trying to dye cotton rope two different colors, with the line of demarcation between the colors to be as sharp as possible

Name: Larry


Procion MX Fiber Reactive Cold Water Dye

Procion MX Dye

ideal for cotton, rayon, linen, and silk

When mixed with soda ash, Procion dyes are permanent, colorfast, and very washable. You can easily create a palette of brilliant colors ranging from light pastels to deep, vibrant hues.

Tandy Leather Artificial Sinew

Artificial Sinew

Tandy Leather Artificial Sinew can be split down to the desired thickness like real sinew. Comes on a bobbin of 20 yards.

Country: US

Message: Hi:  I'm trying to dye cotton rope two different colors, with the line of demarcation between the colors to be as sharp as possible.  IOW, blue rope, then red rope with no bleeding or feathering.  Is this possible?  I tried tying the rope tightly, but it still bled up the fibers.  Thanks. 

What kind of dye are you using? Are you using a hot water dye, such as Rit all-purpose dye? If so, I recommend that you stop using it, and buy some good fiber reactive dye, such as Procion MX dye, or a good tie-dye kit (any brand but Rit). All-purpose dye tends to bleed, so it's not going to work in this project, and it's fixed by heat. Fiber reactive dye is fixed at room temperature, using soda ash, so it's more versatile and allows more approaches to solving your problem.

In some cases, tying tightly will be sufficient, if you're using Procion MX dye. If that doesn't work, then the next thing to try is thickening your dye. You can mail-order a dye thickener called sodium alginate from any good dye supplier. (It's also available from food industry suppliers, but a dye supplier will be less trouble for most people, plus you can order some economically priced good dye while you're at it.) Another suitable dye thickener is called SuperClear. To learn more about dye thickeners, see my page, "Sodium alginate, Superclear, and other dye thickeners". To find a dye supplier to order the thickener from, see "Sources for Dyeing Supplies Around the World".

The combination of using a dye thickener and tying tightly often works very well. Try tying a very sturdy thin string, such as artificial sinew (available in crafts stores) or dental floss, around your rope as tightly as possible, then apply one color of thickened dye to one side of the tie, along with the soda ash required to set the dye (use the tie-dyeing recipe). Allow the dye to fully react, then wash out the excess dye, using first cool and then hot water, as usual. Allow the rope to dry very thoroughly, and then repeat on the other side of the tie with the other color. Before you do this, use a scrap of rope to test whether the amount of thickener you're adding to the dye is the right amount to suit you. You can add more, for thicker dye, or less, for thinner dye.

Less convenient though perhaps more effective would be the option of using a non-water-soluble resist, such as batik wax or hard soy wax, to resist the dye of one color while you apply the other. The reason why it's less convenient is the need to remove the resist before applying the other color. Batik wax is best removed by boiling. Soy wax can be removed by washing in hot water (140°F) with plenty of detergent, enough to be sure the wax does not solidify in your pipes and clog them. These resists are great for designs, but for a simple line like yours, I prefer the ease of combining thickened Procion MX dye with tying.

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Posted: Wednesday - January 06, 2010 at 06:20 AM          

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