Failed first shot at immersion dyeing !!!
  • Hi- I just need some advice- Today was my first tie die experiment with Procion dye- i used some folding techniques and let the tied fabric sit in an immersion dye bath for 2 hours- the first hour with only water+dye and the next hour with soda ash added to it.

    My first fold technique was double accordian ( creating pleats from one side of fabric to another lengthwise and then creating pleats from top to bottom) and i secured it with rubber band & strings - did not use wood blocks - ALSO THE BANDS AND STRING WERE NOT TOO TIGHT

    My second technique was to vertically half the fabric and then create diagonal pleats and later bind them with rubber band-

    After dyeing, the fabric its too saturated with color though i do see a pattern -

    Maybe i used too much dye and water - in total i used about 1 liter of water, about 4 teaspoons of die for a total of 4 swatches of fabric totaling approx 1.5 yards - all 4 swatches were immersed together- the two fabrics i used were muslin & another type of a cotton (sturdier than muslin) -

    The results:
    Double accordian folded pattern shows almost no pattern it just looks like a mess- i think i tied the bands too lightly and didnt use a wood block on either side so the dye went in everywhere - also the fabric swatch was small slighty less than 1/2 yard -MUSLIN- Maybe with smaller swatches i need to use lesser water and dye and use a tighter wood square resist?

    Maybe i should have mixed the soda ash & dye together before putting the tied pieces into the bath? I followed instructions from Paula Burch's website - her section on "immersion dyeing" and she says its OK to let the dye be for sometime without soda ash and then add soda ash afterwards-

    I did not take into account measurements depending on the weight of the fabric i used- maybe i should have?

    Just any advice would be appreciated- thanks a ton! I

  • Hi AK,

    It is pretty difficult to get good pattern definition for tie dye when immersing. You are correct in assuming that the dye penetrates too effectively. If you really want to do immersion tie dye you'll want to tie your pieces very tightly, using the blocks will help, too. I'd also recommend not leaving the pieces in the dye bath for so long. All you really need for this sort of effect is one hour in the bath with the dye and the soda ash all at once. You can also use less liquid - just barely covering the fabric should be enough. As for dye quantities - use the recipe for tie dye here: MX Instructions.pdf.
    If you aren't wedded to the idea of immersion method check out the tie dye instructions - you'll be much more likely to get the patterning it sounds like you are after.

    hope this helps
  • Hi Annette,

    Hope all is well with you! Thanks a ton! :)

    I tried this technique because i eventually want to use a natural indigo vat to do some shibori designs so i wanted to try the same things with Procion.

    I have seen so many blogs online where people have used immersion dyeing with Indigo and gotten excellent results. I know that indigo dyeing has to be done using a dye bath- Does the natural dye bind to the fibers slower or in a different way? Just a bit curious!

    And yes- i will try the more free hand technique with bottles as well !!


  • Hi AK,

    ....ah....well, you are absolutely right. Folks do do immersion shibori techniques with Indigo dye with stunning results.
    The reason they can, and you will, get the wonderful results with Indigo has to do with the way the dye penetrates and connects to the fabric. It is quite different than the way Procion MX fixes to fabric.
    Indigo, in its reduced state, is able to penetrate and infiltrate fibers pretty easily, however not near so easily as Procion MX or Acid Dyes so it is easier to create bindings that will resist the Indigo. So, your results with Procion MX aren't going to translate straight across to Indigo.
    You are going to love working with Indigo - it is SUCH a cool dye!

  • Oh, this is great to know- i thought as much because Procion seems to travel very fast and penetrates the bindings quite easily unless its very tightly bound (with immersion technique)

    There was a howcast video in which the lady was using Procion and not binding as tightly but still getting good results- perhaps shes not using as much dye as I am - will try that out too ?

    My second attempt is in the dye bath now and im following your advice- the water level is not as deep and im using clamps and blocks on one sample and just blocks and rubber bands on the other one- lets see what happens- ! Also this time iv added Soda Ash into the dye bath as soon as the dye bath was ready so i guess 1 hour of reaction time should be enough-

    Thanks again- :)
  • Annette- Its a success! ;) Looks like i need much tighter clamping - I have a bunch of things to try now ill keep you posted- Regards, AK
  • Great! Yes, the tighter the bond the better the resistance!