Friday 9 August 2019

Dyed & Printed Skirt part 1

Dyed & Printed Skirt part 1

This month on the Colourcraft blog, the theme is Paint & more paint. As a textile artist, I am going to focus on dyeing and printing fabric. I fancy a new skirt so am going to dye some fabric, make the skirt and then print a pattern on it to create a unique garment for me!

First I experiment with the ColourcraftProcion complete starter pack. This contains lots of items, including six colours and products to enable the use of these colours. It also comes with lots of instructions for different methods and techniques, including both dying and printing.
Procion dyes, which belong to the dichlorotriazine class of fibre reactive dyes are the most popular type of dye for hand-dyeing cellulose plant fibres. Cellulose fibres are the fibres that are produced naturally from plants, such as cotton and linen. They can also be used for protein-based fibres. Protein fibres include all fibres obtained from animals, they also include the insect-derived fibre, silk.
I am using a roll of gifted fabric that, to be honest, I don’t know what the fibre content is! It seems like curtain lining to me and my guess is it has quite a lot of cotton in. However, Colourcraft says you can use their Procion dyes for polyester/cotton mixes, but to expect lighter shades. So let my experimentation begin!

I decided to use the Magenta (MX-8G) dye to dye the cream fabric.

First remember to weigh the dry fabric. It is the dry weight you use to calculate how much of the “dye ingredients” to use.
However you do need to first wash rinse and spin the fabric before adding it damp to the dye bath. Colsperse is a detergent designed for rinsing Procion MX dyes from fabrics. It can also be used for cleansing the fabric before dyeing. I hadn’t got any, so used a regular non-bio detergent both on the cream cloth initially, and to wash the fabric after dying.

Apart from my washing machine, the only other items I needed were a measuring jug (fine to use my kitchen one as it is just used to measure tap water), a bucket, some kitchen salt, an empty clean jam jar and a stick. Oh, I did use my preserving thermometer (again just used for the water stage) but I don’t think you really need a thermometer.

I had 500g of dry weight of the fabric and chose to use the “traditional/exhaust dying” instructions that came with the Procion complete starter pack. This has a clear table to help you calculate how much of each of the “dye ingredients” to use.

For 500g of fabric the instructions said to use 10 litres of water. (2l for every 100g of dry fabric weight). However, I realised as I was measuring the water into the bucket that if I had 10 litres of water there wouldn’t be space to put the fabric into the bucket without a great mess! So, I only used 8 litres of water and calculated the “dye ingredients” to use based on the water volume, rather than my fabric weight. I guess this would mean a paler colour, but I wasn’t really particular as to how deep a pink the fabric turned out. I also wanted to make do with the size bucket I had!
So I had tepid water (measured 40 °C) using a kettle of boiled water and the rest cold from the tap. This feels comfortably warm to feel, not hot.

To this I added the recommended amount of salt ie. 240g (60g per 2 litres of water) and stirred well with the stick to dissolve the salt in the water.
Salt aids in the dyeing process by helping to drive the dye into the fibre, out of the dye solution.
The kit comes with a little pot of PDV salt, but not enough for the amount of water and fabric I had. But do you need to use PDV salt for dying? PDV salt is Pure Dried Vacuum Salt, a fine white free flowing salt that’s 99.9% pure.
Many advise Table salt is fine for dyeing, especially if it's non-iodized, but sea salt is not a good choice because of the minerals in it. Some will say use any salt!
I think it all depends on how precise you want your dyeing to be. If you are happy to go with roughly what you are aiming for rather than getting upset on the exact shade, then that effects your choice.
However, Finer grains of salt will dissolve more easily than larger grains.

At this stage I put on the blue gloves that are provided with the kit and my black apron that I didn’t mind if I got some dye on. This is the stage you need to make sure you have a clear work surface and take care to avoid ingestion, inhalation and skin and eye contact with the dye. Don’t use anything that will come into contact with food from now on.

I calculated I would need all the 10g pot of Magenta (MX-8G) dye powder. I wanted a pastel shade (for which 1-3grams of dye powder are recommended for each 100g of fabric and 2litres of water). I carefully stirred this into the salty water in the bucket. Then I added the damp, washed cream fabric, pressing it down with my gloved hands. (sorry no photo as used both hands!)

This was left for half an hour. I did come and stir it around a little with the stick a couple of times, but again I didn’t bother too much as I didn’t mind some variation of dying.

I then weighed 40g of fixer (soda ash) from the bag in the Procion complete starter pack. This was calculated from the guidance of 10g per 2 litres of water for a pastel shade. I put this in my clean jam jar, added a little hot water and the lid and shook it till the soda ash powder was dissolved.
At this stage I was glad there was a second pair of hands around as you need to add the fixer solution to the dye bucket and stir it in, without pouring the fixer solution directly onto the fabric. I lifted the by now pink fabric just out of the fluid with my gloved hands, so my helper could pour in the fixer solution from the jam jar and give it a stir. I then re submerged the fabric in the bucket and left it for 45 minutes – I removed my gloves, washed my hands and went and had my lunch!

After lunch, I put on gloves, took the bucket to the sink and carefully removed the pink fabric into the sink. I used several batches of cold water to rinse lots of pink dye solution.
I poured a little of the dye into a couple of clean jam jars to further experiment with and then poured the rest away down the drain. I could then use my empty bucket to transfer the dyed cloth to the washing machine. It then had a hot, 60
°C, wash, rinse and spin before being hung outside to dry.

On the line I could see some variegation of dying, creating to me pleasing patterns. What do you think?

To get non-variegated dying, I guess I would have had to use less fabric or a larger bucket/dye bath and move the fabric around more during the process so no areas were left out of the solution for long.

So I will blog again in a fortnight when I have had time to make my skirt from the dyed fabric. I will be using more of the Colourcraft Procion complete starter pack to print a design on the pink skirt. Now to choose what colour(s) to use. What do you think?

Helen x


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