To paint flames onto a cotton lycra skate costumes, do I need to do each colour separately? That is, paint the yellow, let set, rinse and dry and then repeat with next colour?

Name: Brenda


Procion mx fiber reactive dye bright golden yellow 010 2 3 oz.

Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dye bright golden yellow

Use for tie-dye, vat dyeing, batik, airbrush, hand painting, printing, spatter-painting, and more. This concentrated dye, which you add to tap water, gives you brilliant color.


Sodium alginate 2 oz. sh

Sodium Alginate SH

A derivative of seaweed, this is the best thickener for Procion MX Dye. A thickener is used to control spreading when painting or screen printing. Sodium alginate is used to thicken the dye to a paste consistency for printing and hand painting. Use Sodium Alginate SH for cotton and other cellulose fibers. It may also be used for silk when fine line definition is not required. Use Sodium Alginate F for silk and synthetics when fine line definition is desired.


No flow 8 oz. bottle

No Flow (8 oz. bottle)

An antifusant that is applied to the fabric before silk painting to inhibit the spreading of dye. This starch-like fluid is painted on the entire piece or on a specific area. It dries clear and washes out in the first rinse. No Flow is particularly useful when making fine designs with a brush or fabric pen.

Country or region: Canada

Message: I am attempting to paint flames onto a cotton lycra skate costumes. The flames are only on part of the costume, in reds, oranges and yellow with black outlines. I'm using Procion dyes and painting directly onto the cotton lycra. Do I need to do each colour seperately? That is, paint the yellow, let set, rinse and dry and then repeat with next colour? or do I paint the flames then let set/cure and rinse? I'm concerned about the colours bleeding into the white areas while
1) applying them
2) rinsing them?
Do you have any suggestions?

Paint the flames, let them cure in a warm place, then wash them out the following day. You can do all the colors at once, with Procion dye; if you allow them plenty of time to react with the cotton and the soda ash, in a warm enough room, they will not stain the rest of the cotton when you wash them out. This is the same as in tie-dyeing cottons with Procion dye. You have to allow enough time that every dye molecule has reacted, either with the fabric or with the water, so that it will no longer be capable of forming a permanent bond to the fabric when the wash water carries it around.

It is extremely important to practice before starting work on your skate costumes: try using a cheap 100% cotton t-shirt to test your chosen technique first, or some cotton/lycra yardage that is similar to your costumes. For all of the garments you paint, be sure to place a large piece of waterproofed cardboard (waterproofed with house paint or by wrapping in plastic wrap) or some sort of stiff plastic inside, so no dye leaks through from the front layer to the back of the garment.

The biggest issue is how far the dye will spread on the fabric. There are several different ways to keep the dye from spreading all over your costumes, so that you end up with flames and not just big blobs of flame-like colors. It's okay for your yellows, reds, and oranges to overlap, but it's very important that your black dye not spread into the lighter colors. You may want to do the black dye first, let it cure, wash out the excess, and only then start work with your yellow, orange and red dyes.

One application method is to thicken the dye so that it does not spread, by mixing in sodium alginate or Superclear (purchased from a dye supplier, such as Dharma Trading Company). This is probably the most popular method for dye painting on cotton/spandex fabric. It makes the dye mixture thick like oil paint or artists' acrylics. You can either mix your soda ash directly into your thickened dye (keeping in mind that you must use the dye paint mixture immediately after adding the soda ash), or you can presoak the garments in soda ash, exactly as for tie-dyeing, and then hang them up to dry so that the soda ash is in the fabric when you paint the dye on. (Note that your paint brush will carry soda ash from the fabric back to your supply of dye paint when you dip your brush again, so pour out only a little of your dye mixture to use at once time, so as not to contaminate most of your dye; this will allow the rest of the dye to last for several days before use, instead of reacting immediately.) For more information on thickening dye, say my page, "Sodium alginate, Superclear, and other dye thickeners".

Alternatively, to keep the dye from spreading when you paint it on, you can paint an anti-diffusant, such as Jacquard Products' No Flow or Sennelier's Stop Flow, onto the fabric and allow it to dry; afterwards, dye painted on will not spread in the usual fashion. Apply the No Flow to the entire area where you will be painting. As with all of these methods, it is important to try a test on a scrap of fabric first, so you can see how it works and how heavily you need to apply it. (See Jacquard Products' page about No Flow.)

A third method is to use the black outlines to contain the dye from spreading. This is known as the Serti technique, at least when it's used for silk painting (see Dharma Trading Company's explanation of using the Serti technique in silk painting). Instead of silk paint, on cotton you will use Procion MX dyes. While a substance called "gutta" is commonly used in silk painting, you can use a fabric paint (referred to in Dharma's piece as a colored water-based resist) for this purpose, as well. If you use a black fabric paint to color the outlines, both front and back of the fabric, letting it dry and then heat-setting if the manufacturer recommends doing so, and stretch the fabric over something, the wet dye you paint inside the outline will spread only until it reaches the outline, and then stop. There are many choices of paint for the outlines. For example, Dupont makes something labeled "colored gutta in tubes" which is actually not gutta (a liquid rubber product), but instead a fabric paint. You have to be careful when squeezing it on so the paint penetrates into the fabric, but this is not difficult. Jacquard Textile Color is a fabric paint that comes in jars which, like most fabric paints, can be used to make outlines that lightly applied liquid dye will not cross, assuming, in every case, that there is no break in the line.

After you have applied the dye, not forgetting to use soda ash in some form, you must allow the dye to react with the cotton. The fabric must stay at least a little moist for the entire time; the dye reaction will stop once the last bit of moisture has evaporated. You can keep the fabric moist either by mixing urea with your dyes when you dissolve them, or by wrapping your fabric in plastic. Urea is easier, maintaing sufficient moisture in the fabric even after it appears to have dried out. The dye must be kept warm for it to react. If the room in which the damp dye-painted fabric is reacting falls below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, then the dye reaction will slow down so far that it may never complete, though it will speed up again if you get it warm again. If your house or studio is colder than 70 degrees, there are several different ways to provide enough warmth for your dye reactions; see my page, "What is the effect of temperature on fiber reactive dyes?", for some suggestions.

When you wash out your dye, after allowing at least overnight, or longer, for the dye reaction to complete, first rinse with plain cool water, or with cool water and a little Synthrapol, but not with regular detergents, then wash in the hottest water that the fabric can tolerate, to remove excess dye. You'll need several washings to remove all of the excess unattached dye.

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Posted: Thursday - January 09, 2014 at 10:20 AM          

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