Dyeing Without Losing Color

Hello: I have recently been working with a large piece of muslin material using Procion dye. I used an antique gold and sprinkled the dye on with a salt shaker. I had wonderful results until I put the fabric in the washing machine to set the dye and get the soda ash out. I started over with same technique, only this time I didn’t wash the fabric. I went back to the store where I bought the dye and they told me to steam it. This was a very time consuming process, not to mention that given the size 10’x10′, it didn’t fit very well in the canner I was using to steam it. All that to ask is there a better way to set the dye without losing my color, and get the soda ash out. I have requests for 10’x21′ pieces, and right now only work in the basement, so you can see the dilemma. Thanks for your help. Sincerely, Jeff

Hi Jeff,
I use a variation of this technique, too, both on cotton and silk. I call it confetti dye and have used it in some very large jobs for custom home decor. I love it! Here’s my method.
1. Wash muslin with Synthrapol and soda ash. This is the scouring step. Use about 1 tsp Synthrapol and 4 tablespoons soda ash per load. Run entire washing cycle.
2. Run muslin in washing machine rinse cycle only. Add about 3/4 cup soda ash per load. This leaves soda ash in fabric but spins out extra water.
3. Remove wet fabric and spread out on your work surface.
4. Put salt in salt shaker with your powder dye mix. Sprinkle on fabric and fold up carefully. If the fabric dries out too quickly (as a silk hab will do), you can mist water over the fabric.
5. Put folded up fabric in a plastic bag (in your case, doubtless, a garbage or kitchen size bag). Fasten with a plastic twisty or one of those things that close up a loaf of bread. In other words, no metal twisty.
6. Heat up the bag, in the microwave (start with a short time on half strength, you will figure out what works with your microwave), or on a hot driveway (this works where I live, most of the year), or at a distance with a hair dryer. You want the bag to get quite warm. THIS is the step that sets the dye.
7. After heating, let the bag sit at least an hour, then you can wash (warm wash, also use warm rinse if you have that option) with Synthrapol to remove excess dye and soda ash and so forth.
Write back if you have more questions!!

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