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I have four organic cotton king-sized sheets in "ivory" and I want to dye them a solid color using the washing machine. I don't feel strongly that the dye job should be perfect but I'd rather avoid the sheets bleeding out over other stuff in the wash later on. I've done a bunch of research on this on DharmaTraders.com and I gather I have two options:

•"iDye" prepackaged dye + fixative
•Procion dye + salt + soda ash

DharmaTraders says "iDye" is not very color-fast. We wash all our linens together on hot, so I figured it might not be a good option.

-->Have you used "iDye" and would you concur with this opinion?

DharmaTraders also recommends adding a number of extra ingredients to the Procion recipe in order to get a more uniform, more intense, and/or more lasting color. The ingredients are:
•urea for brightening and fixing the color
•special detergent for pre- and post-washing
•calsolene oil for more uniform color

They also recommend that you premix the dye and then pour it through a cloth filter.

The urea, detergent, and oil come in large packages compared to the amount I would use for this one project, and I'm not planning to make this a regular hobby, and I don't want to have extra chemicals lying around forever. So I'm wondering how important they are. Do you use them? Why or why not?


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 16th, 2009 06:08 am (UTC)
I've never even heard of this iDye business before, but I have a reasonable amount of experience with Procion dyes. They have been known to bleed in cases where I leave them in the machine wet too long, but not after the first wash or two otherwise. Rit Color Remover generally gets rid of the bled color, though it has sometimes had a strange effect on the original color too.

I don't use calsolene oil, never have, don't think my dyeing buddies have.

We have tried the carcinogenic detergent and found a recent wash and a soak in the hot soda ash solution seems just as good. Actually, the hot soda ash (aka washing soda) solution is great for removing stains, especially the yellowish discoloration that can come to t-shirts and linens after much use.

I do use urea, and have never tried Procion dyeing without it. It's cheap, especially if you buy locally at an art supply store instead of paying to ship it, and extra seems like it should be Freecyclable. (I guess a person could theoretically use it as a nitrogen-only plant fertilizer if growing N-lovers like tomatoes or corn, but I haven't tried that.)

Oh, and I've never filtered the dye and never had trouble with spotting. That kind of thing might depend on the color; I've used a good variety but not all of them.
Oct. 16th, 2009 11:02 am (UTC)
I've used procion dye for dying small batches of silk. I've never used urea, calsolene oil, filtering or special detergent, and the colours I've gotten have looked really great - vivid as a punch in the eye, no need for extra brightening! Of course, I've not run them through the washing machine since then either, so make of that what you will.
Oct. 16th, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)
working with procion
I have used the urea, but I've been doing smaller batches, not in the washing machine (it's a public laundry room, and it seemed antisocial to use dyes in shared machines, given that I wasn't sure it wouldn't leave the next n loads a random shade of blue or purple).

I did buy their special silk detergent, but that was because I was starting with their undyed fabrics, which they warn may have bits of stuff still stuck to them and are best washed before dyeing. That's probably not an issue in your case, and with cotton.

For intensity, they also recommend ordinary (non-iodized) salt for hand-dyeing. I'm not sure how much difference it makes (the purple still came out more lavender than amethyst), but it's cheap and readily available.

[edited to add explanatory subject line]

Edited at 2009-10-16 11:35 am (UTC)
Oct. 16th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
I skipped all
•urea for brightening and fixing the color
•special detergent for pre- and post-washing
•calsolene oil for more uniform color

I'm experimenting and didn't want to have lots of chemicals, too.

I was not going for the solid color but for the wrinkle-pattern of "low water immersion dyeing" or "tray dyeing." I got Color by Accident: Low-Water Immersion Dyeing (Spiral-bound) by Ann Johnston out from San Francisco's public library via Inter Library loan -- i'll send you the links to my blog notes via FB. Oh, GRR, this blog http://fabricdyeing101.blogspot.com/ has been retired. It was great!

I also have the breathing mask and goggle for mixing up the dye. The powder is reputedly a lung irritant and with my occasional asthma i didn't want to risk anything.

I really ought to mix up some procion dyes and do some dyeing. (When!) I haven't tried my red or brown yet, a friend has given me a huge hank of yarn to dye purple....
Oct. 16th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
I have always used the Synthrapol and the urea. I tried the calsolene oil and didn't see that it made any difference.
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
This was long ago, and not organic fabric, just cotton, but I dyed some clothes with Rit in the washer and they came out great. If you're really uncomfortable with this, maybe you'll find someone who will do it for you.
Oct. 17th, 2009 03:48 pm (UTC)
I think I just followed their recipes and used all the ingredients. The colors didn't fade much and did not bleed at all. Maybe it would've worked fine without the urea etc.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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