Cotton Velvet Coloring

velvetI have read your page on dying fabric, and I’d like to give it a go, but I have never done this before!
The reason I have to do this is because I make Scottish highland vests and jackets. These are traditionally made out of cotton velvet, and the company which made the classic royal blue cotton velvet no longer makes that color.
I did manage to find some white cotton velvet (no mean feat in itself), and I am also willing to risk ruining the velvet.
A friend of mine sent me a contact for Prochemical (which apparently makes the reactive dyes that work well for cotton). He also stated that they have a color matching service. So far, so good.
How do I go about dying white cotton velvet so that I get the color completely even in the finished product? I would be attempting to dye a yard of fabric the first time, and if this works, I might expand my dying operations. The cotton velvet can be dried in the dryer, tumble dry low, and because I’m dying the fabric first, I don’t have to worry about shrinkage.
How would you do this?

Dear Pamela,
The dyes are indeed available at Prochemical. In addition, both the cotton velvet (which is commonly called velveteen) and the dyes are available at www.dharmatrading.com. Both Prochemical and Dharma both have good instructions for vat dyeing in the washing machine.
In general, here are the steps:
1. Measure dry dye into a plastic container. Add one drop of dishwashing liquid. Dissolve with hot-warm water, stir until completely dissolved.
2. Run smallest warm water load in your washer. Pour in dissolved dye.
3. Add 4 cups of table salt.
4. When machine starts to agitate, add fabric. Since you are experimenting, measure your fabric before your put it in. Before and after measurements will give you an idea about how to account for shrinkage.
5. Agitate 5 min. Check color. If it’s way too light, add more dye (dissolve first). Don’t pour new dye directly on the fabric. If it’s close to what you want, you can let it agitate more (most of my colors take about 8-9 minutes).
6. When color is approximately what you want, add 1/3 cup soda ash dissolved in a big cup of warm water. You can get soda ash from Dharma or from a pool supply place, where it’s called PH Plus. Agitate 15 minutes.
7. Allow wash load to finish. Run another load washing with Synthrapol (from Dharma). Use only about 1/2 capful or so until you figure out how much you need for your water system, washer, etc.
8. Put piece in dryer. Dry 5-10 minutes, line dry the rest of the way. Measure shrinkage.
Read all the instructions available from all the sites. You will figure it out with a big of trial and error. Have fun! I think you will be pleased with the results, and you may get hooked on fabric dyeing.

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