The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-05-2011, 11:40 AM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Near Washington, DC
Posts: 7,861
Best fabric dye for cotton? Polyester?

The coffers are a bit bare this year, and my wardrobe is looking a bit drab. While some things will ahve to be replaced, many would be fine if they weren't fading just a bit. So I want to do some dying, especially of my dark clothing.

The majority of the fabrics are cotton or mostly cotton. I have used "RIT" fabric dyes in the past but was unimpressed. There really doesn't seem to be a lot of choice in the local stores, although I haven't yet made it over to the megacraft (Michael's) to see what they might have.

So: Question 1 is What dye brands have you been particularly happy with for dyeing cotton fabric? The colors are mostly dark navy blue and black if it matters.

Question 2 would be is there any cotton fabric dye that should not be used on a polyster blend? (I understand that the polyester fibres won't pick it up, I just don't want them to disintegrate.)

Question 3 is it actually possible to home dye polyester at all? If so, brand recommendations?

Question 4 What don't I know that I don't know? Enlighten me!

Any on-line sources if you have them would also be greatly appreciated!

Thanks Dopers!
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 01-05-2011, 02:55 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
I have heard of, but never used, Jacquard dye for cotton:
http://www.pacificwoolandfiber.com/J...0MX%20Dyes.htm
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-05-2011, 03:07 PM
ENugent ENugent is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Seattle area
Posts: 3,497
My go-to store for dyeing (and all textile projects) is Dharma Trading. Their Procion dyes for cotton are excellent. That said, black is hard to achieve. I've not tried their polyester dyes, but generally all of the information and products I've found there have been good, so I would assume that they are, too.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-05-2011, 03:08 PM
Lasciel Lasciel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
It is nearly impossible to dye artificial fibers in a home environment.

RIT is the mainstay for natural fibers, and that is all that you'll find most places.

Check sites like www.dharmatrading.com for more information about home-dyeing different types of natural fabrics (and even some info on artificial fibers, but like I said, that's really difficult and usually expensive).

This page: http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/3246-AA.shtml in particular is quite helpful.

There are some really great dyes out there, but they can get really expensive when you're looking for more permanent and more vibrant options than RIT.

I don't know that home dyeing is really a market for broke people trying to extend their wardrobes any longer, sadly.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-05-2011, 03:58 PM
cwthree cwthree is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Jaquard brand Procion MX fiber-reactive dyes in combination with soda ash fixer are very good for dyeing cotton and other cellulose-based fibers, such as rayon, tencel, and hemp. ENugent is correct that black is hard to achieve. Jaquard sells several shades of black (warm black, jet black, etc.), but I wouldn't expect any of them to completely cover a different color or pattern without some show-through. However, if you're simply trying to refresh the color on a garment that was originally solid black or dark blue, you should be able to get a satisfactory result with Procion dyes.

As Lasciel said, it's next to impossible to dye artificial fibers, such as polyester, at home. I have dyed cotton blends with Procion. The cotton component of the fabric took up the dye just fine, but the polyester didn't take it up at all. The dye didn't harm the polyester, though - I just ended up with a kind heathery-looking fabric (dye color + white). Don't try this on garments stitched with white polyester thread unless you want the stitching to be very visible when you're done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TruCelt
Question 4 What don't I know that I don't know? Enlighten me!
When the directions warn you to weigh the fabric before you start, they're serious. Dry weight is the best way to calculate the amount of dye to use.

When the directions advise you to use what seems like a ridiculous amount of dye for certain colors (usually darker shades such as purples, dark blues, and blacks), they're serious.

You will get more even dyeing if you use LOTS of water so that the fabric can move around in the dyebath.

Don't be alarmed at the end of the dyeing process when you pour off the water and it looks like there's still a lot of dye left in the water. A little excess dye goes a long way adding color to water. As long as you followed directions, you are not throwing away perfectly good dye.

Wear gloves when handling dye and dyestuffs, unless you want to explain to your co-workers why you have green (blue, pink, whatever) fingernails and cuticles. Ask me how I know this!

If you're dyeing a garment made of a patterned fabric, consider using a dye color that will harmonize with the existing colors rather than trying to obliterate the pattern with a very dark color. As mentioned before, it's hard to really cover up a pattern with Procion blue or black.

