How can I dye a t-shirt to look like candy corn?

Got a dyeing question for you:


Jacquard tie dye kit

Jacquard Tie Dye Kit

Dye up to 15 adult-size T-shirts, with vivid, electric colors that are so colorfast they can be washed with the daily laundry. Ideal for cotton, silk, hemp, and rayon. Contains Procion MX type dye.


Procion mx fiber reactive cold water dye

Procion MX Dye

ideal for cotton/lycra blends

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.

I want to try to dye a t-shirt to look like candy corn. I've only done tie dye. I can't quite figure out how to get the dye to just be in big horizontal bands without bleeding into the rest of the shirt. Any ideas on how I can do this? (I figured I'd start with a white shirt and split the colored areas into 1/3s...)

candy cornCandy corn is a really easy color scheme. Orange in the middle, white on the narrow end, yellow on the wide end.

What I would do is presoak the shirt/onesie/whatever in soda ash, wring it out pretty well, lay it out flat, without tying it, and squirt Procion MX fiber reactive dye in yellow (yellow MX-8G, the one both Dharma and Jacquard call Lemon Yellow) on one end, then squirt orange dye (orange MX-2R, which Dharma calls Deep Orange and Jacquard call Brilliant Orange) across the middle. The dye will spread out some, but it doesn't keep spreading indefinitely. If you watch to see how far the orange dye creeps, you can control the amount of dye you put on so that there is not enough to overwhelm the white end. This will also work if you tie the shirt, but watching the dye go on flat gives you a little more control. It's okay if there's a little overlap between the yellow and the orange, but again be careful not to apply so much orange dye that it runs all across the white section.

I think you want the orange section to be more than one-third of the total, and the white and yellow each to be less, but start with equal thirds and just see how far the orange dye runs when you drip it onto the shirt. Other colors often end up covering more of the yellow section than people plan on them doing.

The reason why I recommend using orange MX-2R instead of mixing an orange from yellow+fuchsia is that yellow and fuchsia tend to separate out at the edges, giving a bit of a yellow halo. It's not terrible, so it's worth trying if you already have a tie-dye kit with yellow and fuchsia dye and don't want to order more dye, but it's not as ideal as using a true orange dye.

Another way to get the orange to stay where you want it is to thicken it with some sodium alginate. A lot of tie-dyers use sodium alginate to thicken their dyes. Buy it from a dye supplier such as Dharma Trading Company Jacquard Products, or PRO Chemical & Dye. I rarely use thickener, myself, though; it's a matter of personal preference.

So I'm looking at the Dharma catalog, and I need to get soda ash, and the dyes. (I figure I'll forego the sodium alginate.) I'm a little confused as to which type of dye I should be getting. Should I be looking at the Fiber Reactive dyes? It's been a while since I've tie-dyed anything; once I apply the dye and it dries on the shirt, do I need to soak it in anything again or just rinse it out?

Yes, you want the Procion MX dyes, which Dharma labels as 'Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion Dyes'. 

You also MUST have soda  ash, or washing soda, which raises the pH of the fabric enough for it to react with the dye. Soda ash is the dye fixative, usually applied by presoaking the shirt in a mix of one cup of soda ash in a gallon of water. You can usually buy it at the hardware store as "pH Up", but if you're ordering dyes it's easier to order some soda ash at the same time. 

If your water is hard you should also order their water softener, which is sodium hexametaphosphate, since hard water otherwise gives duller colors. It's far better than the Calgon water softener you can buy at the grocery store now.

If you don't still have them from when you tie-dyed before, also order some plastic squeeze bottles with yorker tips. Don't forget to get some disposable gloves, too.

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

Posted: Thursday - October 04, 2012 at 12:12 PM          

Follow this blog on twitter here.

Home Page ]   [ Hand Dyeing Top ]   [ Gallery Top ]   [ How to Dye ]   [ How to Tie Dye ]   [ How to Batik ]   [ Low Water Immersion Dyeing ]   [ Dip Dyeing ]   [ More Ideas ]   [ About Dyes ]   [ Sources for Supplies ]   [ Dyeing and  Fabric Painting Books ]   [ Links to other Galleries ]   [ Links to other informative sites ] [ Groups ] [ FAQs ]   [ Find a custom dyer ]   [ search ]   [ contact me ]  

© 1999-2011 Paula E. Burch, Ph.D. all rights reserved