Best dye option to avoid shrinking a silk garment?
  • I want to dye a silk dress, and am very concerned about avoiding shrinkage. The dress is a light, smooth fabric of the sort often called "China silk." It's currently pale blue, and I'm aiming for an intense emerald green. So, the best products and methods for that color would require enough heat to potentially shrink the dress. What is my best option?

    Thanks!

    Jax
  • Hi Jax,

    You are right, the best dye for silk would be the Acid Dyes which require a fair amount of heat to properly set. Alternatively you could use the Procion MX dyes which need much less heat - you could get away with warm tap water. While most instructions call for the use of vinegar and heat when using the Procion MX with silk, I have successfully used cooler water with soda ash when dyeing silk with Procion MX.
    Two things to keep in mind - first, if you use the P. MX with soda ash you'll want to rinse very well and then give the garment a vinegar soak after the final rinse. A 1/2 cup white vinegar in a gallon of water is sufficient to off set the high pH of the soda ash (which is reported to be hard on silk - though I have no personal experience with any problems). It really only needs a good five minutes or so in the vinegar water. Then of course you'll want to give the garment a final wash and rinse to remove the smell of the vinegar. Second, keep in mind that the Procion MX color results are shown as dyed on cotton. Some of those colors will shift somewhat on silk and other protein fibers and that shift might be significant. I did take a look at my personal swatches and do see that both the Emerald (094) and Bright Green (097) in the Procion MX shift to a much lighter almost grassy or limey green.
    You might be able to find a green that will give you what you want, but I would recommend doing a test before using in on your dress (perhaps you might want to invest in a 1/2 yard of Habotai/China Silk for testing).

    Hope this helps!
    annette