Using Thickener
  • I'm doing a combination of screen printing and hand painting on 100% cotton. I have procion MX dye powder, soda ash, urea, and sodium alginate, but am confused on the steps for mixing everything. Here's what I understand so far, let me know if/where I'm mistaken:

    1. Pre-wash the fabric
    2. Mix 1 cup soda ash with 1 gallon water, soak fabric in this 20-30 min, wring out, air dry, iron
    3. Mix 1 qt water with 1/4 cup urea
    4. Add dye powder to the urea/water mix
    5. Add 2-5 tsp sodium alginate to the dye/urea/water mix, stir slowly, let it sit for a few hours
    6. Print!
    7. Set the fabric
  • Hi Haleigh,

    Close, but not quite there. Here is the way to go.
    First - in a quart jar.
    1. Mix 1 teaspoon Calgon and 10 tablespoons urea together in the jar.
    2. Add • 1½ cups hot water - mix.
    3. Slowly add 4 teaspoons sodium alginate, stirring constantly. Stir until dissolved.
    4. Add cool water until the mixture is no longer stiff but is not runny. This should make about 1 quart.
    5. Cover, label and store in the refrigerator.
    When cool:
    1. Add ½ teaspoon baking soda to ½ cup thickener paste. The baking
    soda activates the dye reaction. Activated paste will remain usable for only 4 hours and then must be replaced with freshly
    activated paste.
    2. Add ½ to 2 teaspoons of dye per ½ cup thickener. Proportion the dye in
    each container in relation to the amount of thickener paste and desired intensity.
    4. Print, paint, stamp or brush on fabric.
    7. Air dry completely.
    6. Steam set in a steam chamber or professional fabric steamer

    This is the recommended way to print and set Procion MX with this sort of printing. However, if you prefer you can presoak the fabric in a soda ash solution (1 cup soda ash to 1 gallon of water), however, if you are not going to steam the fabric the alternate setting process would be batching which requires moisture. This means that your fabric should be damp when you apply the dye (thickened or otherwise) and then covered so that it stays damp for 12 to 24 hours.

    If you have any other questions don't hesitate.
  • Hi Annette, Thanks for posting this- ill use this recipe too :)

    Did you make those jeans yet? Pls let me know once you do so!! Cant wait!
  • I haven't but one of my co-workers did a few pair last week - I think they will be posting pics to the Facebook account soon - I'll see if I can snag a photo to post here.

  • oh wow ! im totally looking forward to seeing it !!
  • Here is the video for the pants I mentioned - so cool!

  • Cool ! You know wat i just thought of? I had stuck tape zig zag wise all over a blue pair of jeans and spray bleached them - i think that one cant get that bleached effect by dyes but your solarfast dyes might be perfect for a better more sophisticated look- i just dont like bleach but only use it sometimes on old pairs of jeans so i can turn them into a homeless chic look LOL- what all people do for fashion! - Anyway, love the video- thanks for posting Annette-

    Does your company have a DIY get together in California sometimes?

  • You should check out our discharge paste as an alternative to bleach - much easier on the fabric, although it doesn't work well on blue jeans as they are most often dyed with indigo which is not dischargeable.
    We don't do DIY gatherings/workshops at this time. That is on our wish list!
  • Hi Annette, Hope all is well with you! I just wanted to ask you for some advice: I just got a used pair of really old white jeans and tried painting on them with sodium alginate. I did not pre soak the jeans in soda ash because i will soon use sodium silicate as a fixer.

    Im just not pleased with the results so far- the dye seems to spread out even though i used thickener- maybe i should get the water/alginate mixture more jelly like (it was thick but not very thick) - What do you think? Today is my first time using dye this way and i found it really hard to get the crisp lines that im looking for- should the alginate/water paste be very thick?

    Also, if im going to crisper lines , should i pre soak in soda ash as opposed to sealing with sodium silicate when the dyes are a bit wet- i feel that the dye spread more if wet silicate goes on after? have you experienced this ?

    Any advice for this project is appreciated- and yes, im trying to get the lines risp and using the Versace jeans picture that i showed you earlier as inspiration :)

    Thanks a ton !
  • Annette- sorry but just thought of this- maybe getting crisp lines with thick alginate/dye paste while painting in a abstract manner isnt the right way because with thick paste the brush strokes end up showing in certain areas only (not everywhere) when the lumps of dye bonds with the fabric and then you get small blobs in other areas- maybe i should just try using medium to thin consistency dye and just let it spread slowly and hold back on the amount of dye i apply- what do you think?
  • You do make a good point...that can be a problem if the dye is too thick. I think your idea of a thinner viscosity is good. You might also want to consider using an antifusant on the fabric rather than thicken the dye.
    Presoaking your jeans with soda ash solution and letting them dry completely before painting is one way to slow the flow of dye through the fabric. Working with a brush that has just a bit of dye on it helps, too. (if you use this method be sure to have a small container in which to pour dye and dip your soda ash contaminated brush)
    I had to go do some research about the sodium silicate - that was all new information to me. I actually like the idea of using the sodium silicate after the painting, but I too would be concerned about bleeding. I'm thinking that using an antifusant like NoFlow (or even fabric starch), painting with a less viscous dye solution and then maybe spraying the sodium silicate solution rather than brushing it onto the jeans might be the best way to go?

    hope this helps
  • Hi Annette, thanks a ton for your advice- i just completed this project for a friend, was an old pair of stained white jeans so now they look brand new (almost)- after I painted with the thick dye paste i applied sodium silicate all over - front & back , let it sit for 30 minutes and then steamed them wrapped in a newspaper for over 1 hour. Then rinsed the jeans over and over again- after which i boiled them in boiling water for a few minutes to wash away the excess dye , then washed them in regular water again, couldnt see any color running in the water at this point.

    I also used very little dye in the paint brushes as you suggested but iv got to do 1 more project for which ill presoak in soda ash- just want to get a sense of using soda ash vs silicate while painting with dyes. Yes i will keep 2 small containers while painting just so i dont add soda ash into the larger pot of dye paste! I need more practice though, its just a bit of a challenge to get used to painting with dyes and understanding the chemical process that comes along with it :)

    Thanks again! It was very helpful as always

  • Here they are -these were for a female friend whose old jeans had a lot of staining so i could not incorporate a lot of the white base in the painting- i love how the dye gives a paint effect but i still prefer paint for certain applications- i like some weight sometimes- especially with the Lumiere paints!