Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gradation Dyeing with Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes

This is the pile of fabrics I got using yesterday's methods for overdyeing. Can't remember right off which one it is!

Well, you could probably use this gradation dyeing method with about any kind of dye but I use it with my Procion MX dyes. It is based on a method that I first learned way back in 1992 at a class taught by Don Wiener at Pro Chem. Elin Noble was supposed to teach the class but she became very ill at this time with what turned out to be a very severe case of Lyme Disease.

Anyway, I do this using low water immersion methods. I usually do an 8 step gradation for the deepest colors (navy, intense blue) and a 6 step for some of the lighter colors (turquoise, basic blue).

May I start by saying that I always look at color two different ways -- one is the actual color itself (blue, blue/green, yellow/orange etc.) and one is the concentration of the color (.05% or 6%). So when doing the gradations, you can pick any color (either a manufactured "pure" color or a mixture of pure colors). For illustration purposes, assume that there will be one yard of fabric weighing about 100 gms in each dyepot (in this case I use gallon sized zip locked bags -- only the good ones which I use over and over again - I like the baggies better than other containers because you can message them so easily).

I make one cup (250 ml about) with 10-12 gms (about 2 tsps) of dye. I then add a cup of water to that to make 2 cups. I arrange the baggies in a tray, each with one cup of water with 1 tbsp of salt (optional). I start with the baggie furthest from me in the tray and add one cup of the two cups of dye. I then fill the 2 cup container back to two cups. I go to the next bag closest to me, put one cup of the new more diluted dye in and then repeat the adding water step. This is repeated through all the baggies. You will have one cup of diluted color at the end. I then put the fabric in each baggie starting from the one closest to me. I message the baggie to make sure the dye gets all through the dry fabric. I smoosh the bags several times during the next 15 minutes. At the end of the 15 minutes, I add a cup of soda ash water to each baggie starting at the front again (lightest to darkest). I message the bag very thoroughly, get as much air out as I can and close the baggie up. I do this for each bag. During the next 15 minutes, I will frequently message the bags but then won't touch them the last 45. If I want more mottling, I will not message as much but I do want to get the soda ash throughout as I hate white spots or pale spots. After an hour, wash out.

A variation on the above that I really enjoy is using one color as a gradation so that you have different intensities in each baggie as above. Instead of using the plain cup of water though, I will make up a second color (say yellow) in a 2% solution and add one cup of this solution to each baggie. You will get a nice gradation that moves from one color through a series of colors sometimes to another color. For those of you who have had Carol Soderlund's class, you kind of get the rows or columns in her book. It is a little tricky to figure out the concentrations of each color but a little arithmetic and you are all set! You will love the results of this one!

Forgive these being un-ironed!! The left side is a gradation of greys using a no longer produced mix from ProChem called Mixing Grey. I have achieved almost the same color using navy blue and orange in a 2:1 ratio. The one on the right hand side is one where I used a navy blue gradation but added a constant 2% solution of a mix of yellow and mixing red.


Katie said...

Just wanted you to know that I have tried many cottons, many muslins, solids etc., and my absolute favorite, hands DOWN. . no contest is Wal Mart's "super muslin"
Its thicker than any cotton or muslin I've ever dealt with, at first feel it could almost be confused with apholstery fabric (i know i mispelled that)
hold it up to the light, and you can't see through it like usual thinner muslins or solids

I make tie-dye quilts with tie dyed solids on the front in some sort of pieced method, and a big swirl on the back usually, they sell faster than I can get them finished.. I am strictly a procion mx girl, haven't found anything else that works, but use different ones from jacquard to Dharma's. The colors always turn out super bright and bold with the super muslin . My local wal mart usually keeps it in stock, honestly for me solely. I buy the bolt, then they replace it. You would think by now they would keep more than one bolt in stock!!!!
LOVE YOUR SITE> AGAIN. .. your info is awesome, thanks for all the time you give to use still learning

Laura said...

I know this post is quite old, but I hope you still check comments! I've wanted to dye my own fabrics for awhile (I even have 3 pots of Procion sitting on my shelves for the past yr!) but was totally clueless how to get the gradations I wanted. This is perfect. Thank you!!!!!

Beth Brandkamp said...

I always check my comments! Glad you found this a help. Dyeing is definitely addictive!

Unknown said...

I'm a little confused. Do you soak the same yard of fabric in each bag for 15 minutes add the Ash mix another 15 min wait 45 min then proceed to next bag? Or do you soak in each bag then proceed to ash etc?

Elizabeth said...

After 15 minutes of the fabric just absorbing the dye, I add the soda ash to each of the baggies and smush it around to make sure that the soda ash hits all the fabric. I zip up the bag as I go through all the baggies doing the same thing. It then sits with the soda ash in it for at least another 45 minutes. Depending on the amount of mottling you want, you can leave it alone (more mottling) or smush some more during that 45 min time (more even dyeing). Hope that helps.

Leigh Albert said...

Oh my gosh - I'm so glad I found you! Your blog popped up on my Pinterest suggestions and I'm obsessed. I have read this post through a couple of times. The colors you ended up with in that first group - rust and brown earth colors - are exactly what I have been unsuccessfully trying to achieve. Would you by any chance be able to recall what specific dye colors you used? You give the colors on the other group of fabrics but not the first group. I would appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you so much. I am going to subscribe!

Elizabeth said...

Leigh, look at my post called Extreme Overdyeing. It is listed under my most popular posts on the left hand side of my blog (web version not the one that pops up on your phone). It shows the colors I used to get the first browns. You may have to download and blow up the picture from the blog. It was the post from the day before the one you read. There are a few other blog posts you might be interested in also listed there.

Tracey said...

Hi. We’ve been dying fabric for a while now but can’t seem to get the vibrant colors I see others do. We follow the directions on Procion MX dyes and they wash out or fade. Please help... Thank you so much.

Elizabeth said...

My guess is the biggest culprit is that you are not using Preferred for Dyeing fabric. Some fabric even says it is, but it isn't. When that happens, it looks like the colors are okay until you wash them and then they fade. The only other thing is that you you are using too much water (with a lot of water, you need to add salt to the mix) or that you are using sodium bicarbonate instead of sodium carbonate. Pool stores sell both as PH+ these days and you have to look carefully.

Elizabeth said...

Just had another thought. If you have really hard water, then the dyes might not be going into solution and you need lots of urea to soften the water. This is especially true for yellows. Turquoises take a longer time and warmer water to dye the fabric as well.