Trouble Dyeing Clothes Black
  • I've been trying to dye some cotton clothes black but am sometimes having trouble achieving a true black. I am dyeing with Procion mx jet black dye, about a cup of dye (I don't have a way to measure the dye by weight) per pound of fabric and 3 gallons of water. I'm wondering if it's possible I got a bad batch of dye or got dye of an inferior quality somehow. I have been able to achieve a true black a few times (actually using less dye) with dye from one source. But the last couple baths I've tried to do have used dye from a different source, and my clothes are coming out dark navy blue or dark purple or something similar. Any idea what's up? Is it possible I have inferior dye?
  • Hi Tempest,
    Wow! one cup of dry dye! That is WAY more than you need for one pound of fabric so, yes, I'd say something is hinky here.
    I'm going to presume that you've purchased a one pound or eight ounce container of dye - if you'll take a look at the label there should be a stamped number on the label. That will be the batch number. You can either reply here or call into customer service with that and we'll be able to tell you the age of the dye.
    That's my first guess - old dye, and we'll be able to confirm with the batch number.

  • Shoot! I already finished the dye and threw away the container. I called the place I bought it from, but they don't keep that information on file. Are there places that are notoriously reliable for good quality dye? I'm a bit bummed that it was a fair bit of money and effort, and I still couldn't get the color I wanted.

    Also, what is a good amount of dye per pound of fabric to achieve black? I've heard that black can take up to four times as much dye as other colors.
  • Tempest,

    There are any number of good sources for reliable, fresh Procion MX dye - let me know what part of the world you are in (and what state if US) and I'll do my best to direct you.
    As for the amount of dye, yes, black does often require more to get a deep dark color (as with some of the other dark colors).
    From our instructions page our recommendations are:
    General amounts of dye, salt and soda ash per 3 gallons of water and one pound of fabric:
    For very pale shades: ¼ to ½ teaspoon dye, 1½ cups salt, ¼ cup soda ash
    For light shades: ½ to 1 teaspoon dye, 1½ cups salt, ¼ cup soda ash
    For medium shades: 1 tablespoon dye, 1½ cups salt, ¼ cup soda ash
    For darker shades: 2 tablespoons dye, 2 cups salt, ¼ cup soda ash
    For darkest shades: 4 tablespoons dye, 3 cups salt, ¹/³ cup soda ash
    I've used up to 6 tablespoons of dye for very darkest shades so a 1/2 cup of dye for a pound of fabric isn't out of the question, but using that much dye should give you VERY darkest results.

  • I'm in the U.S. in Austin, TX. I was ordering it online because I can't find any stores here that sell it by the pound, and it's too expensive to buy it in the little jars.

  • Yeah, most places aren't going to carry a pound or eight ounces on their shelves, but several of the stores in the area would probably order it for you.
    I'd check Asel Art Supply and Jerrry's, both in Austin. If you decide to stick with mail order you can always order directly from the factory. We don't usually encourage this, but understand that larger sizes of some products are difficult to come by.

    good dyeing!