. Naboo_Girl Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2003
    star 1
    I have a question...
    I'm planing on buying about 11 yds of burnout velvet from silkconnection.com for my padme costume I'm making. The velvet has a Rayon pile and a Silk back. It needs to be dyed a really dark blue and I was wondering what type of dye I should use. Would the RIT dye be able to dye it dark enough or would the dye from Dharma work better on velvet? Also, when I dye it, should I place the whole piece of fabric in the washer (if it fits?) or should I cut out my pattern piece first so I have more room in the washer? I've heard though that doing it the last way might shrink the fabric pieces. And does dyeing velvet in the washer ruin the pile of the velvet any? If anyone can give my some advice on this, it would be most appreciated. Thanks.
    Naboo_Girl
  10. FenigDurak Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 6, 2002
    star 4
    When I dyed mine, I used RIT dye, but I didn't use a dye bath method. I prepared the dye as instructed but then filled two spray bottles with the dye. My velvet was lain out in the backyard on dozens of butchered garbage bags and then sprayed down the grain of the velvet (we have a front loading washer and dryer, so I didn't want to ruin the feel of the velvet). This worked for me, but it took 14 boxes of purple RIT dye and two boxes of black (for darkening)

    Don't cut out the pattern pieces first as the velvet will shrink. Mine did, and even though it turned out to be a stroke of lucky genius for me, I was devestated at first. Ask my Mom. I was sobbing. It was horrible.
  11. Sister_Sola Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2002
    star 4
    Okay so I thought ordering RIT dyes online was going to be an easy thing. But I'm in Canada. I tried to place my order at ritdye.com which lists a field for "state/province" and a field for "zip/postal code", but it would not accept my postal code! Silliness. I emailed them asking if they ship to Canada and have not heard back.

    I've already phoned around to all the likely stores in my city and they only carry RIT powder, so it's online or bust man!

    Does anyone know of any sites that sell RIT liquid, and ship to Canada?

    Thanks for your help!
  12. Naboo_Girl Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2003
    star 1
    Thanks FenigDurak! Did you wash your velvet any before or after you dyed it?
  13. FERDALUMP Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2002
    star 3
    Sister_Sola I know of a source that ships to Canada but they only stock Dylon dyes and Dye It! If you would like me to pick you up some Rit Dye and ship it to you I would be happy to do that--Just send me a PM. :)

    Naboo_girl Have you checked out the Senate Dress thread? Kay_dee has done a beautiful job dying the exact same velvet with excellent results. She did not use RIT but it may be worth it to you to check out her suggestions on dying this velvet.

    ~Ferd :)

  14. Obi-Dawn Kenobi Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 4
    Sola, what color(s) do you need? Brown? I'd be more than happy to just go pick them up for you and send them out your way asap. It would be no trouble at all. PM me if I can help! :)


    edited: FERD beat me to it! Well, now you have two of us ready to help! :p
  15. Sister_Sola Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2002
    star 4
    Wow, you guys are sooooooo wonderful!!!! That is so generous of you - thank you so much!

    *wipes tears welling up*
  16. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Naboo Girl I found my old post to Obi-Dawn about using Procion Fiber Reactive dyes from Dharma. I'm actually going to stick with this dye for my costume because I have all the supplies and I've been happy with my results. The Rayon pile takes the color just fine and it does not hurt it all all to get it wet. You can wash by hand and then tumble dry it on low/delecate in the dryer when you are done dyeing and it comes out perfectly. The silk takes the color well - just use the midnight blue color available at Dharma at 1.5 x normal strength called for in their instructions. If you use any other color than midnight blue you are taking a huge risk - all the purples I tested came out very red on the silk.

    Personally, I plan to cut up my bolt into 2 or 3 smaller sections that my pattern pieces will fit onto with room for shrinkage. 12 or so yards is just too much to move around the rubbermaid tub in one piece. You really should wash your velevet before you dye it. That's in the directions at Dharma's site. It's important to have the fabric damp before it's put in the dye bath. Also, washing it removes any gums, preservatives - etc that the fabric might have on it.

    Here are some of my early dye results:

    http://www.angelfire.com/art/kathys/purple_velvet1.htm

    I'll copy and paste my dye info here:

    The trick with dyeing in the bathtub was putting another container in there - an 18 gallon rubbermaid tub. If you have tile with grout be careful of that - it will stain the grout. (I had to scrub it out the second a drop got on - next time I will tape up a plastic sheet to protect the tile grout). The dye rinses out of the tub perfectly fine. It won't stain it. I also have one of those detachable shower heads with a hose and that really helped with clean up.

    1) Get all ingredients dissolved ahead of time! Including the soda ash fixer even though it isn't called for until 20 minutes into the process. (You'll be too busy stirring your fabric to have time to mix it) Also, make sure when it comes time to add your soda ash fixer to the bath that you actually remove your fabric from the bath before adding in the soda ash solution! Mix it in, then put your fabric back in. This is why doing it in the tub is handy - you can put the messy fabric off to the side of your rubbermaid tub on the floor of your bathtub and just clean up that mess later.


    2) If you are using several gallons of water for a large amount of fabric, I suggest using a portion of that water to pre-dissolve your table salt before adding it to the bath. I had to get a couple of huge pots boiling in the kitchen in order to dissolve all the salt that is called for (20 cups of salt is a LOT!)


