Category Archives: types of dye

Why won’t my wool take up dye?

Hi, I have a question for you. I’ve been a dyer for many years. I dye all sorts of fibers and use synthetic dyes and natural dyes, ecoprinting etc my question is this: why won’t my wool take up dye? I have had this happen one other time in the past with a batch of wool top that I purchased and it has now happened again. I was trying to dye this wool with coreopsis. I washed the wool with a textile detergent and rinsed. Then I mordanted with alum and cream of tartar. i then put it in my dyebath and even adjusted the ph to an alkaline solution. the dye bath was a deep brown red as it should have been but after simmering, stopping the wool had only a tiny shift of color change to offwhite. I repeated the process and nothing. Could this wool have been processed with a chemical that i was unable to remove in the washing stage? I’m totally confused here. thanks for any feedback, Juli

So far, every time, the answer to this question has always been that the fiber was mislabeled as wool, when it was actually a synthetic fiber, such as acrylic. Have you used this exact same dyeing procedure in the past with success?

If you take a little bit of the fiber and burn it, does the burned fiber char, or does it melt? I like this Fiber Identification Burn Chart at Ditzy Prints:
Ditzy Prints Burn Chart for Fiber Identification
If you still have your dyebath, please try some samples of other wool that you may have to see if it takes up more color.

It is surprising how processed wool can be, and yet continue to dye very well. For example, Superwash wool is processed by being chlorinated and then treated with a sort of plastic, a polymer resin called Hercosett 125, that glues down the scales that are found on the surface of mammalian hairs (like the scales on our own hair); this enables the wool fibers to be treated roughly without interlocking, shrinking, and felting.

You would imagine that such dramatic treatment would interfere with dyeability, wouldn’t you? And yet Superwash wool is excellent for hand dyeing, no problem at all. In fact the processing has obvious benefits in preventing felting or shrinkage, when that’s important.

Please let me know if this makes sense, from your observations.

(Please help support this web site. Thank you.)

Paula

Is there a dye that can colour PET (polyethylene terephthalate)?

Name: Kathy
Country or region: Australia
Message: Hi Paula,
I’m wondering if there’s a dye that can colour PET (polyethylene terephthalate)?
Thanks for your help
Kathy

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Yes. PET is a common form of polyester, which can be dyed with a class of dyes known as disperse dye. Disperse dye is only slightly soluble in water, and works best on polyester when used with a carrier chemical. Without a carrier chemical, you can achieve only paler shades on polyester.

Dyes that are made for use on cotton or wool will not work on PET and other forms of polyester.

For more information, see my page, “Dyeing Polyester with Disperse Dyes“.

In Australia, you can buy disperse dyes under the brand name of Polysol, from Batik Oetoro, or Polytex, from Kraftkolour, or you can buy Jacquard brand iDye Poly (not iDye without the Poly, which is for natural fibers) from companies that import Jacquard products. For contact information for dye suppliers in your area, see my page, “Sources for Dyeing Supplies Around the World”.

(Please help support this web site. Thank you.)

Paula

Where can we order Vat dyes in Germany?

Name: Karin
Country or region: Germany
Message: Hello and sorry for disturbing, we want to order Vat Dyes and didn’t know where. Can you help us?
Thanks and best regards
Karin

Hi Karen,

Vat dyes are not as difficult to find as Naphthol dyes (yesterday’s question). A good retail source for vat dyes in Europe is Granat Farvekompagniet in Denmark. Look for their page of Granat Kypefarver/Batikfarver.

Vat dyes are widely available in many countries, including countries in Africa in which other classes of dye can be difficult to find. North American dyesellers from which vat dyes can be ordered include Aljo Manufacturing, PRO Chemical & Dye, and Maiwa Handprints. In Australia, Batik Oetoro sells Indanthren Vat dyes. (More information for each of these companies is available on my page, Sources for Dyeing Supplies Around the World.)

Vat dyes are not as suitable for beginners as Fiber Reactive dyes, but they are neither difficult nor dangerous to use, assuming normal safety precautions with safety goggles and gloves. The dyes are usually purchased in an insoluble oxidized form, and must be chemically reduced in order to solubilize them and get them inside the textile fiber; when the fiber is then exposed to air again, the dyes re-oxidize and become insoluble, so that the dye inside the fiber becomes fixed in place.

Vat dyes are particularly interesting for printing on fabric that has been dyed with dischargeable dyes, such as Remazol dyes or most Procion dyes. The same chemicals that are used to solubilize and reduce the vat dye will remove the existing color from the dye on the fabric, allowing the brightness of the vat dye in your design to contrast sharply with the background color. Granat Kypefarver/Batikfarver’s range of Vat dyes has been especially selected for being suitable for illumination dyeing on backgrounds made with Fiber Reactive dye.

Another useful property of Vat dyes is that most of them are less susceptible to fading than other types of dye. Not all Vat dyes are equally light resistant, but many are significantly more light-resistant than Fiber Reactive dyes or Direct dyes.

A specialized category of Vat dyes is light-sensitive pre-reduced Vat dye, which can be used to make single-color photographic prints on fabric. There are two brands of this amazing product available, with slightly different colors. Jacquard Products makes SolarFast light sensitive dyes, in fourteen different colors, and Lumi makes Inkodye, available in nine colors. Unlike sun-printed fabric paints such as Setacolor, the light-sensitive dye does not change the feel of the fabric, and it wears better than fabric paint since the dye penetrates the fiber. Since it is actually visible light that fixes the dye, rather than the heat from the infrared in sunlight as for fabric paints, inkjet transparencies with photographs or drawings can be used to make quite detailed designs.

For more information about Vat dyes and their use, see my page “About Vat Dyes”.

(Please help support this web site. Thank you.)

Paula