Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Silk dyeing with acid dyes

I love to dye silk.  The type of silk will affect your results. Organza and chiffon will have a soft subtle look. Dupioni will be bright and sharp. Some silk says dry clean only, fabric may "crock". I don't pay attention to this as the added texture does not both me. The Dupioni I used below had this warning.

Silk can be dyed beautifully with Procion MX dyes, but can easily be dyed with acid dyes as well. Don't worry about the word acid, it only involves white vinegar.

Acid dyes work on silks and wools. If you want to buy wool yarn and dye it yourself or make it a variegated yarn, acid dyes are for you.  While Procion MX will dye silk, it does not dye wool.

Here is my supply list for acid dyeing:
Pot, must be enamel or stainless steel
Acid dye
Silk and/or wool fabric/fibers (should be dampened with tap water)
White vinegar
Metal tongs or some type of stirring utensil

If you want to do shibori, add cotton twine and a long glass bottle to the list.

Any item used for dyeing should never be used for food.


First I pour white vinegar over my fabric, just enough to squeeze it through the whole fabric. I will often do this in the sink, and will squeeze the vinegar in my current piece onto the next piece I am going to be adding vinegar to, to reduce waste. This may be more vinegar than I really need to get the dye to absorb into the fabric, but I don't want to have too little.

You can tie up the fabrics if you want to create a pattern. For this set, I am scrunching one piece of Dupioni silk longways and tying it with string. I am using another piece of Dupioni to do shibori on a glass bottle.


Scrunched and tied

For bottle shibori, wrap fabric (slightly loose) around the bottle, this fabric piece is slightly wider than the bottle and about 24" long.

Wrap the string around once and knot it, then start wrapping string around the bottle.  Once you have a couple inches wrapped you need to start twisting and pushing the fabric toward the bottom of the bottle. Continue wrapping and scrunching.

When you get to the top, tie off the string. I then push the fabric towards the bottom as much as I can.
 Here I have my fabric condensed as much as possible.

I also have some felt I bought at a thrift store that I am hoping is wool.  I put vinegar on these as well.
 
 In the enamel or stainless pot, you want to heat water. I filled my pot about 3/4 full. I have already mixed the dye powder with some water, using all my standard safety precautions as I would for Procion MX dyes(posted previously). Once it is near boiling, I add the dye.  I stir my dye bath to mix in the dye, then add my fabrics.  I would not recommend filling the pot as full as I have it shown here. If the water boils and starts splattering, dye goes everywhere.  It does wipe off, but makes a giant mess in the meantime. I try to keep my water at a simmer or slightly less than that, to avoid the splatter affect. 



The fabric stays in the dye bath like this for a half an hour. Stir occasionally. Then take it off the heat and let it cool. Remove the fabric and rinse until it runs clear. It will rinse clear much more quickly than Procion dyed fabrics do.

I am using black dye because I need black felt.  My plan is to over dye the dupioni silks in a Procion MX dye batch after this (along with some cotton fabrics I plan to dye).

So what other things get dyed that required vinegar? Easter eggs! Easter egg dye is an acid dye.  When Easter rolls around if you want to buy Easter egg dye and use it to dye silks or wools it totally works. I have used Easter egg dye pills to dye wool roving.  Don't turn up the heat too high as you do not want the roving to felt during the dye process.  I did use a pot of water but tucked the dye pills into the roving which gave me a variegated look.

If you want a really good variegated or multicolor look to your yarn or fabric, using the store bought acid dyes and the steam method would be better than the boiling method. Sometime I will show that as well.

The nice thing about acid dyes is it only takes a 1/2 hour. The fabrics will get washed once in the washer on warm but they don't have a lot of excess dye in them.  Since I plan to over dye the dupioni pieces, they won't even go in the wash machine, but will go straight in the Procion MX dye batch.

Here are the Dupioni pieces after the acid dyeing. I love the shibori piece and have decided not to over dye it.




 Here is the scrunched/acid dyed piece after it was scrunched again and put in a Procion MX dye bath.

I cut off the solid white part from the shibori piece and put it in the Procion MX dye batch as well. 



Here is the wool. Obviously the orange one is not wool.  One, it did not take the dye. Two, it did not smell like wet dog when it was wet.  If you have ever felted a wool sweater, you know what I am talking about. The yellow one may not be wool either as you can still see the yellow showing through, but it did take some dye (but does not smell like wet dog either).


Since I had my dye pot out I decided to try out the "i-dye" that is for Polyester fabrics.  I'll post about that tomorrow.

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