    3) Make sure you pre-dissolve your dye in a small amount of water before adding it to the bath. Be sure to mix it well, as there always seem to be little bits that don't want to dissolve right away.

    4) Get some long plastic spoons and a few sets of plastic gloves (If you can find ones that go up to your elbow that would be best). When you are stirring your fabric, you need to actually pull it out and move it with your hands to untangle it now and then. Also, make sure none of the fabric pieces you are dyeing get stuck to the bottom of the tub (keep them moving!)

    5) You should get some of the dye fixative they sell at Dharma for your final rinse. This prevents the fabric from bleeding color out.

    6) It takes a while, but make sure you keep rinsing your fabric until no more dye comes out in the rinse water. (I got some plastic tubs for my kitchen sink and just kept rinsing over and over) I then put my fabric into the spin cycle of the washing machine to get rid of excess water and fluffed a bit on low heat in the dryer. That way, you avoid the problem of streaks that can occur if you hang the damp cloth to dry. (laying flat would be best if you have room)

    I was a dye novice too - so I figured if I could give you some of the tips I learned from trial and error and talking to the experts at Dharma that it could be helpful for ya!

    ------------
  17. FenigDurak Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 6, 2002
    star 4
    I did wash my velvet, but I did it in a similar manner to the way I dyed it. Spray bottles with warm water and just a touch of soap. Then rinse with more warm water sans the soap.
  18. MonaLeia Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 13, 2003
    star 2
    Hi everyone! I have a dyeing question or rather an UN-dyeing question. I found the perfect fabric today on sale - cotton gauze - but the only colors they had were an ugly greeny beige pattern and BRIGHT purple. The color I wanted was either a very pale blue or purple so I bought the purple with the hope of lightening it. What is the best way to lighten the color without making it white?
  19. Master_Domtis Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2001
    star 4
    wait a minute....
    my friend's a professional period seamstress, and she told me that the only way to sucsessfully dye velvet was to buy one of those really expensive specialty boards and dye only a little at a time (as much as the board will fit on it). Unless, of course, you want a crushed velvet effect...

    what kind of velvet did you use? How much was it? how did you dye it without it being crushed?
    You might just save me alot of money and grief ;) :D


    MonaLeia: Rit makes a great color remover, I've used it many times and it works like a charm. Just use it like you would normal dye and it makes almost anything white. That cotton gause ought to lighten right up :D
  20. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    The velvet being used on the Purple Senate dress is a burn-out velvet with a rayon pile and sheer silk backing. Honestly I haven't dyed my entire bolt yet - but I'm not worried. The people at Dharma Trading had large scarves made of the same velvet that were dyed using the tub method. Plus, someone named Sabine (can't give you a direct link here but you can find her though Padawan's Guide on the Purple Senate Dress page) dyed her bolt of fabric all in one large piece using the washing machine method and it turned out fine after getting it wet.

    Perhaps heavier thick velvets are not as easy to dye? The light rayon pile on the burn-out velvet dries pretty evenly without getting crushed.

    -Kay Dee
  21. kay_dee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2002
    star 4
    Just bumping this thread up :)

    And as an update to my last post, I did dye my 13 yards of burnout velvet using procion dye and the tub dying method and it turned out fine. I did not cut up my fabric before dying it either. After tumble drying it there is no crushing at all.

    Perhaps it is velveteen, which has a short dense pile, that requires a different dying method?

    -kay dee

  22. FERDALUMP Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2002
    star 3
    (**Posted here in response to Nos' question about dyeing white lace ivory for Padme's Wedding Gown on another dyeing thread**)
    Nos Here are some websites I found helpful when I was dyeing lace Ivory- they combine tea and yellow, or beige dye. Both of them look have great tips that hopefully will help you out, too.

    Tea does work alone, but sometimes can be too peach or yellowish--and look more aged than ivory--It's a very fine line to walk.

    Click Me And... Click Me

    Hope that helps! (I'll post it in the older dye thread too incase this one gets locked.

    ~Ferd :)
  23. Sister_Sola Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2002
    star 4
    Unlocked for recent query :)
  24. Falls_the_Shadow Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2002
    star 3
    Has anyone here had to clean up stray dye that got onto a plastic bathtub or vinyl flooring? Even with the most careful lining with a barrier, some spot stains I think would happen.

    I have an apartment with no washer/dryer of my own, only that from the apartment complex.

    Has anyone dyed a large piece of fabric especially silk/rayon velvet (i.e. red handmaiden outfit) under those restrictions?
  25. GentleBant Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 1999
    star 5
    My first two versions of the flame gown were done in a townhouse garage; my last two outside in our backyard.

    I used the paint on/spray-on dyes for all of my gowns; while it's not as pretty or neat as the tub/boiling/silk methods, it seems to work fine. Doing it this way, I'd hang them upside down and use the pump-spray bottles or a sponging method to apply the dyes. (In the garage, I had to hang it from the ceiling.) I lined everthing in sight with layers and layers of newspaper; once I used a few cheap plastic tablecloths underneath them to keep stuff from soaking through. Maybe what you could get are some thinner-grade painter's tarps, tape them all over your bathroom, lay down some newspaper to absorb the extra, and use the spray-on dyes?


    I think I recorded what dyes I used in the other dye thread:
    A new dye thread.

    Otherwise, if you want to know which they are, I'm sure I could look it up for you. Best wishes with your project!
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