Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Dyeing Q&A

Hi Melody,
I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.
I was wondering when you die fabrics you mentioned you use a spoon. Do you use the squirt bottle to apply the dye and then use the spoon to get out the bubbles?

Yes. Sometimes I just smoosh the fabric with my gloved hands, but generally the spoon will move the dye and the airbubbles adequately.

I was wondering also how much dye you put to the fabric. Do you almost "soak" each level when doing a graduation?
Answering this is almost impossible. The fabric is damp, so when the dye is applied it moves along the fibers. I keep adding dye and checking to see if it has seeped through to the bottom layer, looking for white patches.

Does it matter the amount of dye you apply to the fabric?

The amount of dye in the solution determines the strength of the color, if that's what you are asking. If the mixture is weak then the color will be lighter. I am sure once you experiment, all these things will become evident.

When you are doing a graduation do you wait for the dye to almost dry before washing or do you just wait 24 hours?

I prefer to let or make the fabric dry. It lessens the problem of dyeback, which is one color affecting another. The washout is hot hot hot water and lots of detergent, so most of the excess dye is removed in the first rinse. If I am in a hurry I will washout damp fabric, and it is just a bit more of a mess, usually dye getting on the washing machine and the front of my apron. Dry fabric is so much easier to handle.

I noticed you also you fold the fabric quite a bit why is this?

Several reasons. The fabric is folded to absorb all the dye, especially when doing a rainbow gradation where I am using 13 colors on one length of fabric. Also to make it cost effective for the customer, I try to do many pieces at once or it would be weeks worth of dyeing for very little income. I refuse to be a factory worker any more than one week a month.

Also, just curious, what type of machine do you use? And, do you use a hoop when doing free motion?

Sorry, no quilting questions... Just kidding! I have a Janome 6500 and never use a hoop to do free motion.
Love, love, love, love your quilts!!!!!! Thank you for all your tips you provide on your website.

My pleasure. If you have a question I am happy to answer. Even if I don't know the answer, I will make one up. Another reader asks:

About dyeing. Have you ever had any problems with water? My colors were not
as bright as yours and when I told a friend that, she had the same problem.
She used to have a business dyeing fabric on the Internet. She got too
successful and busy, and with a small child, decided to give it up. She had
trouble with the water and could not get the bright colors she wanted at
times. There is something you can put in the water, but it seems to be
quite expensive.

I am lucky to have a water softener and that makes the combination of water and dye particles very receptive to the fabric. Since the dyes I use are Procion MX which is a fiber reactive dye the ph of the water is an important factor. More information on this subject can be found from ProChem, where they have actual chemists answer questions like this, not actual bloggers.

There is one thing though that I must express. I can only help so much, and you must take the leap yourself and TRY THINGS. I am speaking of the general YOU.
There is no substitute for experimentation. You learn so much by doing the thing. I learned all I know from books and then doing it.
The act of trying is worth more than all the schools, classes, books and blogs could ever teach.