Friday, June 26, 2009

How To Tie Dye

1. Fold and/or tie the fabric into the desired patterns. The designs will be more defined if you wet the shirt and squeeze or spin out excess water before folding.

2. Wear your dust mask and dissolve 1 cup (8 ounces) of soda ash fixer per gallon of warm water. Soak the tied garments about 5-15 minutes (until saturated). Reuse solution until gone. Squeeze out excess so garment is just damp, not dripping.

3. Using your dust mask and gloves, combine water with all chemicals except dye. Add liquid to dye gradually, pasting up to avoid lumps. Apply dye with squeeze bottles, paint brushes, sponges, etc., as many colors as you want. Easiest to use a funnel to pour dissolved dye into squeeze bottles.

Dye Formula:

8 oz. cup of warm water
(not hot, body temperature)

2 to 8 teaspoons of Procion dye
Some colors are noted with * on
the Procion dye page
(Colors with no * = 2 teaspoons)
(One * = 4 teaspoons)
(Two ** = 8 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon Urea
(dissolve in hot water first).

1/4 teaspoon water softener
(if needed)

Sodium Alginate Thickener
(A little to slow spreading, and control color, if desired.)

4. Put fabric (still tied) in a plastic bag (the idea is to keep it wet and chemically active - any method of keeping it wet is O.K.) and let sit for at least 4 hours but preferably 24 hours to "cure". Shorter times work better in summer, and longer times are needed when it is cold.

5. Remove from bag and while still tied, rinse off the excess dye under cold running water (faucet, hose or shower), then rinse in warmer water while you untie and after garments are untied, until water runs fairly clear. Have your washing machine pre-filled with hot water with Synthrapol or professional textile detergent and throw in the clothing as soon as it is rinsed, running it through a full cycle.

Variations & Helpful Hints:
Dye shirt a solid color first using Tub Dyeing Method, then tie dye using above method.

After step 4, untie and re-tie in contrasting pattern.

After tie dyeing item, re-tie and use Discharge paste to bleach out a contrasting pattern.

Sprinkle pure Procion powder onto tied and pre-soaked item for different effect (super intense color. Use a salt shaker with lots of salt and some dye for a lighter application)

Put a small amount of sodium alginate thickener into dye mixture (step 3) to slow down the rate that the dye spreads and to create sharper edges.

In step 4 any method keeping the fabric wet is OK, needn't be a plastic bag - cover many with plastic drop cloth, wrap in plastic wrap, etc. The warmer the temperature where you lay out your tie-dyes to cure, the quicker the chemical reaction.

Use water softener if you suspect you have "hard" water.

DON'T USE HOT WATER. The dyes work best in warm water (105 degrees F) except #25, which can be used slightly warmer. #250 does like hot water and doesn't do well for tie-dye.

Urea helps dye to dissolve, so dissolve the Urea in water first. Add this water to the dye powder gradually and paste it up to avoid lumps. Undissolved dye makes "explosions" of color or "freckles", so if a color is difficult to dissolve, straining through some light fabric might be necessary. Coffee filters only work if the dye is really liquid. Otherwise, they filter out too much of the dye.

If you have trouble making a paste of the colors, a little calsolene oil can help because it breaks the surface tension.

Squirt bottles are mechanically mass produced and once in awhile we get some that leak. A couple of wraps of that very inexpensive (60¢) thin white stretchy plumber's tape, that is available at any hardware store, around the threads solves this problem perfectly. No tie-dyer should be without it.

Cover your work surfaces with old newspapers or folded paper towels to absorb extra dye. Wear old clothes. After applying dye to one side, flip garment over and repeat the process. Inject the tip of the squeeze bottle into the folds for best dye penetration and less white on the final product.

With this dye, there is always lots of "excess dye" to be washed out. Don't crowd your washing machine with too much tie dye or the water gets too muddy and so will your tie dyes. Delicate items like rayon and silk are better hand washed or should go into a mesh bag on a gentle cycle so the agitation doesn't shred them.

Explanation of the Chemical Processes Involved in Tie Dyeing:
Fiber reactive dyes attach permanently to cellulose fibers using a covalent (electron-sharing) bond. These molecules carry a "chromophore" which absorb varying spectra of the light, allowing only certain spectra to reflect.

Covalent bonding is one of the most basic and strongest types of chemical reactions. This reaction happens gradually over time depending on temperature and/or the Ph level of the surrounding environment.

The Soda Ash pre-soak raises the pH level of the garment or fabric to approximately 10.5. Raising the pH level of the solution that the fabric or garment is soaked in raises the level of negative hydrogen ions in the dyeing environment. The chemical bonding process uses these ions in the reaction. Pre-soaking in soda ash fixer solution is what allows the fiber reactive dyes to work at room temperature.

The reaction can also be aided with heat. Some tie dyers have had success with using baking soda and microwaving their dyed articles. Since baking soda is a weaker alkali than soda ash, it must be accompanied by heat. Some people who are "chemically sensitive" choose to use this method.

The dye is allowed to react in a desirable host environment for up to 24 hours. After this time, the bonding sites on the cellulose should be saturated with dye molecules. Excess dye molecules that have not bonded permanently are washed away using warm water rinse and a dye-carrying detergent like Synthrapol.


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