Dyeing to know what's missing

Last summer I did quite a bit of dyeing with Drimarene K dyes. I love everything about these dyes except their price tag. I always had excellent results using these dyes.

So this time around I'm trying Procion simply because they're a fraction of the price. I'm now getting mixed results and am not happy with it all. The colours are strong (I make them strong because I like it that way) but lack the vibrancy of the Drimarene K items I've previously done.

I dyed some Stella for the first time this week when I made shorts for the girls. I think I oversaturated and lost definition in the designs. A lesson for next time.

Maybe I'm not combining the right colours? For example, the yellow I have is a golden yellow which is almost an orange - my next order will be for lemon yellow.

Another distorted design and way too mottled for my liking. The good news is the girls think they're wonderful and want to wear them a lot so all is not lost.

I also made a top for the boy that I dyed with the immersion technique (very carefully) that came up really disappointing. To be specific, it looks like an older and worn top rather than brand new and vibrant. I've trawled information to find what may be wrong - the only thing I can think of is the curing temperatures may be a little low as the weather hasn't really warmed up yet.

I know other dyers get great and vibrant results with Procion, so there must be something amiss with what I'm doing.

Any suggestions?


Marie said...

Can you explain the process you are using for the tie dye and immersion dye?

How long between when you make up the dye concentrate and then using it? Are you thickening the dye for the tie dye? Are you applying the dye to wet or dry fabric? For immersion dyeing, how long was the fabric in the dye before adding the soda ash? How long did it cure for?

These answers might help us readers help you.

I don't know how Procion dyes compare to Drim K, but I have found with procion that practice and experience with the dyes helps me. I take lots of notes and hypothesis for next time (also helps if it has been awhile between dyeing sessions).

willow and moo said...

Kel, a lot of what Marie has said. :-)

I'm assuming that you've had a good read through Paula Burch's website as she has good instructions with good technical information. Her scientific background means the technical info on her site is spot on.

Definitely go the lemon yellow next time.

If heat is a problem, then put what you are curing out in the sun. Just make sure that it is wrapped, so it stays damp. This is where urea would be useful as it's a humectant so it holds water.
Would you consider purchasing a cheap microwave as part of your dyeing equipment? I use a microwave to set most of my items. I was given an old one by a friend after I trashed my good one because I had dye solution spill in the microwave. That doesn't normally happen, I was having a blonde moment.

I'm just thinking as I go here. I don't think temperature would be your sole issue with vibrancy because Drimarene K dyes have a higher optimal temperature for reacting than Procion, so maybe it is the weather, winter vs summer, not the actual dyestuff which is the issue.

More thoughts on vibrancy and following on from Marie's comments about keeping notes. I always found my yellow/green/turq weren't as vibrant as the other colours. This is a known fact and you can counter it by use more dye in these colours. Depending on how you prepare you dyes (weight or volume), you will need to increase the amount of the colours that aren't as bright as you'd like. If you measure by volume, you have to use more turquoise. The Dharma site states that. I'm not sure if it has to do with the density of the different dyes or just the actual colours.

I wish I could help you with the Drimarene K vs Procion differences. I have toyed with switching dyestuffs a few times, but I have a system that works for me with the Drimarene K dyes, and it's worth it for me. Plus I am not sure if you know this, but Drimarene-K dyes are more stable in solution, so I can make stock solutions and keep them in the fridge indefinitely. I do see a tiny bit of intensity loss (something that I would only notice) after months of being in the fridge.

I am like Marie where I keep notes now of what I do. I find this so useful because I can go back and make the same thing over and over and if I want to tweak my dye, I know where I started and then what I've done.

The other useful thing that I did a while back was do colour mixing charts. It was the only useful information out of a dyeing book that I bought a while back. Now when I want green, I just grab my book and I know how much turq and yellow that I want.

Sorry I'm just spewing out thoughts! I hope it makes sense. :)

The Handmaden said...

Thanks for all that info girls!
Immersion dye - Made up strong colour according to Procion instructions. Tried to dissolve salt, it didn't fully dissolve but seemed to when I added it to the dye. Mixed up dye & salt. Immersed white top (stella) and agitated for 20 minutes. Took top out and added disolved soda ash (according to Procion instructions again). Mixed together, added to dye. Put top back in and agitated for a few minutes. Left in dye bath for 3.5 hours agitating periodically. Rinsed in cold water, washed in warm detergent water, then cold rinse again. Dried on the line.

Sara: Yes a microwave would be useful and I will consider one for future use but atm space is a massive issue.

I'm guilty ladies - I haven't been taking notes!!!
Lesson learned - I need to do this.

willow and moo said...

Kel, I usually dissolve my dye and put it in the bucket and add enough water to cover what I'm dyeing. While the fabric is sitting in the dye, I dissolve the salt. I use hot water or boiling water to dissolve the salt. It dissolves more easily in hot water. Then I add the salt water to the bucket and give it a jiggle. I leave it to sit for 10 minutes or so then I dissolve my soda ash and add that to the bucket. The salt helps to drive the dye into the fibre, so that everything is in the right place when you add the soda ash.

You might also find that you need more dye than you think with immersion dyeing to get brighter colours. How much dye did you use?

Also to increase the temperature use warm water to dissolve the dye and hot water for the salt and soda ash.

As per usual I am just throwing out some ideas.

Marie said...

Yeah, for solid colours, I was following dyeing101 and using less water in the dye bath, adding the fabric in wer, swirling around, adding the soda ash and swirling around some more, then squeezing out the excess and batching in a sealed bag in the sun. Rich, even colour.

You don't need a microwave for Procion, unless less than 20 degrees. It needs time.

I have bad dye days, particularly with immersion. It takes a lot of dye, based on the weight of the fabric and then some more for deep colours, to dye Stella I would say. It is a good weight. Some days I think I should be dyeing over a darker colour to get some of the colours I want, like Jade green.

willow and moo said...

Oh I wanted to add that i don't use a microwave when doing immersion dyeing. I use it for tie dyeing. It enables me to control the process...speed it up and also allows me to set/react the dyes before the spread too much if that is the effect I am after. It's just a tool.

From memory Stella is 220gsm, so it's fairly weighty. Kel, do you have a scale?

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