Shibori, when to pre soak in soda ash?
  • Yikes! I have watched too many Youtube presentation on dyeing.. now my head is spinning..I want to experiment with some shibori patterns and procion mx dyes. I will be using some 100% cotton very nice white soft hand dinner napkins ( prewashed). Some instruction say presoak fabric in soda ash in water bath first before doing the resist implementations, rubber bands,folds, clamps etc. others show doing the resist patterns first then soaking in soda ash then one comes in with the use of urea? urea geesh, another thing to invest in? Feedback?
  • I haven't done a whole lot of Shibori, but what I did do, I soaked first, before wrapping/banding. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense not to presoak. The soda ash is going to make the colors stick better. Parts where the soda ash couldn't reach, the color probably won't reach either... but if the color reaches it by chance, the color won't stick as well, and you might get drained or faded sections of your work. Not only that, but the dye won't seep into all the parts as you'd expect. The dry fabric will resist absorbing the dye in odd areas and you can end up with big sections of blotchy white where you didn't want it.

    Also, the soda ash acts as kind of a separator in the tied sections. Presoaking gives you better controlled contrast between the dyed and non dyed sections of the fabric. I can't think of a way to explain it, but if you try it a few times, you'll see what I mean. When you soak first you have better swirly patterns throughout your work... I'm talking about the classic tie-dye random color mixes.

    I talk a little about it here:
  • Thank You for the feedback...I think I will experiment between the two approaches and also the difference between direct application with a squeeze bottle of mixed dye and an immersion bath. Just am not sure were urea comes into all this. I will be back with photos hopefully.
  • Just to draw a distinction between Urea and soda ash. You use both to get the color brighter. However, they do it in different ways. Soda ash is the actually dye fixer, so it makes the dye 100% brighter. Quite a difference, it is night and day. Urea is a humectant. It draws moisture to the fabric and allows the dye to stay wetter longer and penetrate the fabric better. It probably improves the color 10-15% at best. It is the professional's way to bump the color up just a bit, whereas the soda ash is vital to the color. That is why we consider Urea to be optional and soda ash to be vital.

    Also, urea helps with shibori and tie dye, but not with immersion dyeing really. Urea is very cheap, so a few dollars will get you a supply for quite awhile, and you just add it to the dye. Very simple.
  • You know, I've never used urea. I was always told it helped dissolve the powdered dye better. I was going to get some soon, and use it for my reds and browns. Reds are always difficult for me to mix thoroughly. Browns... well, I get little red dots. I guess those are the red parts of the color mixture that didn't mix well.
  • If you use synthrapol, sometimes people use it as a dispersant(chemical to mix the color and help dissolve). It takes almost nothing. A single drop of synthrapol in a dye bath helps the color dissolve in the water faster by breaking the surface tension of the water.