dyes for lycra
  • I'm a cosplayer the character I'm going to go as involves a lycra body suit. I need a dye that is thick enough to paint on for the details. My problem is though I have no idea what type of dye I should use. For example is acid dye thick enough where it can be painted on and not bleed threw the material and ruin it?
  • Is your costume 100% Lycra (spandex)? It's more likely to be a blend of spandex with another fiber, such as nylon or cotton. As a general rule, it's bst to dye the other fiber and ignore the lycra, unless the other fiber is polyester; polyester/spandex blends cannot be dyed. See my page on How to Dye Spandex.

    You can dye spandex thread by heating it in a dyebath at 60°C with premetalized acid dyes, such as dyes in the Lanaset series of dyes, but this is not recommended for a garment that has already been knit and sewn together. The problem is that spandex is likely to lose its shape at the high heat required to get the fiber to take the dye.

    You can't paint dye onto spandex and expect it to bond to the fiber. It will just wash off, unless you steam the dyed garment for the required period of time (probably an hour). That's not a suitable treatment for a garment whose care instructions say to wash in cold or warm water only.

    The answer is that you should not use dye at all. Instead, use a thin Fabric Paint that mimics a dye, such as Dye-na-Flow. To avoid having to heat-set the fabric paint at all, you could add some of Jacquard's AirFix to the paint before use.

  • I am curious as to whether I can add Sodium alginate to the Dye-na-Flow and AirFix? Wanting to screenprint on lycra and need a thicker medium. Thanks
  • Hi there,

    I'm going to double check with the chemist before I answer this question.

  • The answer I got is yes, though it isn't the most desirable medium. You might want to consider simply using a thicker paint.

  • Lycra can be dyed with traditional Rit fabric dye. Like stated, heat will destroy the lycra portion of the blend, so do not go over temp. Use salt to help release the dye into the fabric.
    Use gently heat, about what you feel comfortable with your hand in.
    Leave the lycra in for a long time, overnight even. Stir as much as you can to avoid splotches.
    Let the fabric dry before you rinse it to help fix the color (leave in a wet pile and move the pile around every 15 mins so the color does not run) then use low heat, like a clothes dryer.
    Lycra will dye, but it is not a great job. I have done white to black and after a few washings end up with a dark gray. It never really was a black, but still looks good and is holding onto the dark gray now.
    It seems that when I let the dye dry naturally in the fabric it sets. When I do the rinse after the dye then most of it just washes back out and I have wasted time and a bottle of dye.
    When it dries naturally be sure that the dye water cannot just drip out via gravity, this will take the dye with it. Leave it in the wet pile so it HAS to evaporate. You may could use a clothes drier to do the same thing, but I have not tried this yet.
  • Lycra may be dyed with the Idye poly. As younofun says, heat can destroy its elasticity, so it is best to dye it very quickly and not leave it for more than 10 min or so in the bath. Also, Lycra sometimes absorbs the smell of the color intensifier and makes the material smell bad for a long time. I suggest not using the color intensifier on lycra.