Sunday, October 07, 2012

Deep, dark dye

I am continuing to over dye some of the woven stripe fabrics, preparing a nice stash for something—when I figure out what.These are some darks I dyed today. I think they turned out pretty great. I was going for a dark taupe and they are kind of a purplish gray, but I quite like the color. I am not a precise dye mixer. Along the top are the fabrics as they looked before the dye. The two dark stripes on the right are both from the same navy and white stripe you see above. After dyeing the first pieces, I threw another piece of the stripe in the pot and pulled it back out pretty quickly for a lighter shade. The one at the bottom was a small piece of an icky tannish fabric and I dyed all I had, so there is no original left to compare it to. The two darkest pieces above were left in the dye the longest.

Now I am going to tell you something shocking. I over dyed these pieces and the ones I did the other day with Rit dye. Regular old Rit from the grocery store. Yes, I know. This is not cool. All first class fabric artists use only Procion MX  dyes.  If I were dyeing yards and yards or going for deep and brilliant colors that is what I would use. But I am dyeing little pieces and just changing the colors to get some variety and value selection. Procion dyes are a huge hassle, requiring face mask and soda ash and dye powder getting all over the place and a big wet area. I know of what I speak. Years ago I made batiks, using only Procion dyes. I am over that. No more big old buckets of dye for me. Rit is easy. And it works pretty well. I use the liquid, so there is no toxic powder in the air.

I dyed what I did the other day in the laundry sink in the studio, but I knew to get deeper color with Rit I needed to get it hotter. I went out to the Thrift store today and bought a great little stainless steel pot and cooked up my dye bath in it. I heated the water, added the dye, salt and fabric and stirred while it simmered for about 10 minutes. Worked great.

BTW, I have never believed that Rit is not as colorfast as better dyes. My mom was the queen of Rit dye. She dyed our bedspreads and curtains and socks and even towels when they got a little sad looking and brightened them right up. The color lasted as long as the stuff did. She dyed a white dress shirt of my Dad's hot pink for some kind of costume party getup. I wore the oversized hot pink shirt with my jeans for years after.


  1. Thank you Terry for this informative and inspiring post :)

  2. My daughter Rit-dyed some T shirts which get washed every week and they are still the same after a year- something that can't be said about commercially dyed, purchased Ts. She dyed a whole load in the washer. Some large pieces of fabric could probably be done like that.

  3. Thanks! I was just thinking yesterday that maybe I should try over-dying one of my jeans that are old and faded, but have plenty of service left in them. I'll pick up some RIT :)

  4. I like the colors. You have inspired me. I have some old clothes I've kept for the fabric, but never really thought about over dyeing them.

    I have over dyed my regular dyed pieces I didn't like. And I have over dyed some of my clothes that have had a little stain on them. Maybe someday, I can over dye some of the old clothes.

  5. Yes, the cropping works. I especially love the nasturtium piece.

  6. Even towels? Hmmmm....