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Acid Dyes Work Best, if you have the equipment
I use acid dyes from Dharma Trading. Their instruction sheet is online. The following is my notes to supplement their instructions.
Do not be alarmed by this list. Acid dyes do a great job and CLEAN UP beautifully: they won't stain your stove, pots, floor or anything that is not made of wool, silk or nylon. They are also washable (within reason) and beautiful. PS: the Acid in the Acid dyes is the vinegar you add.
1 yd 19 mm silk charmeuse weighs 3.5 oz, needs 1/6 oz dye.
6yds of 19 mm charmeuse weighs 1.25 lbs (20 oz), needs 1 oz of dye.
3yd 5mm veil weighs 2 oz, needing 1/12 oz dye
2/3 oz dye per lb of silk.
1/4 c of white vinegar per lb of fabric.
1 T per 4 oz fabric.
The problems you will face are:
- fully diluting the dye without leaving lumps or grains in it;
- adding vinegar to the dye without creating light spots on the fabric;
- providing a suitable pot for dyeing;
- providing a dye bath large enough for the silk to swim in;
- keeping the silk from tangling while dyeing;
- protecting the silk from sudden changes of temperature that will weaken it;
- getting the silk to the optimum temperature for dyeing (185 - 195 F) and holding it there without scorching the pot bottom;
- keeping air pockets from forming under the silk and pushing it up out of the dye bath;
- removing the dyed fabric from the dye pot without subjecting it to sudden temperature change and without splashing yourself with hot dye;
- washing and drying the dyed fabric;
- emptying the dye pot;
- cleaning the dye pot.
- Enameled canning pots with lids (large and medium) are probably the cheapest pots available that are suitable for dyeing.
- I can die one veil in a 16 qt pot ( 10 high by 11 wide).
- I can dye two veils or the silk for pants or a top in a 21 qt pot. (9 high x 14 wide).
- I can dye a pound or more of silk in a 33-qt pot (13 high, 16 wide).
- Acid dye powder
- White vinegar
- scale to measure fabric and dye (I have provided weight estimates for those without scales at the top of the page.)
- Cooking thermometer (best) or use eyeballs to control final simmer
- Cookie sheet and dish cloth or other counter protection
- Measuring spoons
- Stirring device
- Pyrex qt/ 2 qt measuring bowl w handle
- Flat bowl big enough to go under the Pyrex
- 3-4 hours of time
- Inspect the pot for chips. If the pot is chipped, the exposed metal will leave nasty streaks of brown on your finished silk.
- When dealing with silk, minimize contact with skin, floor, anything. Put it in a clean plastic bag when transporting, weighing or sewing.
- Sew silk raw ends into a circle, with folded end stuffed in a plastic bag while you sew to keep fabric off the floor. The circle will prevent tangles in the dye pot, the washing machine and the dryer.
- Fold silk into large pleats width-wise across fabric.
- Put dye powder into Pyrex (see dye recipe at top of page). Add a small amount of water and stir to make a smooth paste. Add another cup or two of warm water and stir until fully diluted. Let sit to insure it is completely dissolved while you do the next few steps.
- Add warm water to dye pot using smaller pot (if necessary) to transport water.
- Turn the burner on, medium or medium high
- Place fan-folded silk in large bowl or pot and gently pour warm water over it until the fabric is saturated with water. This will facilitate a nice even dye job.
- When the silk is thoroughly wet, it is time to dye it.
- Add dye/ water mixture to large pot. Stir in thoroughly.
- Slowly ease wet fan folded-silk into pot. No bubbles in the fabric, please!
- Add water as necessary to make sure the fabric swims.
- Stir every 10 minutes until 180 - 190 degrees F (very gentle simmer). Make SURE you stir the water on the center bottom or the dye will cook there.
- When the water is 180-190 F, it is time to add the vinegar (this puts the ACID in the ACID dye). Stir white vinegar into a quart of warm water (see vinegar recipe at top of page).
- With your stirring device, move the fabric in the pot gently towards a side and pour the vinegar mixture slowly down the other side. Stir.
- Cook 30 minutes at 170 - 190 (slow simmer). Continue to stir at 10 minute intervals, stirring the dye off the bottom.
- Take it easy. You'll enjoy it more and have fewer problems. When using a large pot, give yourself 3-4 hours to heat up, cook and cool down. Heating up fast will cause the silk to bubble up above the surface with trapped air, which means it is not in the dye bath dying. If the temperature goes to boiling you may end up with dye all over the stove and floor. Yes, it will clean up, but why go there?
- After 30 minutes at temperature, turn off the heat.
- Using an old pitcher (and holding the flat bowl under it to catch drips), remove as much of the dye bath as you can. Picking up the entire pot of dye and pouring the contents out into the sink without incident is very very difficult to accomplish cleanly. This slower-but-sure way will save you stress and clean-up time.
- When you have removed most of the dye bath, lift the silk out of the pot carefully and place it on the upturned pot lid.
- Carry the silk to where ever it will be washed and unfold it so that it will cool off. You can do this in the washing machine, but do not start washing the silk until it is cool enough to handle comfortably.
- Go back to your dye pot while the silk cools. You should be able to move the dye pot now and pour out the contents. Immediately wash the pot down with warm water and soap. Do NOT use abrasive pads or powders! Then fill the pot with water and a dash of ammonia. (Let it sit for 30 minutes- overnight and then wash it down again with soap and water.)
- Return to the silk. Untwist the fabric circle and wash in warm water with (optimum) synthothol.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Untwist the fabric circle and dry.
- Remove stitching holding the circle together and proceed with your project.
Maura Enright, Proprietor
Author: Maura Enright
©2013 by Maura Enright
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