Using vinegar with Acid Dye
  • Hi! I am dyeing silk/rayon blend and would like to do several colors. After reading lots of threads I am pretty sure I need to paint the colors on and steam set. Just a couple more questions.
    In order for me to get my desired effect my fabric needs to be wet to start. Should it be hot wet? Should it be vinegar wet? Does it matter?
    Do I need vinegar at all? If so, when and how should I add it to the procedure?
    I am going to purchase a steamer. Do I let the fabric dry before I steam it? Any suggestions on drying the fabric without making a huge mess? How long do you steam the fabric for? One pass?
    Thank you for your time. I'd appreciate any suggestions you have.
  • Do you want the rayon to take the dye? If so, you need to use soda ash instead of vinegar, and use a fiber reactive dye such as Procion MX, Procion H, or Red Label Silk Color. If you are steaming, you can substitute sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) for sodium carbonate (soda ash), because bicarbonate turns to carbonate when steamed.

    Cellulose fibers such as rayon will not take acid dyes. Reactive dyes used with vinegar function exactly as though they were acid dyes, not as reactive dyes. However, silk is a versatile fiber and works fine when dyed with soda ash and fiber reactive dye, following recipes that will work for rayon.

    If you want only the silk part of your fiber blend to take the dye, leaving the rayon undyed (though possibly stained), then you can use vinegar instead of soda ash; in that case, you can use acid dye, or turn a fiber reactive dye into an acid dye by using it with vinegar.

    Whenever you use vinegar in dyeing, you may consider using citric acid instead. Both are mild acids. (Neither works for rayon.)

  • Thanks for all the info. But I still am very confused about the vinegar. When am I adding it for a steam set? Before I apply the dye? Using it at all? Will the acid dyes work without using vinegar?

    I can use this same fabric and do a solid color using the stove top method but can only achieve one color, because they all mix. (of course!)

    I want to do many colors on a single fabric. That's why I'd like to apply the dye and then steam set. Assume I am using the correct fabric for acid dyes, can you please outline the application of dye (on wet fabric?) and then steam process (on dry fabric?) If and when do I use vinegar (at all?) ????????????

    Thank you, I really appreciate the feedback.
  • Are you trying to dye both of the fibers in your rayon/silk blend, or are you just dyeing the silk, and leaving the rayon undyed (or possibly stained)?

  • Hi! I just want to dye the silk part. Don't care about the rayon. Don't care if it gets stained.
  • Here is one approach that you could take: pre-soak your scarf for half an hour in white vinegar mixed half-and-half with water, then, wearing rubber gloves, gently squeeze out excess moisture. Spread out plastic wrap on a surface, then spread your damp fabric out on the plastic wrap. Dissolve your acid dyes in hot water and apply them to your damp fabric, using an eyedropper, paintbrush, or other tool. The damp fabric will encourage the dye to spread and mix, so be careful to place colors next to each other that will look good when they meet and blend. You can wrap your freshly dyed fabric up in the plastic wrap, still damp, and steam it as you would vegetables. If you let the fabric dry before steaming, you must wrap it for steaming in paper, not plastic wrap, because moisture is required for acid dyes to bond to fabric.

    I don't see any information on how (or whether) to use acid in Jacquard's recipe for Flowable Painting. I hope that a Jacquard employee will post advice about this.

    By the way, in a silk/rayon velvet scarf, the silk is the backing, while the rayon is the plush.

  • Thank you for your suggestion. In my trials and errors I managed to use this method. I think my trouble was in the steam setting. I have a commercial steamer but I obviously didn't do that part right. That would be my last and final question. If you were using a commercial steamer, how would you go about steaming? I can't thank you enough for your suggestions and your information regarding the different fabrics. I am a pro with the procion dyes and cotton (I've been tie-dyeing for a living for 20 years now), but these acid dyes were really testing me. I guess you could say that I like to know EXACTLY how the pros do it. By the way, I could probably answer questions dealing with procion dyes if I could be of any help. I've been carrying the dye as well as the kits in my store for 15 years and have walked hundreds through successful tie-dyeing. Thanks again.
  • Dear Paula:

    I just read your replies to someone having problems with dyeing their silk. I hadn't heard about soaking the silk in 1/2 vinegar/1/2 water and then mixing hot water w/the acid dyes to apply on the silk; then wrapping in the plastic wrap and steaming. I just posted a note regarding all the problems I've had this past month, getting the colors to hold, not fade, in the silk scarves I've been stove-top dyeing. I've followed all the instructions, including steaming them in unprinted newsprint after they've been dyed and laid-flat to dry -- but, when they are washed in Synthrapol (after hanging 24 hours) I've used warm water to cold -- even rinsed twice in cold water -- the dye keeps leaching out of the scarves, making them pastel and losing the ombre effect I spent hours achieving; and now I'm concerned the scarves will leach-out more dye when someone wears them while walking in the rain (as an example). I'd sure appreciate any tips you could provide; though I'll try your method today and see what happens. Thank you!!! Michèle