Help with immersion dying
  • It seems like I my washer had some residue dye left in it after dying using the procion MX dyes...I now have flecks of unwanted color on my project. Any suggestions?
    Also, I'm dying cotton/lycra unitards...should I have used acid dyes? Can I dye over the MX dyes with the acid dyes, or will that make a huge mess?
  • It seems like I my washer had some residue dye left in it after dying using the procion MX dyes...I now have flecks of unwanted color on my project. Any suggestions?
    Also, I'm dying cotton/lycra unitards...should I have used acid dyes? Can I dye over the MX dyes with the acid dyes, or will that make a huge mess?


    If you wash out your Procion MX garments in the same washing machine you dye them in, immediately after you finish the dyeing, and wipe out any drops that may have splashed above the water line, there should be no problems with stains appearing on future projects or laundry. It takes several washings to get the extra dye out of the fabric after dyeing with Procion MX dye—I like to do one washing in cool water and than at least two in hot—so any residual dye in the washer is long gone before the project is done. There should never be any problem with residual dye from washing items first dyed outside the machine, either. Some dyers like to follow a load of dyeing with a load of rags that need to be bleached, to allow the bleach to additionally clean the washing machine, but I don't, and have had no problems.

    Flecks of unwanted color? Are they red dots (or orange dots on a yellow ground, or purple dots on a blue ground)? If so, you may have run into the infamous red spot problem. To avoid unwanted flecks of color, you must take greater care to dissolve your dye before use, by pasting it up in a small amount of water before dissolving it in a larger amount, then, if necessary, filter your dye solution through a piece of old nylon stocking. (Filtering is a pain.) Often the best resort is to buy a new batch of dye, as the whole problem (assuming that you've dissolved your dye properly to begin with) can sometimes be due to a bad batch of dye.

    It is best not to try acid dyes to dye the lycra (spandex) in cotton/lycra clothing. Although spandex can in theory be dyed with acid dyes, the temperatures needed may distort the shape of the fiber. Fortunately, good results are nearly always easy to obtain by dyeing just the cotton in a cotton/spandex blend. The spandex threads are usually completely covered by the cotton in the blend. Procion MX dye is an excellent choice for dyeing the cotton in a cotton/lycra blend, since it does not require high temperatures that can damage the spandex. Acid dyes will not work on cotton at all and are not needed when dyeing cotton/lycra blend garments. If your Procion MX dyes did not work satisfactorily, you need to troubleshoot what went wrong: did you remember to use soda ash to fix the dye? Did you carefully follow the instructions? Did you prewash your garments before attempting to dye them? These are the usual questions to ask yourself.

    Paula
  • thanks...I think probably the dye did not properly dissolve...and I did not run a load in between switching colors. So, that being said, how do I now get the color darker to cover the spots? Redo the whole process with more dye, less water and longer agitation?
  • Re-dyeing the garment in a darker color will probably help even things out, but not neccessarily cover the red spots. Those spots will mix with the color added on top--so factor that in when choosing a color for over-dyeing.

    Paula--do you have any suggestions or tips?

    Noelle
  • Just as you say, the dark spots are going to show through, unless you overdye with an extremely dark, intense color.

    One woman who wrote to me with this problem tried Color Remover in an attempt to salvage her load of dyed items, but the results were not good. The dyes in question did not discharge satisfactorily. Some dyes just can't be fully discharged.

    A good alternative, if your project allows, is to create a design on the fabric that distracts from the dots, rather than attempting to create a smooth single color over all. Consider low water immersion dyeing, in which dyes are applied in such as way as to create different colors in an abstract pattern on the fabric. The results are subtler than tie dyeing. You can use a single color, or several colors together; a nice variation is to begin with a premixed color and see what different colors emerge as the dye spreads across the fabric. Or, consider tie-dyeing or hand painting.

    Paula