Getting An Even Color On Large Projects

I am interested in dyeing 35 yards of cotton duck for slipcovers for a sofa, chairs and ottoman. I plan on using Procion MX dye in the washing machine. I will use a premixed color and use this one color only. Any advice on sizes of pieces; maintaining consistent color if I have to divide up yardage; scouring fabric, anything else??? I’ve done lots of hand-dyeing with MX dyes, on much smaller yardage. This sounds like an exciting project, but I don’t want to make too many mistakes! Thank you. Mary Elmusa

Dear Mary,
This is going to be an interesting project. The best advice I have is to go into it keeping careful notes and having no particular expectations. One method would be to divide the yardage for the different pieces of the slipcovers – enough for a chair, for top of sofa, for back of sofa, etc. Get enough dye for the total job so that you have one dyelot of the color (I suggest 8 oz.).
I have had mixed luck replicating colors exactly. If you put in more fabric or more water, it changes the result. Do your best to keep all that consistent – for example, try to do about 7 yards at a time in a large washer load, or whatever works. Measure your dye and salt carefully.
Wash all fabric with Synthrapol before you start. If you want an exact color, I would suggest some 1 yard test swatches, keeping in mind that you’ll be doing a whole lot more fabric at a time when you dye the real pieces.
If you are nervous about the washing machine technique in general, do a few test dyeing loads of sheets and pillowcases, or t-shirts, or whatever you are in the mood for. This will help you feel more confident when you start pouring stuff into the washer.
My hints: I use 1 drop of Dawn in the dye solution to keep the powder dissolved evenly. Clean the washer with 409 between each load.
Have fun!

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