Dyeing organic cotton Sherpa using low-water immersion or ice-dying techniques

Name: Krista


Jacquard procion mx fiber reactive cold water dye, starter set

Jacquard Procion MX Fiber Reactive Cold Water Dye, Starter Set

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. Perfect for natural plant fibers.


Jacquard chemicals for fabric dyeing, sodium alginate, 2 oz

Jacquard Chemicals for Fabric Dyeing, Sodium Alginate

These supplies are specially formulated to obtain the best results with Jacquard Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes. Sodium Alginate is an excellent thickener for turning dyes into thicker paints. Use the SH grade (shown) for thicker cottons, and the F grade for thin silks.


Country or region: USA

Message: I'm a beginner and have been reading online profusely and watching lots of YouTube videos, and I'm so happy to have found your site. I haven't been able to find anything regarding dyeing organic cotton Sherpa using low-water immersion or ice-dying techniques. Acquaintances tell me it's difficult. Do you have any advice as I don't want to waste such lovely fabric or dye? Thanks in advance on any tips you might have.

"Sherpa" as the name for a weave of fabric is a new one for me; it seems to be a long-looped version of French terry. 100% cotton always dyes well, though, as long as it is not treated with a surface finish such as wrinkle-resistance or stain-resistance; cotton labeled 'organic' is less likely to have been treated with a problematic finish, since these finishes often contain formaldehyde.

(You are using Procion MX or another fiber reactive dye, right? Instructions for using a less suitable dye, such as Rit all-purpose dye, would be different.)

There are two problems with dyeing such a thick fabric. One is that you may not get the sharp crinkle patterns that you can get with a thinner, crisper fabric; this problem is made up for, in my opinion, by the feel of the fabric. 

The other problem is that a yard of this fabric weighs a lot. You'll need to use a lot more dye powder per yard of fabric, or per garment, than you will for a lighter fabric. You must weigh your fabric, so that you will be able to estimate correctly how much dye to use. You can do this the precise way, by calculating the percent of the fabric weight and multiplying it by the amount of dye suggested by your dye supplier or in a chart, or you can do this by roughly estimating how much more dye you'll need to use than for something you already dye frequently; for example, if a garment weighs two and a half pounds, you'll need to use five times as much dye as you would normally use for a t-shirt. Take a look at my page, "How much Procion MX dye should I use?", scrolling down to the table for immersion dyeing.

For low-water immersion dyeing, you will also need a larger container than usual, since the thickness of the fabric makes it take up much more room. Consider a bucket, a large plastic storage bin, or a plastic dishpan, depending on what you're dyeing. Make sure that your container is the right size for your fabric to be tightly contained, for the greatest possible definition between differently colored parts of the fabric. Be careful to use enough water, too, so that the dissolved dye thoroughly penetrates. Everything is the same as in dyeing smaller items, except that you will need to multiply the amount of dye, water, and soda ash, each by the same number. It can be very satisfying to dye large pieces of thick fabric.

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Posted: Wednesday - January 08, 2014 at 09:18 AM          

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