Friday, December 1, 2017

Fabric Dye Experiments--Rit, Rit More, and iDye Poly

I really don’t know much about fabric dye, and I’ve searched the web for answers, only to find that I needed to experiment for myself in order to find them.
I purchased a bunch of polyester knit fabric for making dolls, so they are mainly fleshtones—four different colors.  I made some dolls with the fabric—one doll for each color.  One of them did not look right.  In fact, it had a “dead” look to it.  The tone was just too gray.  I have a store-bought doll that I really like the color—a really rich peachy color.  So I wanted to see if I could match it.

468bbd32-5cc7-4701-af9c-38e45159840a_1.6c77984c26b1c1a1fbf0a2cc04217784I came across some Rit Dye More for synthetic fabric at Walmart on clearance.  The color was Sand Stone.  There were only 3 bottles, so that’s what I got.
In all my experiments with the Dye More fabric, I used 3 gallons of water and continued to use the same water.  My first question was “What happens if I use the same water?”  I thought since the water was still so full of color, that I could continue to dye fabric with the same water, with the same results.  Nope.  It’s a one-time deal.  The fabric soaks up the dye and when you use the same water,  the new fabric does not absorb the dye.  However, the red dye tends to stick a little better.  So for red and yellow dye, if you continue with the same water without adding dye, the fabric will come out pink.
41W2ueqz7IL._SX425_Also in all my experiments, I used a water bath canner pot on the stove, maintaining a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once the temperature reached 180, I added the dye and stirred it well.  Then I prewashed the fabric in the sink, then added it to the pot for 30 minutes, constantly stirring.  The fabric is 100% polyester, 60 inches wide.
IMG_9044First I tried 10 feet of fabric (1 pound 4.5 oz.).  I used 1 bottle of Sandstone.  It wasn’t dark enough, so I added the second bottle.  It turned out really tan, like a Khaki color.  It was really yellow.  I thought, “Maybe if I use the same water and add Pedal Pink (for natural fibers), then they will mix and be able to dye the polyester fabric.”  So that’s what I did. (In the photos of the fabric, they are not true to the color.  Every screen is different, too, so what may look tan on one screen can look more pink on another screen and vise versa.)
I added 1 bottle of Sandstone and a bottle of Pedal Pink.  Then I added 5 feet of fabric (11.1 oz.).  It looked really pink, so I added 1/2 a bottle of yellow (first taking out the fabric, adding the dye, mixing it, then adding the fabric back in).  It looked like the perfect color.  But when I rinsed it, all the dye came out that was meant for natural fibers.  So it looked exactly like the first fabric that I did.  I decided to try a cotton fabric to see what would happen.  I added a white onesie and it came out burnt orange.  What a difference!
For my third try, I added the rest of the bottle of yellow and 1 yard (6.7 oz.) of fabric.  Same thing.  It just rinsed out completely, but this time it didn’t hold the Sandstone dye.  It was just slightly darker than the original color.
So I decided to try some more poly dye.  I ran over to my local Joann store and the only poly dye they carried was iDye Poly by Jacquard.  Not many colors to choose from: Red (which is more like burgundy), green, blue, brown, and black.  I couldn’t believe they didn’t have yellow!  My plan was to use the primary colors.  So I bought 3 packs of brown, and 1 pack of red.
IMG_9014I decided to try my experiments on a smaller scale.  The packaging says not to cook food with anything that you’ve used dye on.  So I put water in a small pot, then put 1 cup of water in a jar.  Since the dye is powder, I put 3/4 cup of water in a plastic disposable cup, then disolved the powder in it.  I had to mix it up a lot.  It was so chunky (not to mention very stinky).
I used a dropper to measure the dosage.  Again, I maintained the water temperature at 180 degrees.  This time, instead of using the same water, I rinsed it out each time.  I added drops of dye, then added a wet piece of fabric approximately 4x4 inches, for 5 minutes.  Here’s what I came up with (click photo to enlarge):
  1. 4 drops brown
    1 drop red
    Turned out pretty good, not too green, not too red.
  2. 4 drops brown
    2 drops red
    Looks too dark and grim
  3. 4 drops brown
    3 drops red
    good, but not right color
  4. 4 drops brown
    4 drops red
    really dark
  5. 3 drops brown
    3 drops red
    very dark
  6. 2 drops brown
    3 drops red
    peachy color
  7. 2 drops brown
    2 drops red
  8. 1 drop brown
    2 drops red
    amost perfect peachy color
  9. 1 drop brown
    1 drop red
    too light
  10. 1 drop red
    too pink

I wasn’t happy with any of the results.  They just had too much of a blue tint.  I needed the yellow.  So I drove out of town to the next Joann store to see if they had a better selection.  They did!  I was so glad.  They had the Rit Dye More! I happened to have several coupons, so I bought two Daffodil Yellow, two Racing Red, and one Chocolate Brown.  When I got home, I opened the brown and knew right away it wouldn’t work.  So I began with red and yellow.
Using the jar method and 1/2 cup of water, I started testing drops.
First I tried one drop of red.  It was too pink.  Then I tried an equal amount of drops of red and yellow (click image to enlarge):
IMG_90452—light tan
4—good peachy color but too light
5, 6, and 7—good peachy color, similar so there’s not much of a difference.
So I decided to go with 6 drops per half cup of water.  I did the calculations and figured about 20mL of dye per 3 gallons.  (I used an old NyQuil measuring cup.)  I put in 3 yards of fabric.  It was good, but since I had experimented with only 5 minutes, the color looked quite a bit IMG_9032darker after 30 minutes.  So while the fabric was in the dryer, I tried the measurement for 2 drops per half cup in the large batch (good thing I have lots of fabric to test with!).  Again, 3 yards of fabric in 3 gallons of water. 
After the original fabric with the 20mL dye dried, it was nearly the perfect color!  I couldn’t believe how close it was.
What I’ve learned for sure is that the water and fabric before rinsing it out, looks nothing like the end result.  And test, test, test!  There isn’t much information from the dye companies for the consumer.  There’s so much to learn just from experimenting.  Be sure to use different utencils and cooking supplies than you do for cooking food.  Thrift stores are the perfect place to find things to use for dyeing fabric.  The canner pot I got second-hand and I’ve never used it for canning, so I thought it's the perfect thing for dyeing fabric.
Also be sure to cover everything to protect it from dye. No matter how careful you are, there’s still a chance that the water can splash and dye can get on your stove, counters, floor, or you!  I put aluminum foil on my stove and freezer paper on my counters.  I’m so glad I did.  I still managed to get some dye everywhere, though.  But it would have been worse.
Get yourself a good thermometer, too.  A digital thermometer with a timer and temperature alarm is perfect because it will tell you when the water is at the target temperature.