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how to keep dye from running?

visualize | Posted in General Discussion on

I would like information/ advice on keeping dye from running. I have just spent days ripping apart a 60’s  silk dress (I now have yards of crinoline to add to my stash) so I can reuse the fabric for a shirt. At the waist I discovered bleeding I assumed from perspiration. There are also a few yellowed age stains. I took the fabric to a dry cleaner and they did a test and said the dye would bleed and they would not dry clean it. I have cut the bodice into small pieces and done 3 tests. First I hand washed with shampoo: result the turquoise bled into the white background. Second  I dipped fabric into vinegar(white): result much less bleeding. Third I dipped fabric in vinegar and salt mixture: result even less bleeding-but the turquoise makes the white background white look greyed.

There’s this product by Carbona called “Dye Grabber” anyone ever tried it? What do you think about putting the fabric in the washer with a gallon of vinegar and a cup of salt and agitating a few minutes with this dye grabber product? Thanks for your help.



  1. katina | | #1

    I'm wondering about the state of the silk....silk of that age might 'shatter', meaning it will begin to shred. Can you test a small piece in the washer first?


  2. BernaWeaves | | #2

    You can't.  If the dye's going to run, it's going to run.  It may not have been set / locked into the fiber when it was originally dyed.  There's no good way to set it after the fact.

    Silk and wool take dye very well, and should not bleed at all, so it sounds like your fabric was not well dyed.  Vinegar, salt and heat (hot water) are how you normally set protein dyes, but that's for a solid color at the time it is originally dyed.  If you have more than one color in the same fabric, you're going to get bleeding before it sets, and then no way to undo it.



    Edited 7/15/2008 3:08 pm ET by BernaWeaves

  3. MarshaK | | #3

    I use a product called Shout Color Catcher whenever I buy new fabrics and give them a wash. Very successfully I have had several different colors and types of fabrics in the same load and non have transfered their color to any others. The color catcher sheet shows which colors have bled as it collects those colors. I now need to find a use for all these colored sheets. Have you thought of contacting the Textile department of any local museum or Historical Society, I'm sure they can advise you on how to set the color and preserve the fabric.  Marsha.

  4. Teaf5 | | #4

    I doubt that you can remove the dye that has bled already, but maybe you can overdye the whole thing to make a new look.

    I also doubt that the dye would bleed if dry-cleaned.  More likely, the drycleaner doesn't want to take a chance on dealing with fabric that is known to be problematic; professionally, they'd have to guarantee success, and you've proven that they probably can't achieve it.

    Although I love challenges and recycling vintage fabrics, I agree with the other poster that this piece may not be worth a lot of effort because it is unlikely to wear very long.  Maybe you could re-purpose it into a decorator item that won't get as much wear and tear as a blouse or garment would.

  5. katina | | #5

    Teaf5 suggests you repurpose the fabric - good idea. You could create new garment fabric by backing the silk with something fine - you could stitch the silk to it in some sort of random stitching, and then assemble your garment. Or use a heavier backing to make the fabric into cushions. Or perhaps a handbag? evening bag? It's a challenge!

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