Leaking dye - iDye on Cotton
  • Hi all,

    I dyed cotton for blindfolds (my hula hoop group does meditative blindfolded hooping) and I picked iDye because I wanted a variety of colors, and it seemed a good way to get a variety of small batches.

    Problem is, I have yet to get them to rinse clear! They are still leaking dye - especially the purple. Now, I am putting a liner in these, but we sweat a lot - and it is going to bleed into the liner.

    Is there anything I can do to fix the color? Preferably soon - I'm supposed to serge them this weekend, and that includes the liner.

    I was thinking I might have to seal them with textile medium, before I put the liner on, but I'm not even sure if that will work!


  • iDye is a kind of direct dye; direct dyes are known for being less washfast than fiber reactive dyes such as Procion MX dye.

    A solution to the problem of direct dye's bleeding is to use a cationic dye fixative, such as Retayne, to glue the dye in place. This is a much better solution than fabric medium, because it will not alter the feel of the fabric. It's also more economical than fabric medium, since you need only a small amount per washing machine load or bucketful of clothing. Sometimes you can find Retayne at a local quilting supply store; if not, you could overnight-order it, or the very similar product Dharma Dye fixative, from Dharma Trading Company.

    The next time you want a great many different colors of dye, I would suggest that you buy a good tie-dyeing kit and mix the colors yourself. The standard turquoise-magenta-yellow tie-dye kit can easily be used to mix a huge range of colors, including red, green, olive, violet, orange, navy, royal blue, and brown.

  • Oh Argh - I saw that kit *right* in front of me, and passed since I figured it would be easier to dye straight color than to mix.

    These are blindfolds, and although I am lining them with undyed cotton, from the links in your post, it looks like both Retayne (contains formaledhyde) and the basic dye are both too toxic for me to use for that purpose. Eyeskin is too sensitive. I will have to use the fabric for something else - its no longer suitable for my purpose. Sigh.

    My only decision now is whether to throw good money after bad and re-buy the procion dye, or cut my losses and paint blindfolds. I was planning to paint details on them anyway - I just thought it would be faster to dye the base color.

    Thanks for the help - the links you posted are very valuable info, especially since I am *always* dying cottons with supermarket dye and now I know better - the knowledge was worth it, even if all that dye I bought was not.

    Thanks again!
  • Retayne is the same as the fixatives ordinarily used on a lot of commercially-dyed clothing. Like most of them, it contains a tiny fractional percentage of formaldehyde. You've undoubtedly bought clothing finished with formaldehyde many times without ever knowing it. If ordinary clothing purchased from the store does not bother you, it's not something to worry about. Wash Retayne-fixed fabric before use, just as you do with any commercially-dyed fabric. Don't pour undiluted Retayne on your skin, and work with adequate ventilation, and you should be fine.

    Basic dye (also known as cationic dye) is a type of dye that is difficult to find and unsuitable for dyeing cotton, so I doubt whether its safety is of any relevance to you. I'm sure you did not see any in the store or in a catalog you're likely to be buying your dyes from. Don't confuse basic dye with "basic colors" of other types of dyes, which would just be the most commonly used colors for mixing.

    If you wash your direct-dyed items in warm enough water—soak in hot water only if nothing else works—you will get out enough of the excess dye that the dye will stop bleeding in cool water. They might end up a lighter color. That's a lot better than being unable to use them at all.

  • Hi Paula,

    I've been soaking them in hot water for three days to no avail. A cold water rinse stops the bleeding, but in hot water they start again - these blindfolds are going to be subjected to sweat and heat, so they really need a fixative.

    By basic dye I meant the iDye - sorry for the confusion.

    Thanks for the info on the retayne. Upon further thought - I think I will use the retayne and at least salvage what I've got - I am using undyed liners, which is more than I can say for the commercial sleep masks we've been using.

    Many thanks!