The stitches making the garment are synthetic so they are still white. Which dyes should I use to get best results?

Name: Steve



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. (Note that regular iDye is a direct dye that can be used only on natural fibers such as cotton; it can be mixed with iDye Poly to dye polyester blends.)


Country or region: KENYA

Message: I have several T-shirts white in colour which I want to dye. I have dyed one using Red dye (reactive) but the stitches making the garment happen to be synthetic so they are still white. Which dyes should I use to get best results?

Unfortunately, the polyester thread that is commonly used in clothing will not take any of the same dyes that cotton does. Polyester can be dyed only with a special dye for synthetic fibers, which is called disperse dye. It will not dye with any cotton dye. See "Dyeing thread in pre-sewn clothing".

You could, in theory, dye the polyester thread and the cotton fabric in two separate steps, or by mixing the polyester dye with a less washfast kind of cotton dye called direct dye, but I personally would rather not do this. Disperse dye is applied either by boiling the garment in the dye, along with a foul smelling toxic dye carrier molecule, or by heat transfer. Both of these are too much trouble, in my opinion, for dyeing just the thread in a garment. Dyeing with disperse dye is much more trouble, and much more unpleasant, than dyeing cotton with a good dye for cotton. I would rather either accept the whiteness of the thread, or dye unsewn fabric yardage and hire someone to sew it into garments, using matching thread.

Garments that have been sewn with cotton thread do look better after dyeing than those sewn with polyester thread, when you are dyeing solid colors or designs that don't have a lot of white. Try to find t-shirts or other clothing blanks that are labeled as PFD ("Prepared For Dyeing") or RTD ("Ready To Dye"); these indicate a shirt that is sewn with cotton thread, which will dye well. I am sorry that I cannot help you find a source for PFD cotton t-shirts in Kenya. In the US, Dharma Trading Company sells clothing sewn with cotton thread, and they do ship to Kenya, but I would imagine that the shipping for clothing would be prohibitively expensive.

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Posted: Monday - December 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM          

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