I would like to dye only the top of the quilting and leave the creases and thread white
Country or region: Colorado
Message: I have a queen size comforter, one large piece of white cotton with machine quilted designs. Assuming the thread is polyester (I have an OCD problem with tearing tags off), I would like to dye only the top of the quilting and leave the creases and thread white, or much lighter. I have not found a technique relatively close enough to achieve my desired look. Any suggestions? I thought possibly using gloves and lightly rubbing over the top. Would you have a dye type, brand preferance for this project? I would like an earthy dull tone blue and/or green.
The dye I recommend for your comforter is Procion MX type fiber reactive dye. You can buy it in Colorado, online if it's not nearby, from Colorado Wholesale Dye Company in Littleton, or, for a wider choice of pre-mixed colors, you can order dyes online from any retailer of Jacquard dyes, or from Dharma Trading Company in California, or PRO Chemical & Dye in Massachusetts. I recommend fiber reactive dye because it lasts much longer than all-purpose dye, and it's also much easier to apply, since it's set with soda ash (the same chemical as in washing soda), rather than with heat the way all-purpose dye is. Setting with heat would be extremely inconvenient for an item the size of your comforter, plus it would be difficult to combine with the design you want. Procion MX dye is the easiest to use of all the fiber reactive dyes, because its minimum reaction temperature, for fixing to the fabric, is 70°F. Other fiber reactive dyes require more warmth. Procion MX dye is also the cheapest of the fiber reactive dyes, in the US. We get very good prices compared to hand dyers in other countries. It doesn't matter that you removed the tags from your comforter, as long as you're sure that it's cotton, because the tags never tell you the fiber content of the thread used to sew it together. There is a risk that the fabric might be 50% cotton and 50% polyester, in which case it will dye to a much paler color than 100% cotton will. 100% polyester would be much less practical to dye. For your desired look, with the creases staying white (the thread will probably stay white no matter what you do), what I would do is buy a pre-mixed color of Procion MX type dye in a subtle earth-tone blue or green color that you like. It would be easiest to wait for warm weather so that you can do this outside without fearing splatters on your floor or furniture, but you can find a way to do it. Soak the comforter in a large bucket of soda ash mixed with water, one cup of soda ash for each gallon of water, then squeeze out as much of the extra liquid as you can, and spread the comforter out flat, using something like a plastic drop cloth underneath. Mix up the dye with water, following the same recipe as for tie-dyeing, then either put it into a spray bottle and spray dye across the comforter from an angle, holding a rag to catch any drips that fall from the sprayer, or use a large sponge to lightly apply splotches of dye where you want them. Spraying from a low angle keeps the dye from reaching inside the creases; it also leaves interesting shadows wherever there's a wrinkle in the fabric. Wearing gloves is something you should certainly do, but it will be easier to apply the dye lightly using a tool such as the spray bottle or a sponge. You don't want to squirt the dye directly on with a plastic yorker-top squeeze bottle, as we do in tie-dyeing, because it makes a very intense burst of color that will run into the creases. Air-brushing is another way to apply the dye lightly, but it requires a lot more equipment. You can cover the comforter with a other layer of plastic to keep it moist, or use urea in the mixture when you dissolve your dye in water. Keep the comforter in a warm place, minimum 70°F, overnight, since the reaction slows way down when the temperature falls below that.
Instead of pre-soaking the comforter in soda ash solution, you have another option of adding the soda ash directly to the dye mixtures, but if you do this, you must add the soda ash only when you are about to apply the dye. Be sure the dyes are completely dissolved before you add soda ash to them. If you mix the soda ash in with the dye before you are ready to use it, the dye will react with the water in the presence of the soda ash, and will no longer be able to react with the cotton of your comforter, so try to use the dye within half an hour of adding the soda ash. Use two teaspoons (or 10 ml) of soda ash powder for each quart (or liter) of dye mixture.
It's possible that you will end up with a little separation of colors on your comforter. Earth toned dyes are typically made by mixing together several different bright colors, such as blue with orange. From a distance the colors should blend together nicely. This can create quite a nice effect, but if it's something you want to avoid, do a test on something less important to you first. Some dye color mixtures tend to separate out a lot more than others; I have specific recommendations for how to mix colors to increase or decrease this effect, but I don't think you want to get into mixing your own colors yet, at this point. It's easier to select a premixed color from one of the major dye suppliers. If you don't see an earthy-enough blue or green, try mixing equal parts of a pre-mixed blue with a pre-mixed tan color; the yellowish character of a tan will turn a blue more greenish at the same time that it dulls it down to a more subtle color.
Be sure to prewash your comforter in the hottest water it can tolerate, to remove any invisible stains that might keep the dye from adhering evenly; sometimes spinning oils or other finishes are on the quilt when you buy it, so prewashing is essential even if it's new. After dyeing (you can wait a day or two if you like), wash the comforter, first in cool or lukewarm water to remove the soda ash and some extra dye, then in the hottest water available to remove all of the unattached excess dye. If the comforter can't tolerate hot water, then use warm water, and wash it multiple times.
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Posted: Monday - November 28, 2011 at 09:38 AM
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Published On: Aug 29, 2012 02:49 PM