Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dyeing Experiment:
.
The Washout
My utmost concern was the hardness of water from the dye workshop sinks, which I am happy to say passed with flying colors. Then I had concerns about what fabrics we would be using in the workshop (in May), so I ran four tests on each of the four fabrics. I've recorded the results below. Warning, this is really dull reading.

Group #1
Fabrics: Roc-Lon's Nature's Way, James Thompson Bleached Muslin, James Thompson Unbleached Muslin, and Kona PFD. None of these were prewashed.
Using 1/4 cup soda ash and one gallon of water as a presoak, and two teaspoons of Deep Orange #6 in 8 oz. of water, I dyed these four fat quarters, using the massage and squeeze technique. This means I poured the dye into a dishpan, and placed the presoaked, wrung out fabric into the dye, squeezing the dye into the fabric, wringing it out, squeezing it again, until all the dye is manipulated into the fabrics. Then the dye is completely squeezed out, each fabric is balled up and placed side by side with each other in a plastic container, covered and allowed to sit all night. This prevents any extra dye liquid from creating a darker spot.
All washed out nicely, with the Kona taking the dye the lightest and the JT Muslin taking it deepest. The Nature's Way shrank the least, but the JT Muslins had the nicest hand and ironed nicely too. Kona seemed to be almost Perma-Press for ironing.

Group #2
Fabrics: Roc-Lon's Nature's Way, James Thompson Bleached Muslin, James Thompson Unbleached Muslin, and Kona PFD. None of these were prewashed.

Using 1/4 cup soda ash and one gallon of water as a presoak, and two teaspoons of Deep Orange #6 in 8 oz. of water, I dyed these four fat quarters,, I dyed these four fat quarters, using the crackle or scrunchy technique. This means each piece of fabric is crumpled into its own container, and the dye is poured over the surface and allowed to sink down through the wrinkles, in an effort to create textures. Cover the fabrics with dye solution. Do not manipulate the fabric for best results.
None of these fabrics showed much texture as you can see in the photo above. Mercerized cottons will show much more texture using the crackle technique. This method created a near solid, making it much more efficient with these particular fabrics, than the massage and squeeze technique.

Group #3
The same fabrics were prewashed and dyed using the Massage and Squeeze technique. No discernable difference was noted in the results.

Group #4

Fabrics: Roc-Lon's Nature's Way, James Thompson Bleached Muslin, James Thompson Unbleached Muslin, and Kona PFD. None of these were prewashed.
Using 1/4 cup soda ash and one gallon of water as a presoak, and one teaspoon of Deep Yellow #4 in 8 oz. of water, one teaspoon of Deep Orange #6 in 8 oz. of water, and one teaspoon of Fire Red #10 in 8 oz. of water, I dyed these four fat quarters, using the Direct Application Technique. Fabrics are presoaked, wrung out and pleated lengthwise. Then dyes are poured onto the fabric and allowed to flow together to mix colors where they meet. The fabric is left uncovered overnight. Nature's Way muslin showed the most texture and a good deep color but is very stiff and wrinkly, difficult to press, but the most width. JT Bleached Muslin and Unbleached Muslin showed good deep color, good texture and the finest hand. Kona was washed out looking.

Since none of these fabrics are mercerized I expected to find just OK results.

I like the James Thompson muslins the best because of their fine tightly woven hand, and their ability to absorb the dyes well and press out easily. However, they are not easy to find and if the the workshop site didn't have them on hand, I wouldn't know where to advise purchasing them.

I have used Nature's Way in the past and find it acceptable if it is dried after washing to just damp and pressed out from that point.

The Kona, while a favorite of many is such a loose weave that it doesn't take the dyes in the same way as a more densely woven cotton. And being a fuser, I prefer a more dense, less fraying fabric.

For further information on dyes and dyeing, see my new site, The Lazy Dyer, where this post will be included.

