How can I dye synthetic-blend chenille upholstery fabric?

Name: chris


Dye polyester and poly/cotton blends

Jacquard iDye

Jacquard iDye and iDye Poly

iDye Poly is disperse dye that can be used to dye polyester, nylon, and acrylic. (Note that regular iDye is a direct dye that can be used only on natural fibers such as cotton; it can be mixed with iDye Poly to dye polyester blends.)

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Stainless Steel 10 Gallon Stock Pot with Lid

NSF Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid 40 qt Dyeing polyester requires a large dyeing pot for use on the stovetop.

Message: CHENILLE!!! I have "high-end chenille upholstery fabric" I would like to dye just a slightly more "tea-dyed" color. I tried RIT, it only dyed the rayon threads. I do not have the fiber content or make-up. Any help??

All-purpose dye is not a very good dye, because it tends to bleed in the laundry forever, but it can be a good indicator of fiber content. I believe that the fiber that was not dyed by your all-purpose dye is a synthetic fiber: polyester, acrylic, or the like. Cotton, rayon, linen, silk, and even nylon will be dyed at least temporarily by all-purpose dye.

You could try doing a fiber burn test, to try to determine what fiber you have there, though that can be difficult with a blend. Or, you can just assume it's most likely polyester. A quick Google search shows that rayon/polyester blend chenille is commonly available as upholstery fabric.

Polyester, and other synthetic fibers such as acrylic, can be dyed by boiling it for half an hour or an hour with a special kind of dye called disperse dye. You won't be able to find this dye in a local store, but you can mail-order it. In the US, I recommend ordering it from Aljo Mfg in New York, or PRO Chemical & Dye in Massachusetts. Be sure to get the carrier chemical that is needed for dark or intense colors; Aljo calls it Hi-Conc Polydeveloper, while ProChem calls it Dye Carrier NSC. You can also buy iDye Poly from dye suppliers that carry Jacquard Products' dyes.

Since disperse dye requires extensive boiling, you will need an enormous stainless steel cooking pot in order to apply the dye. The pot should be large enough for the fabric to move freely, or else you will not get solid colors. The pot will be expensive, and you should not plan on reusing it for food. Alternatively, you can contact Manhattan Samples, one of the custom dyers listed on my Find a Custom Dyer page; they are the only custom dyers I know who are willing to tackle polyester.

I have dyed polyester a light brown by boiling it at length with coffee, but the color is not going to survive many washings, and the coffee leaves a distinctive odor in the fabric.

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Posted: Tuesday - May 19, 2009 at 06:40 AM          

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