Last edited by cwthree; 01-05-2011 at 04:00 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-05-2011, 04:04 PM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Near Washington, DC
Posts: 7,861
If I'm doing a set of navy blue, and a set of black, should I do the navy, leave the dye in the vat, and just add the black dye to it? Or would I actually be working against the goal of getting the black as dark as possible? I would prefer a "bluish" black over the other options in ENu's link.

Las, you're right int hat it's more expensive than I though, but still much cheaper than replacing all those socks and slacks. I have trouble wearing most fibers, so everything has to be cotton based, and thus fades long before it wears.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-05-2011, 04:09 PM
ENugent ENugent is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Seattle area
Posts: 3,497
Socks? Socks are probably not going to take dye well at all. Most will have lycra in them that you cannot dye at home.

Dharma does sell white cotton socks that take dye very well. I have no idea what kind of magic they perform to get this to work.

Start over with a new vat for the black. If you're tub dyeing with a Procion dye, the directions will have you mix in soda ash to "fix" the dye. The leftover soda ash in the bath will interfere with the next color.

Oh, and follow the directions about water temperature, too.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-05-2011, 04:12 PM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Near Washington, DC
Posts: 7,861
Thanks everyone!

whoops! Ninja'd by C3


Yes, just refreshing, not trying to make any changes in the pattern etc.

More questions:

The directions I've seen in the past always say to wet the fabric first. This is counterintitive. It would seem that the fabric sucking in the dye bath would dye more deeply/completely if you start with the fabric dry. Can anyone explain why wetting the fabric first is a good idea?

Am I correct in thinking that I need to wash the clothes first if they have been dried with softener sheets?

Last edited by TruCelt; 01-05-2011 at 04:12 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-05-2011, 04:14 PM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Near Washington, DC
Posts: 7,861
Do I need to be careful how I dispose of the dye afterwards? Can I just pour off the tub in the yard, or is it hazmat?

Since the socks started out black, I'm guessing the lycra in them is already black too. I'm just trying to re-dye the faded cotton part.

Last edited by TruCelt; 01-05-2011 at 04:14 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-05-2011, 05:01 PM
cwthree cwthree is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by TruCelt View Post
The directions I've seen in the past always say to wet the fabric first. This is counterintitive. It would seem that the fabric sucking in the dye bath would dye more deeply/completely if you start with the fabric dry. Can anyone explain why wetting the fabric first is a good idea?

Am I correct in thinking that I need to wash the clothes first if they have been dried with softener sheets?
The "wet before dyeing" thing seems counterintuitive, but it works because it slows and equalizes dye uptake. Dry fiber and fabric tend to absorb dye unevenly. Have you ever tried to wipe up a spill with a totally dry rag or sponge, only to have it leave behind lots of liquid? By contrast, if you dampen the sponge or rag first and wring it out well, it will actually soak up the liquid better. The same principle applies to dyeing.

Do wash the clothes in hot water and detergent before dyeing. The residue from the softener sheets will interfere with dye uptake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TruCelt View Post
Do I need to be careful how I dispose of the dye afterwards? Can I just pour off the tub in the yard, or is it hazmat?

Since the socks started out black, I'm guessing the lycra in them is already black too. I'm just trying to re-dye the faded cotton part.
Procion dyes are supposed to be non-toxic. I suppose you could pour it on the ground away from food plants and away from anywhere that animals might lick it up. I've always poured the exhausted dyebath down the drain on the assumption that "non-toxic" means "non-toxic to humans in incidental quantities." My home drains to a sanitary sewer, not a septic tank. I don't know if that's a consideration for you.

If the socks started out black, it's quite possible that the lycra is holding its color just fine and it's the mainly the cotton that's fading. In any case, a trip through the dyebath will freshen the color and make them look less faded.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-15-2012, 11:58 PM
SwedishAngel1 SwedishAngel1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Fabric Dye for Polyester...

