New to acid dying and have a lot of beginning (and very specific) questions
  • Hi, I'm doing research on dying 8mm habotai silk to make kanzashi for a friend's wedding in September, and I wanted to make sure I got everything right before I start investing money on the fabric, dyeing supplies, and pots for it.

    So here are my questions (some are pretty specific--I'm anal like that)

    1. I know that the dye will stick to the fabric and won't stick to stainless steel since that's what was recommended for stovetop immersion dyeing. If the dye water should spill on, say, the stove, or the floor (laminate tile) would it stain?

    2. For those of you who have done stovetop dyeing, how do you handle the fabric, which after it's "cooked" for a half hour is the temperature of simmering water? Do you let it sit in the dye water until it's cool enough to handle (does that make the color too dark?), or would you transfer it to a bowl for example, let it cool, and wring it out?

    3. In connection with question 2, would you do an afterwash in Synthrapol after the fabric has been wrung out as much as possible, then immersed in the Synthrapol/water mixture? Or would you transfer the still-dripping fabric to the wash? Would that decrease the effectiveness of the wash if dye water got into it?

    4. Does the dye water stain your hands? (Does the powder dye your hands?) Is the Synthrapol (diluted in water) safe to touch? If you have to wear gloves, what type? (I ask this because I don't want something on the gloves getting onto the fabric and creating and uneven dye) Are latex gloves, fine, or is rubber better?

    5. How do you get rid of the dye water? (kitchen sink, toilet, direct sewer line? Will the dye water stain the toilet?) And how do you get rid of the Synthrapol mixture?

    6. I'm trying to make a pale to medium pink and orange (a strong orange, but not dark)for sakura blossoms and Japanese maple leaves. Would using pink and deep orange work?

    7. Argh, the huge scales of this stuff! All of these measurements are for one pound of fabric, and unless I'm going to make two to three kimono out of this fabric, I'm not going to need 12 yards of anything, let alone habotai silk. I would need 1-2 yards for each color, which puts things down to a very minute scale. I did my own conversions (1.5 yds is about 1/8 lb, which if I were to use about 4% of that weight for the amount of dye, would require about 1/8 tsp of dye) but I have no idea if these measurements are correct. I don't want to end up with a super bright pink just because I didn't calculate my decimals correctly. Any help with this?

    8. For the Synthrpol, it says to use 1/4 cup for every "washing machine load." So what does that mean for stovetop? 1/4 of a load? Less? Here we go with the small measurements again...

    9. Does dyeing work better or worse if you have one large piece of fabric, or will cutting it up into smaller pieces ensure that all of it is getting an even amount of dye?

    10. I read that using wooden chopsticks is good for stirring the fabric. Is that true? Won't the wood stain? If it does, will it transfer color?

    11. Using citric acid powder instead of vinegar--yay or nay? When would you add the powder?

    Sorry about all the questions, but I wanted to get all of this out of the way before I make any decisions. If all goes well, this is something that I would definitely get into! And if I'm successful with small batches, hey, I might actually make a hand dyed kimono down the road. With thicker silk, of course!

    Thanks!

     

    Andrea
  • alewis said:
    1. I know that the dye will stick to the fabric and won't stick to stainless steel since that's what was recommended for stovetop immersion dyeing. If the dye water should spill on, say, the stove, or the floor (laminate tile) would it stain?
    It's easiest to answer just one question per post.

    Most textile dyes (with the exception of basic dyes) will not stain hard surfaces such as stainless steel, enameled stovetops, or plastic (the laminate tile most likely has a melamine plastic surface). However, painted walls and wood, even painted wood, are likely to stain, and so is the grout between ceramic tiles. The tiny cracks between melamine floor tiles may also hold dye, and so will unsealed concrete.

    It is best to always cover all surfaces that are likely to be splashed with dye with a thick layer of newspapers (which you pick up immediately if anything spills) or with a sheet of plastic, such as a plastic shower curtain. Always clean up spilled dye mixtures promptly, before they can dry up, as otherwise the dried dye powder may become airborne, causing a potential for health problems if it is inhaled, and possibly resulting in stains in surprising places in the room.

    -Paula
  • alewis said:
    2. For those of you who have done stovetop dyeing, how do you handle the fabric, which after it's "cooked" for a half hour is the temperature of simmering water? Do you let it sit in the dye water until it's cool enough to handle (does that make the color too dark?), or would you transfer it to a bowl for example, let it cool, and wring it out?
    I let the fabric cool in the dyebath until it's easy to handle, then rinse out the unattached dye in lukewarm water.

    -Paula
  • alewis said:
    3. In connection with question 2, would you do an afterwash in Synthrapol after the fabric has been wrung out as much as possible, then immersed in the Synthrapol/water mixture? Or would you transfer the still-dripping fabric to the wash? Would that decrease the effectiveness of the wash if dye water got into it?
    I wash out still-dripping fabric, but I add an additional cool water rinse at first to be sure to remove all of the auxiliary chemicals and some of the excess dye.

