Dyeing Small Batch Measurements (Newbie)
  • Hi Everyone!

    I am a newbie to dyeing and really excited to see what I can create! Last night I experimented with dyeing and it wasn't a success.

    I am going to be dyeing very small amounts of cotton and hemp to make braided jewelry. I am talking like .25 pounds (4 oz.) of material at a time. I have searched and searched, but have not found the measurements for smaller batches. I was wondering if anyone knew a ratio for water, soda ash, salt & dye or about how much of each I should be using for a smaller batch? I know the dye can vary for lighter/darker shades. 3 gallons of water for such a small amount of material seems like too much. When I tried doing a lighter shade of lilac last night, I was using so much dye based on the instructions that my lilac is a grape/plum.

    Also, should I be having the water be a constant 105 degrees while dyeing? Or is it just important for the soda ash and salt to be dissolved in warm temps? I see on the jar label it says cold water dyeing so I am a bit confused and I am sorry if any of my questions are stupid.
  • @candb2009

    Thanks for the question. You are right about getting the right amounts. It is easy to get the color too dark when dyeing small amounts.

    First, the temp does not need to stay at 105 the entire time, it is just that a little heat helps any dye project get deeper colors even with the cold water dyes. Heat speeds up molecules, so when you heat the water the dye molecules move around faster and bump into the fabric more and so can attach better giving you more vibrant color. That is why even when we are tie dyeing with procion mx a "cold water" dye, it is helpful to leave the closed bag with the tie dye in it in the sun so the heat can help the dye process.

    I think you could dye such small amounts in a quart or so. I will put these amounts in quarts and you can adjust as you need to. 4 quarts = a gallon so if you need half a gallon or 2 quarts just double the amount. For a gallon x 4 and so on

    directions for 1 quart of water and .25 lbs of fabric:

    Soda ash = .5 or 1/2 a tablespoon per quart
    dye = .25 or 1/4 of a teaspoon of dye for medium shades 1 teaspoon for very dark shades
    salt = 1/3 of a cup

    This is a much better place to start for you. Keep in mind you may have to adjust in order to get it exactly the way you want. The soda ash and salt should stay pretty consistent, but the amount of dye can vary to get the best shade for you.