Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Lazy Dyer



I confess, I must be the laziest dyer around. If there is a shortcut to do anything, I MUST find it. There are thousands of books on dyeing available so why am I showing you my process?
Because it is easier and that is REASON ENOUGH.

#1 Using regular household utensils measure a tablespoon of dye powder into a measuring cup.




#2 Add plain water to just cover the dye powder.

#3 Stir until dissolved.

#4 Add more water.

I am mixing this dye powder with about two cups of water per tablespoon. This holds true for all the colors I use with the exception of fucshia which is so intense that I am only using ONE TEASPOON per 16oz of water.


I like to use squirt bottles which hold a cup or 8oz of liquid. I also like the 'disposable' plastic containers like Gladware or some such generic brand. I buy them in various sizes and they store so neatly in my dishpans. The dishpans are very useful for mixing dye into fabric to get a solid color.
I presoak all my fabric in a large Rubbermaid container filled with soda ash or sodium carbonate (same thing) and plain water. My house water is softened but if yours is hard then add some water softener like Calgon.



How much water to soda ash you ask?
Five gallons of water to 1/3 cup soda ash. But don't quote me on that. I just sprinkle more soda ash everytime I add water to my container.
The fabric is soaked just long enough to get thoroughly wet and then I put it in my washer SET ON SPIN CYCLE and run it long enough to get rid of most of the wetness. Then it is ready to dye. (of course you are only using PREPARED FOR DYEING fabrics).

THE DYES I USE
(by Melody Johnson, age 57 1/2)
Yellow #1, #2, #3+#4 ( I mix those last two half and half)
Deep Orange #6
Fire Red #10
Fuschia #13
Turquoise #25
All of those are from Dharma Trading Company.
Then from Pro Chem I order FGF Blue, which is a Sabrecron brand, also procion, so it is just like the others, mixes well, and is very very intense. Also very expensive, but a tiny bit goes a long way.
I order my acid dyes from either place, for yarn.
I use only procion dyes on my silk and don't change a thing in my formulaes when I dye the silk. I treat it exactly the same as cotton, all the way through the process and into the fusing. NOTHING IS DIFFERENT FOR THE SILK. Really.

THE FABRIC I USE
(by Melody Johnson, see above)
400 M from Testfabrics.com in West Pittston PA. I have used this fabric for decades. Always works great.
Silk Charmeuse from Exotic Silks.com 11A is the catalog number. It is heavy and nice and always dyes up perfectly. I use a very hot iron, and have never had a problem.
Other fabrics that I have used that work fine:
Nature's Dyeable unbleached muslin from Roclon
Pimatex pfd from Kaufmann
Kona pfd from Kaufman
Print cloth from Dharma, and all their fabrics, silks, hemp, muslins etc. are all pfd.
While I love the look of sateen, it is a twill weave and therefore when used raw edge, the threads stick up quickly at the edge and that does not make me happy. So instead I use a plain weave silk. It turns out the silk is less expensive anyway, so there.
I get my soda ash from the swimming pool supply place and presoak all my fabrics first.

To get solid colors:
Using a dishpan, pour in a cup of dye solution. Add fabric (wear your rubber gloves!!) and squeeze the dye into the fabric, wring it out and repeat until you are certain that all the dye is evenly distributed.
How much fabric will one cup of solution dye? Start with one damp yard. If you want to do a smaller amount use less dye solution. There will be leftover dye anyway but most of it will be absorbed into the fabric...depending on how wet it was originally.

Now what? Put the dyed fabric into one of the plastic containers and top it with the lid and set it aside.
Onto the next color.
If you have leftover dye solution in the dishpan, you can just throw it in with the fabric you just dyed, or use it for the next piece, adding more dye solution or plain water, for a very much lighter value. When I am dyeing solids, I just continue this dishpan routine until all the fabric is in the plastic containers and stacked up all over the place.
The next day I will wash it all out. If you live someplace warm, the fabric containers can be set out in the sun to 'bake' and then you can do the washout in about four hours.

THE WASHOUT: Fill your washing machine with hot water and regular detergent. Wearing your rubber gloves, wring out the individual pieces of fabric, starting with the lightest first. Just get the excess dye wrung out and pop the piece into the hot soapy water.
I try to keep like colors together in the washer, so I would do a load of yellows-oranges, and then another of red-fuschias etc. Of course I am doing 12 yards per washer load, and you may be doing something alot less.
I hate to rinse these pieces, since it is hard to lean over the sink and did I mention that I AM LAZY? If you feel you MUST rinse, before putting the pieces in the washer, then use hottest water to do the rinsing. You will soon tire of that business after you've gotten past your first thousand yards, and will just throw it all into the washer at once.

If you wish to do fancy stuff, go outside (temp must be above 70 degrees fahrenheit) and
use a plastic table and some plastic sheets and lay out your fabric in the hot sun and pour or drip the dye onto the fabric and have fun making a mess. The sun will dry the fabric in no time and then you are ready to wash it out and use it.


Did I mention salt or urea? Nope.
Did I mention Synthrapol? Nope.
How about sodium alginate?
That is thickener and can be used to thicken dye to make specific marks, like lines or dots or squiggles etc. I have used it in the past and may get ambitious and use it in the future...yeah right.

Here's my dye system for Special Edition fabrics. I use sheets of plexiglass 48"x24" and put my half yard pieces on these and put the dye on and let them dry overnight, with the help of big fans. Once the dye is dry the fabric is ready to wash out.



The panel with a Special Edition fabric. Note the white plastic spoons on the right. These are used to rub the airbubbles out and spread the dye smoothly. The bottles of dye are from the local beauty supply shop, and have a pretty good fitting cap. Dripping is not good.

Frieda Anderson's shelves
Freida is a genius and managed to one-up me on her dyerack. These are much much less expensive than my system. Learn from her.
The plexiglass sheets are paper backed and we have kept one side of the paper on and removed the other side. Plexiglass can be ordered from a plastics manufacturer in your locale. Use www.switchboard.com to find several and call them to ask if they will cut to order the right size for your shelves, should you decide to invest... my platters cost $16 each.
The method described is the same method used for silks and cottons. To get a textured surface, also knows as 'crackle' or marble or scrunchy, just pour the dye onto bunched up presoaked
fabric (in a container) and squeeze the dye through just once, and leave it alone. Adding more water to cover is good, or not... So much of dyeing is experience. The more you dye, the more you learn.
I always say,
"Surrender to the dye."
Whatever it wants to do is the thing you must accept.

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