I dyed 1 100% Polyester White Lace Curtain Panel to Pink by:

* In a large Bucket
* Put in 2-4 tins regular Dylon fabric dye (pink or desired color)
* Pour in 4-6 full bottles of rubbing alcohol (with alcohol as first ingredient) = (NOT hot or heated)
* Pour in full medium pot of boiling hot water
* Stir
* Sit in bucket for 2 hours and Stir occasionally
* Hand Squeeze fabric by hand with gloves on
* Put item in dryer alone on cool temperature in the dryer for 30 mins (don't rinse and don't wash)

Color came out nice and even and fabric was soft and did not stink...
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-17-2012, 11:29 PM
Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by TruCelt View Post
Question 3 is it actually possible to home dye polyester at all? If so, brand recommendations?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasciel View Post
It is nearly impossible to dye artificial fibers in a home environment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwthree View Post
As Lasciel said, it's next to impossible to dye artificial fibers, such as polyester, at home.
I beg to differ. I do it all the time. What's more, I do it with non-toxic materials. Check out this 100% polyester polo shirt tie-dye. Sorry it's such a bad photo, but the only camera I have right now is my phone.

Since I've told dozens of people IRL about this, and since no one ever bothers to use them besides me, I'll share my secret with any Doper who reads this thread. I've been using these products to tie-dye for over 25 years now.

The iridescent ones are tricky to use, and the transparent ones don't work well at all, but all of the opaques and fluorescents work equally well on cotton, silk or polyester. They are water-based, so diluting them is easy.

I've used them to dye a few items "whole cloth", and that is kind of tricky because you have to make sure that the dye gets applied evenly and stays that way as the item dries. I usually dilute in a bucket, let it soak for a day or so, then dry it flat. If there are still anomalies, I repeat the process. Black is still difficult, but can be achieved by diluting as little as possible.

Once the article is dry, you just have to iron it to get the dye to set.

These colors will never fade once they are set into the fabric, btw.

Now that said, these aren't cheap. You can find them at some fabric/hobby stores and prolly at a real art supply store, or you can order them online. I get mine from Dick Blick Art Supplies.

For tie-dying, the small 2oz bottles will do colors for 4 or 5 shirts, as long as you dilute them a bit with water. You really have to do this, so the color will spread thru the fabric and not just blot up where you apply it.

For whole cloth dying, I get the 16oz bottle. I use roughly half at once and dilute it as little as possible while still being able to completely submerge the article of clothing.

Again, whole cloth dying is hard because it's difficult to achieve a flat, uniform color with this media. I keep meaning to get a sprayer and try that, but so far I've not bothered; I wear a lot of tie-dyes.

But, if you want to do some creative dying, and want to use easy, non-messy (cleans up with soap and water), non-toxic media that will produce vivid non-fading colors, this is the way to go IMO.

If anyone wants, I can post pics of other shirts (cotton & poly), silk scarves, etc.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-18-2012, 05:26 AM
Corcaigh Corcaigh is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
I've used Dylon dye to some success on clothes, I've a black hoodie that was going grey, which darkened back nicely, same with indigo jeans. I've dyed a pair of grey jeans black, but they look a bit peculiar and the thighs look brown

I've tried dying polyester cotton blend sheets several times, and it never works properly - a white sheet dyed black came out grey, a light blue sheet dyed navy came out two tone blue, a white sheet dyed 'bahamian blue' came out with a tie-dyed effect.

I've never had anything come up the same colour as the 'patch' on the box, they always come up lighter.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03-18-2012, 10:56 PM
F.Pu-du-he-pa-as F.Pu-du-he-pa-as is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
While we're on the subject of dying, have any of you tried dying silk? How did that go for you? I do a lot of home sewing, and I thought that buying white silk crepe de chine and dying it would be a more inexpensive way to go than buying it pre-dyed. I don't need to shoot for a specific color; most shades of the colors I usually use (blue, green, purple) look good on me.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03-19-2012, 10:45 AM
ENugent ENugent is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Seattle area
Posts: 3,497
I've dyed lots of silk scarves for play. The easiest way to do it is to soak them in vinegar, then use Procion dyes, then put them in a plastic bag and microwave. I forget how long I zapped them, but I was following instructions from the Dharma site. Beautiful, vibrant colors that are very long-lasting.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:10 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.