The question was about dyeing fabric. I was asked about the supplies I use, the dyes.....and honestly, I am not quite sure what the dyes I have been using are ( they are old...from the 70s, maybe early 80's) they are a powder, come in a small brown envelope and are made up of very intense, concentrated colour...but I don't really know anything about them...are they "fibre-reactive"...or acid? I dunno....those of you who visit regularly, know that I don't worry about knowing the specifics...I don't get caught up in branding and terminology......I rarely follow instructions....I experiment, play...I "TRY" and from that, I find what works best for me.
The specific question was....can my recent dyeing experiments also be done using Rit dyes? (you know, those little boxes of dye that have been around forever and that can easily be obtained without having to find a specialty shop or order online) I happened to have a couple of boxes leftover from many years ago, back then when I used the Rit dye...I "cooked" it on the stove.....they always worked great that way...but could I use them the way I have been using these other dyes? I set out to find the answer.
This is a long post and photo heavy...BUT there is a surprise ending so if you are interested, come back when you have time to read the whole thing.
I gathered the basic supplies....Rit Dye, pre-washed 100% cotton, Soda ash, a paper mask, rubber gloves, plastic containers, freezer bags, and blue Dawn dishwashing liquid.
I am often asked about the soda ash...you can get it in a variety of forms, I found the Tulip brand at a major craft retailer, the Jacquard brand at an art supply store and the big container of pH Plus at a pool supply company...they are all the same thing (Sodium Carbonate)....it is much MUCH less expensive at the pool supply store.
|Soda ash (different packaging)|
|for this experiment, I used Rit dye,and prepped the fabric with pH Plus (soda ash)|
Left it to soak for about 30 minutes.
I use this method to acheive nicely mottled effects....the soda ash pre-soaked fabric now gets placed into freezer bags....the more rumpled and scrunched, the better
Note: when working with the dye powder you
As you can see, you don't need a lot of the dye powder
I put a bit in the cup and then add just a small amount of water to create a wet paste....once I have it at that stage, I can remove my mask.
Next I need to add "hot" water, for this experiment, I did not bother to boil it, I simply used the hottest water I could get directly from the tap. What is most important is that you get all the powder dissolved. Again.....you don't need much. (I did not measure but you can get the idea of volume....those are small sundae cups)
Now, I am ready to pour dye solution onto the fabric in the bags.....just a bit...it doesn't need to swim. If you like, you can use a few colours (keeping in mind that complimentaries will make mud) then you squish and squeeze to allow the dye to begin to work its way into the fabric. The more you squeeze the less mottling you will get.
I decided to test one piece by dyeing it without the benefit of the Soda ash pre-soak, it went into it's own freezer bag just having been thoroughly dampened with plain water....I expected that this piece would not suck up as much dye as the others....but....(something VERY interesting and unexpected happens)
Once I feel that I have the dye worked in enough, I seal up the bags.....cover the whole works with an old rag towel and leave it to sit overnight. (I leave it in my laundry room, where the furnace is, so it is in a nice warm spot)
The next day the bags can be opened and the fabrics rinsed....and rinsed and rinsed...(the dye process does use a lot of water) the goal is to remove all of the unused dye..(the fibers can only take in a certain amount of dye...the rest has to be washed away so that you will be left with fabric that will not continue to run/bleed......your goal is for the water to run clear.
I start this process by first rinsing each piece pretty well with plain water, then I use some blue Dawn dishwashing liquid...a few drops is all that is needed....it usually pulls out all that dye that did not penetrate the fabric
but wait!..it isn't working this time...to be specific...it isn't working on the fabrics that were pre-soaked with soda ash...I can not seem to get the water to run clear as I normally do...BUT it is working with the lone piece I dyed that had NOT been soaked in soda ash....hmmm strange but as you can see....I am always learning too.
|notice that the water is still showing a lot of colour (this was after many MANY rinses)|
|managed to get to clear water pretty quickly with this piece (the one that was not soda ash soaked)|
I don't know why....all I know is that with the RIT dye....it worked much better by completely eliminating the soda ash step
here are the dried and pressed pieces
|This piece turned out beautifully......even without the soda ash...totally unexpected! click on it for a better look|
You can see the nice mottled effects....scrunched and sitting in the bag, some of the fabric is exposed to a more concentrated pool of dye, so you get darker and lighter spots happening..the more "creases" the better the effect..the less you squish initially, the more whites you will have showing....if you wanted a more solid colour you would want to go and squish it a bit every so often in the early stages to cause a more even distribution of the dye.
This is really a super basic method....if you want to delve more into the dye process, and purchase all the recommended supplies and chemicals....go for it...there are a great many books on the subject and of course, workshops, classes, including online classes as well. BUT if you just wanted to try dyeing with just a few basic supplies, without all the up front investment...this is an easy, inexpensive way to give it a go....and as I discovered with this experiment...using the Rit dye, means you don't even have to get the Soda ash.
Perhaps you may try your own experiments.....But please....Do be mindful of safety!...use the mask, protect your skin with rubber gloves (unless you like multi-coloured hands)...protect your work area and your clothing.
Note: I did eventually stop "bleeding" on the problematic pieces....a final soak using a cap full of Retayne did the trick.