Dyeing stretch velvet of unknown fiber content

Name: Dianne



Dye polyester and poly/cotton blends

Jacquard idye

Jacquard iDye and iDye Poly

iDye Poly is disperse dye that can be used to immersion dye synthetic fibers including polyester, nylon, and acrylic.


Crayola fabric crayons

Crayola Fabric Crayons

Simply draw a design on non-glossy paper, then transfer it to synthetic fabric by ironing the back of the paper.


Ink effects fabric paint violet

Ink Effects
Fabric Transfer Ink

Ink Effects fabric transfer inks allow you to perfect designs on paper before transferring to fabric. Simply paint your design on standard copy paper. Allow it to dry and then iron the design (paint-side down) onto a white or light colored fabric of your choice. Ink Effects absorb into the fabric for an extremely soft and flexible feel. Design will not fade during laundering. For use only on synthetic fibers: be sure to first use Ink Effects Basecoat on any material containing less than 70% synthetic fibers.


Country or region: USA

Message: I have looked for this question but don't see it exactly although I learned much from your info on fiber reactive dyes. I am a rug hooker and am continuing to experiment with hooking and braiding velvets. Dyeing success has much to do with the fiber content, silk being the best with acid dyes.  But stretch velvet is the best to hook with and the fiber content is not always known. So I have purchased Procion dyes from Dharma but so far am unhappy with the concentration of color. 
I want to spot dye or dip dye as we do with wool and the water bath using cold method, dilutes out the color too much. 

Here is my question: a very successful method using wool and acid dyes is placing a piece of wool in the bottom of an electric frypan, just the size of the pan. The wool has been soaked in synthrapol. Several dyes with citric acid are dripped or splotched onto the wool and further layers can be placed with more dye. The temp is maintained just to slight bubbling for an hour, covered. So very little liquid, just the wetness and dye. The results are wonderful. 

I want to try the same method with my stretch velvet which has poly or low %silk with salt, soda ash and Procion dyes. My concern is whether it will be safe to heat this dye and what you think. Thanks in advance Paula. You have been so helpful in the past!

Unfortunately, you can't dye polyester stretch velvet with Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. Polyester simply will not take any dye other than the special polyester dyes that are called disperse dyes. Heat won't help. (See "Dyeing Polyester with Disperse Dyes".)

Your electric frypan method for wool is almost identical to the method called low water immersion dyeing for cotton, except that soda ash is substituted for the citric acid, of course. Since cotton and silk can be dyed at room temperature with Procion MX dyes and soda ash, a plastic bucket can be substituted for the frypan. (See "How to Do Low Water Immersion Dyeing".)

It is okay to add extra heat when dyeing cotton, rayon, or silk with Procion MX dyes, as long as the dye and the soda ash are both in the fabric as soon as you add the heat, or before. Procion dyes will react quickly with whatever they are in contact with as soon as they heat up. If they are in contact with a fiber they can react with, then it's fine; if they are in contact only with water, then they will be used up and fail to react when they are later added to the fiber.

I think it is absolutely essential to test every fabric of unknown fiber content before using it in any dyeing project.You should test the stretch velvet before adding it to your stash of usable materials.  The only time you can safely skip this step is when you won't mind if the fabric stays white. You could do this step with a burn test or by doing a very quick little dye test. If it is mostly cotton, silk, or rayon, velvet will dye beautifully with Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. 

For a fast dye test, place a snippet of the fabric, large enough that it won't wash down the drain too easily, into a zip-top freezer bag with a small amount of Procion MX dye dissolved in water, plus a small amount of soda ash, mix until the fabric is soaked with the dye, then microwave until it is hot, watching carefully to make sure that the bag does not inflate so much as to explode. Rinse the excess dye with first cool water and then very hot or boiling water. (Use a strainer or a mesh lingerie bag to keep the small swatches from going down the drain.) Using the microwave speeds the dye reaction so you don't have to wait for your results.

For the opposite approach, to find out quickly whether a fabric will take polyester dye, buy some Iron-on Fabric Crayons, either Crayola or Dritz brand, from the local fabric store, or order them from Dharma. These look a lot like ordinary wax crayons, but they cannot be used interchangeably with them, as the material they are made of is completely different. Color onto some paper with the disperse dye crayons, then, protecting your ironing board with layers of newspapers or paper bags, iron the dye-coated surface of the paper against the fabric, using the high heat setting on the iron. After washing, the dye will remain on only synthetic fibers such as polyester, acetate, acrylic, and nylon. (See "Iron-on Fabric Crayons for Synthetic Fibers".)

The iron-on transfer method of applying disperse dyes is very easy to do, in as many colors as you like. If you decide you like the method when you try it with the crayons, but want a wider range of colors and less trouble in coloring the iron-on, you can order transfer dyes. You use transfer dyes by mixing them with water and painting them onto paper, then ironing on, as with the transfer crayons. Dharma doesn't carry transfer dyes (except for the crayons), but you can order them from PRO Chemical & Dye in Massachusetts or Aljo Mfg in New York. Jacquard's iDye Poly can theoretically be used as transfer dye, but it's slower to transfer than the dyes that are specifically sold for use in transferring, and is not available in the same wide range of colors. [UPDATE: Dharma is in fact selling disperse dye inks now, in the newly introduced Decoart Ink Effects, available in twelve colors.]

You must test to see how much damage the heat inflicts on the spandex in any stretch blends. Spandex is a heat-sensitive fiber which is supposed to be washed only in cool water. Excessive heat may result in the loss of shape in spandex-blend fabrics, but this is obviously less of a problem if you'll be assembling it into its final form only after dyeing is completed. Before using it, check to be sure that a spandex-blend fabric does not seem to have been damaged or weakened by the heat involved in applying dye.

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Posted: Tuesday - September 18, 2012 at 11:43 AM          

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