13 comments:

  1. Wow...very informative.
    I have been going through your blog and it has many cool stuff. Thanks for the awesome blog and keep the posts coming!

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  2. This is not boring stuff!!!! More more more keep it coming.

    Caryl

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  3. Anonymous2:19 PM

    Mel - James Thompson muslins are put out by Springs. Walmart carries it, if you can find a Walmart that has a fabric dept in it. Also JoAnn Fabrics carries it and probably Hancock Fabrics to.

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  4. Anonymous2:22 PM

    Oh I forgot - Hobby Lobby may carry James Thompson muslins also.

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  5. Does Dharma Trading carry any of these fabrics or are these all from your local quilt store? I am very intriqued, wish I could have watched at your elbow! (of course my hands would be orange today if I had!)

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  6. Anonymous2:25 PM

    www.jamesthompson.com

    MEADOWLARK MUSLIN
    Natural (171190)
    White (171191)
    45" WIDE
    100% COTTON
    78X76 THREAD COUNT
    PUT-UP ON 35 YD BOLTS
    & 50 YD. ROLLS.
    This is our best quality muslin. It has a Crease Resistant Finish, and is pre-shrunk to 2-3%. We also offer this fabric construction as 60" PREMIER MUSLIN.

    RIVIERA MUSLIN
    Natural (171189)
    48" WIDE
    100% COTTON
    78X76 THREAD COUNT
    PUT-UP ON 35 YD. BOLTS
    & 50 YD. ROLLS.

    TRAVELER'S MUSLIN
    Natural (171891)
    38" WIDE
    100% COTTON
    68X68 THREAD COUNT
    PUT-UP ON 50 YD BOLTS & ROLLS

    OSNABURG
    Natural (171491)
    45" WIDE
    100% COTTON
    PUT-UP ON 30 YD BOLTS
    & 50 YD. ROLLS- Also is Crease Resistant and pre-shrunk

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  7. Anonymous2:26 PM

    Where to buy...
    www.jamesthompson.com/buy/

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  8. Mel, You are seriously tempting me to sneak in a little dyeing. I'm completely out of orange fabric and I have a piece of linen that I want to dye grey...

    But dyeing (along with the big cold glass of Chardonnay that I really want) must wait until this baby is born. ;-)

    All good things come to those who wait.... Right?

    Cheerio
    Claire

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  9. These look great! Glad the hard water didn't really affect them.

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  10. Anonymous1:42 AM

    Ms Mel,
    Are you interchanging the terms pre-soak with pre-wash?

    Pre-wash, to me is throwing it into a washing machine or handwashing in soapy water.

    I understand 'pre-soak' as just that with the soda ash component.

    Please clarify for me.
    Thanks

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  11. Very interesting! I always add my soda ash solution after applying the dye when I do low water immersion dyeing, but you are not the first dyer to talk about pre-soaking then batching overnight. I always thought that was only for direct application dyeing, but have seen some pretty great results including yours! Thanks for the tips, and now I have to try it, right?

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  12. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Melody, I enjoy your dyeing insights. I love the way the Mercerized Cotton Print Cloth from Dharma takes the dyes in the same wonderful crisp and texture-y way you describe. It is so reasonably priced and it might be good to fuse as it is not as heavy and open as the Kona.

    I am interested to know how the process works when letting the dyed fabrics dry in the hot sun without batching (keeping them moist for several hours for the dyes to work.) Why does drying in the sun work?

    Judy in Indiana

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  13. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Melody, I enjoy your dyeing insights. I love the way the Mercerized Cotton Print Cloth from Dharma takes the dyes in the same wonderful crisp and texture-y way you describe. It is so reasonably priced and it might be good to fuse as it is not as heavy and open as the Kona.

    I am interested to know how the process works when letting the dyed fabrics dry in the hot sun without batching (keeping them moist for several hours for the dyes to work.) Why does drying in the sun work?

    Judy in Indiana

    ReplyDelete

Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com