Steam Setting Dye on Silk - How Long?
  • Hello!

    I was wondering how long I should steam set this underkimono I dyed (photo here:, since it's a bit of a bigger project than scarves yet not quite as large as silk paintings, and I haven't really seen any specific time instructions. I dyed it using Jacquard Acid Dye in Cherry Red (ignore the strange color of the collar, I'm not sure what material it was made out of and it gets covered with a removable decorative collar when worn anyway), and I plan on using a 12 inch two-rack bamboo steamer. In addition I'll be taking the sleeves off, so I can put the sleeves on one rack, and the main body in the other to cut down on bulk.

    Thank you all for your time!
  • Hi Sui,

    Thanks for writing in. Before I address the issue of how long to steam, I just want to double check your method for the application of the Acid Dye. Did you paint this on or use an immersion method of dyeing?
    If you painted the dye onto the kimono you will need to set the dye using the steam set method. The amount of time for a piece this size should be about 1.5 hours after you have achieve full temperature.
    If you dyed the piece using the stove top immersion method there will be no need to steam.

    hope this helps.
  • Thank you so much for the quick response! I did move the topic after I realized I put it under Direct Application instead of Immersion.

    I used the washing machine immersion method using instructions from If there still is no need to steam, does that mean I simply need to use a dye fixative for the bleeding? (I wore it once, and when it became a little wet with sweat at my chest area, it bled onto the lining of the outer kimono and the cotton slip worn underneath the whole ensemble.)
  • Ah, well if your water temperature was sufficiently high the dye should have fixed with the method you used. However, if it was too cool you may have some unfixed dye in the fabric. The other thing that may be going on is that there may simply be excess dye in the fabric that did not set to the fabric and was not rinsed out well. If there was still color in the water at the end of the dye process then there was excess dye which the fabric could not take up. If that is the case it will be necessary to thoroughly rinse the fabric. I suspect this may be the case as the sort of bleeding you are describing indicates that there is excess dye that didn't get rinsed out sufficiently.
    Having said all that, you might still want to steam the piece for a bit. If the dye did not set completely during the initial dye process steaming will help to set the dye. Do rinse well after the steaming as there may be excess dye and it will resolublize if it gets wet.

  • Oh that makes a lot of sense! Excess dye or unfixed dye from not being hot enough both seem really likely, and I will go ahead and take your suggestion to steam anyway.

    Should I still steam it for about an hour and a half? In addition, I was planning on washing it with Dharma Dye Fixative afterwards for additional bleed protection, and then finally with Synthrapol again.
  • I'd go ahead and steam for the hour and a half...just to be on the safe side. Your plan to use the fixative and wash again with the Synthrapol are both good plans as well.

  • Thank you very much for all your help! :) I really appreciate it, I feel a lot more confident now to steam this piece!
  • You are most welcome!!