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Setting Indigo Dye

Mariesews | Posted in General Discussion on

I just returned from a trip to China as a nanny for my grandson…my daughter said that she would organize the conference for women, “only if my mother can come along as nanny.” And I said, Only if my husband can come along. We had a great time! He helped me buy fabrics, so many more than are available to me in Nebraska and Iowa!

One thing that I noticed is that many middle class women still pick out their fabric and then have a tailor make their garments. So refreshing to see so many different designs. I had a Chinese-style jacket made from red silk brocade, and now I know what real customizing is all about.

Anyway, to the point: I picked up several pieces of cotton, from Southern China, that I think is dyed with indigo. Anyway, just looking at the material causes my hands to turn blue. I was in a shop where NO ONE spoke English, so I am not quite sure HOW to SET the DYE. Any suggestions? I know that it must be done, this is an indigenous technique…the cotton cost as much per meter as did the silk!!! (see blue cotton attachments)

Speaking of silk…I decided this would be the only time that I could afford real silk to make a “curves” quilt, as in “Fear Not the Curve” Threads #106…so here I was in this wonderful shop trying to find five silks, ended up with a red/navy print, solids of red, navy, yellow, and green…I’ve made one of these quilts (see attachment) to cover my machine, but haven’t had the courage to cut my silk. Stay tuned.

Anyway, thanks for any suggestions for setting the dye.

PS I have never tried to attach photos before, hope they work out.


  1. Mariesews | | #1

    Here is the photo of my first Curves quilt

  2. suesew | | #2

    Beautiful fabrics. But I couldn't see the picture of the quilt. For the dye setting information I would call Dharma Trading Co. 800-542-5227 and explain what you have and what you need to do. They are very knowledgeable and helpful. I just got their new catalog and it's fun reading it. They have an interesting web site also. Happy dyeing.

  3. SewTruTerry | | #3

    What beautiful fabrics I am jealous. First of all there are lots of commercial dye setting solutions out there but because you have such a white area of non dyed material take it slow and test with scraps of material for effect on the white areas as well as shrinkage. To find some of those dye setting solutions I would recommend going on line and typing in fabric dyeing and go from there with purchasing.

    1. Mariesews | | #4

      I called Dharma Trading and after discussing my fabrics with them, they suggested one of two products, so I bought theirs...cost more to ship than to buy!

      I still have to wash the material first to get out obvious excess dye, and then will use the "fixative" to prevent further bleeding, etc.

      Thanks for suggestions, I will let you know the outcome.

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