    -Paula
  • alewis said:
    4. Does the dye water stain your hands? (Does the powder dye your hands?) Is the Synthrapol (diluted in water) safe to touch? If you have to wear gloves, what type? (I ask this because I don't want something on the gloves getting onto the fabric and creating and uneven dye) Are latex gloves, fine, or is rubber better?
    Yes, the dye water can stain your hands, and no, it's not considered a good idea to allow this to happen. You don't have to worry about any possible toxicity of the dye if you're not getting it all over your skin. Synthrapol's not horribly dangerous, but it is irritating to the skin. (So is most laundry detergent.) It's always best to wear gloves, instead of letting your materials cover your hands.

    For both the acid dyes and the Synthrapol, disposable latex or nitrile gloves are fine, but if yours tend to develop holes in them, then dishwashing-type rubber gloves are better. I've never had a problem with transferring anything to the fabric from clean or new gloves. Reusable gloves are best washed before you take them off, exactly as you would wash your hands.

    -Paula
  • alewis said:
    5. How do you get rid of the dye water? (kitchen sink, toilet, direct sewer line? Will the dye water stain the toilet?) And how do you get rid of the Synthrapol mixture?
    Most dyes are safe to dispose of with your usual household wastewater, into a septic tank or a municipal sewer system. Synthrapol is a detergent and can be disposed of the same way you dispose of the detergents you use for your laundry (i.e., down the drain).

    Check the MSDS for the dyes you're using. They should include information on disposal.

    -Paula
  • alewis said:
    7. Argh, the huge scales of this stuff! All of these measurements are for one pound of fabric, and unless I'm going to make two to three kimono out of this fabric, I'm not going to need 12 yards of anything, let alone habotai silk. I would need 1-2 yards for each color, which puts things down to a very minute scale. I did my own conversions (1.5 yds is about 1/8 lb, which if I were to use about 4% of that weight for the amount of dye, would require about 1/8 tsp of dye) but I have no idea if these measurements are correct. I don't want to end up with a super bright pink just because I didn't calculate my decimals correctly. Any help with this?
    For a pale pink, you'll need only perhaps a tenth as much dye powder as for an intense bright magenta.

    You'll need to be careful not to use more dye powder than you want, because it's so much easier to overdye something to make it darker than it is to get good results by removing dye that you've applied too intensely. What I suggest you do is make stock solutions with your dye, using enough dye that you can weigh out the dye powder easily, then dilute them one to ten (add one part dye-water to nine parts clean water).

    It's a lot easier to measure out just the amount of dye you want in liquid form. No matter how small the amount you need, you can do it easily. For highly dilute solutions, you can even repeat the dilutions, mixing one cup of your diluted dye with nine cups of water. It would be best if you could buy an inexpensive measuring cylinder intended for lab use, and some inexpensive measuring pipettes, but if you always use the same ones, you can get by just fine with glass measuring cups intended for kitchen use, even though they are less accurate.

    Always be sure to do a test using some extra fabric, so you will know if your best guesses about how much dye to use, and even which dye colors to buy, were correct.

    -Paula
  • alewis said:
    8. For the Synthrpol, it says to use 1/4 cup for every "washing machine load." So what does that mean for stovetop? 1/4 of a load? Less? Here we go with the small measurements again...
    Typically, one top-loader washing machine load contains twenty gallons of water and five to eight pounds of fabric.

    Synthrapol is surprisingly concentrated, and you can get good results even from using a very small amount of it. See my page, What is Synthrapol? You can use as much as a quarter of a cup of Synthrapol in the washing machine, or as little as four teaspoons. For washing out smaller amounts, use half a teaspoon per pound of fabric, or one milliliter for 180 grams of fabric. Or you can dilute it in a stock solution, as I recommended above for your dye, if you find it too fussy to work with such small volumes.

    9. Does dyeing work better or worse if you have one large piece of fabric, or will cutting it up into smaller pieces ensure that all of it is getting an even amount of dye?
    It is best to stir frequently to help ensure that the fabric dyes very evenly. It's easier to effectively stir several small pieces than one large one.

    10. I read that using wooden chopsticks is good for stirring the fabric. Is that true? Won't the wood stain? If it does, will it transfer color?
    If you use wood, throw it out and use a fresh one for the next color. I guess that's practical if you use the disposable restaurant type, but those are awfully short. I recommend using a long-handled plastic cooking spoon so that it does not absorb any of the dye.

    -Paula
  • I've been checking back to this thread every day this week. Thank you SO much for taking the time to answer my questions! I really, really appreciate it! Now I'm really excited to start!

    Andrea