Friday, January 28, 2011

Cleaning up

Now that you have dyed all this great colorful fabric, how do you wash it out and dry it?

Aging the fabric

The fabric and dye need to sit and “age” at least two hours, but ideally up to 24 hours. The amount of time required depends on the temperature, which should be at least 70°F (21°C). I have found that if I am working outside on a sunny day and the temperature is above 70°F, I can lay the fabrics out on the grass to dry. By the time they are dry, the color is set.  Obviously not in the snow and cold that we are having right now.

The sodium carbonate and dye have bonded and exhausted themselves, and the excess dye can be washed away. Once the dye and the sodium carbonate have mixed, they begin to lose power. You can’t reuse the dye from your samples even though it looks like it is still very intense.


I like to wash out the light colors by themselves. However, if you stay right with the fabric and don’t walk away from the washing machine between wash cycles, you can load them all together. I treat my dyed fabric like I used to treat cloth diapers. I run them through a cold water rinse cycle first, then a hot wash cycle with laundry detergent, and finally a double rinse cycle. By then all the dye is washed away. Be sure to stay close so that none of the fabrics sit wet against each other as a transfer of un-reacted dark dye against a lighter dye area will occur. This is called “back wash.”


You can add a Tablespoon or up to a 1/4 cup of Synthrapol to the wash cycle depending on how much fabric you are washing. Synthrapol is a textile detergent designed to remove grease and oils from silk and cottons, and it is also used as a pre-wash for commercial fabrics. It is designed to keep dye in suspension when washing out fabrics and helps to prevent the “Back wash” onto light colored areas. You can buy Sythrapol through the dye supply companies, and I have even seen it in stores that sell dyes and fabric.

Cleaning yourself.

There are products on the market to remove dye from your skin, but I have found the best way to get rid of dye on my hands and arms, and in many instances legs and face, is to use a scrubby sponge and a nail brush. This method basically removes a layer of derma, so I think of it as going to a beauty spa! In the tub or sink take the scrubby sponge to your body and pretend you are at an expensive spa resort where you are getting a mud scrub!!*

I hope you have enjoyed this mini lesson in dyeing fabric and are enthused to try it your self. I think you will find it very addictive. If you don’t already own my book it is a great resource and you should add it to your library. :) And remember if you order $30 or more on my website this month I am including free a packet of 48-5” cut dyed fabric squares. Such a deal. It ends January 31st!


1 comment:

Mommarock said...

Wonderful lesson. Thank you.

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