dyeing baby clothes
Message: My girlfriend offered me a deal to split a lot of white cotton onesies
which I would love to tie dye them and offer matching booties and hats. I would love advice. I would prefer to offer these outfits at farmers market where I think the concern may be the toxicity of the dyes used. Can you offer any suggestions? Is there a dye person that you could recommend? If the price is right, I would be interested because it would save me a great deal of time.
As long as you use fiber-reactive dye, such as Procion MX dye, and not all-purpose or direct dye, and use soda ash to fix the dye, and as long as you properly wash out your dyed garments, after dyeing, to remove all excess unattached dye, your products will be at least as safe as those which are commercially marketed for babies.
Most commercially-available baby clothes are dyed with direct dye (one of the components of all-purpose dye). This seems likely to be a somewhat less safe dye than fiber reactive dye, since it tends to bleed out of the garment at least during laundering, and might possibly leach onto the skin during wear, though finishes are now applied to lock in the dye, making it less likely to bleed in the laundry (or onto skin). However, there is no known evidence that there is any hazard involved in wearing clothing dyed with direct dye! The medical citations I have found concerning reactions to dyes in clothing have all involved dyes used for polyester or acrylic, not for cotton.
There is no dye for cotton that is safer to wear than fiber reactive dye because it forms a permanent covalent bond with the fiber, and does not come off, assuming that all unattached dye has been properly washed out. (See the entry for April 3, 2005.) Food coloring is an even safer dye, safe enough even to eat, but it works on wool, NOT on cotton. Do not attempt to dye cotton with food coloring! If you want to dye with food coloring, buy wool and dye that.
Is there a dye person I can recommend? There are quite a few who have listed themselves in the Custom Dyers' Listing on my site; you should browse through there. However, the profit margin on items such as these, once you take into account money lost from dye failures, unsold items, blank garments which disintegrate in the wash, and so forth, might not be enough to give both you and the dyer any profit. Perhaps you should investigate the use of low water immersion dyeing, which is faster and easier than tie-dyeing, and often gives more attractive results, as well.
Updated September 7, 2008
Posted: Wednesday - April 06, 2005 at 08:38 PM