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Dyeing fabric and Making fabric colorfast

scrubble4 | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi:  I am looking to learn about dyeing cotton type fabric and how to make it colorfast.

I haven’t been here in a while as the processes keep changing and seem confusing.  This is the second attempt to post this request.  I created a previous post and then tried to preview it. I was asked to go to administration and set up my website and then I was denied access.  When I back toggled to return to my post it was empty.  Rats!  So I am going to try again. 

I have roamed about the Interent and discovered that salt and vinegar will help.  I am not sure of the proportion of them or the water and if the two are mixed into the same water bath.  If anyone can help I would appreciate your insights.  I have been given a lot of different weights of white fabric.  I don’t need more white clothes and I thought some dyed coral and some apple green and maybe some turquoise would give me some cheerful clothing choices.  Thanks in advance Scrubble


  1. kate lamar | | #1

    Dying fabric

    Try Dharma Traders.  They specialize in dyes and also sell fabrics and dyable accessories (blanks).  I too have heard of the vinegar and salt combo, but the experts at Dharma very helpful.


  2. KharminJ | | #2

    Hi, Scrubble!

    I've got to admit to "no experience, and just enough knowledge to be dangerous" on this one, but... your color choices sound wonderful! I hope that whatever process(es) you use, you're delighted with the results. 

    As for Previewing your post, I've never been successful at that, either, BUT you can expand the Comment box, by click-and-dragging the diagonal marks in the lower right hand corner. That way you can at least read the whole thing at once before you commit to it!  ;)


    continued below, if I don't "trigger the spam filter" for some reason...

    1. KharminJ | | #3

      It sounds like what you're looking for info on are "mordants" - salts, vinegar, alum and other substances that have been used in various ways and combinations for thousands of years to help 'fix' dyes. There is, of course, a Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordant) but it gets very technical very quickly, and doesn't give much practical "what do I use and how do I do it?" information.

      The website for Earthues.com A Natural Dyes Company (located in Seattle) has an informative article about them, http://www.earthues.com/aboutmordants.html, and they seem very open to beginner's questions.

      Textiles in Depth (http://www.textilesindepth.com/index.php?page=mordants) has a fairly informative but academic article, and a ton of ads (that you don't have to visit, of course). 

      If your new stash isn't specifically "ready to dye", there may be coatings or fillers that could interfere with the intensity or permanence of any dye. Also, the type of dyes you use will affect your results. Dharma Trading, as Kate suggested, are very knowledgeable and helpful.


  3. scrubble4 | | #4

    Thanks for your guidance

    Kate Lamar and KharminJ:  Thanks so much for your help.  I bought some inexpensive grocery store dye - Forest Green - and put a swatch in it.  It turned a soft lime green so I am pretty sure there is a lot or all polyester in this swatch.

    I went to the Dharma site and noticed they do have a dye iDye for polyesters.  Yahoo!  Pretty limited color selection for iDye (but their other dyes have almost limitless color selections).   I have emailed them with questions to know if I buy the yellow and add some red whether I will get coral.  They do also have an orange so they may suggest I buy it and add either yellow or red to get my coral.  Their instructions also say that boiling it on the stove rather than just doing in washing machine will intensify the color and increase color fastness.  Unfortunately, they say poly will continue to bleed through subsequent washings even with their "mordant" (thanks KharminJ I love learning).  They also have a sunbloc that you can put on clothes that will last up to 20 washings.  I found that interesting, especially for my cycling clothes. 

    I am going to check out the sites you suggested KharminJ.  I will undoubtedly be pretty good at the dyeing thing by the time I use up my white stash.  I am motivated not only by a new wardrobe but by some yummy fabrics I saw yestereday in Gala Fabrics in Vancouver.  They have a sale on (25 - 50%) and oh my the silks, silk/linen/cotton sweater knits, wools and silk/wool combinations are better than a chocolate sundae.  I am disciplining myself - no new fabric until the current stash is depleted.  Dye-sew, dye-sew.  I am off and running.  Thanks again to both of you for your super assistance.  Scrubble4

    1. KharminJ | | #5

      Do you have a 'burn chart'?

      I hadn't even thought about the probability that you have "unknown fabric content", too ~ adds to the adventure of it, eh?

      There's a couple of  terrific "burn charts" out there somewhere - but the bookmarks were on my old computer - maybe someone can find 'em?  There was a whole thread on the previous incarnation of this Forum, too...

      Happy Dye-Sew-ing, in the meantime!  K

  4. fiberball | | #6

    Old thread but since I found it in search no doubt others have run accross it looking for answers as well so Ill provide a resource that was extremely helpful to me. The guide here  https://craftandleisure.com/best-fabric-dye-564/ basically explains that the dye choice is heavily dependent on fabric choice. Long story short, cotton is best dyed with reactive dyes.

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