how to tie dye sport towels or swimmer/diver shammys
Name: Bobbi Jo
Region: MN, USA
Message: Hi Paula,
first of all love your site! your designs are beautiful. I am looking to tie dye sport towels or swimmer/diver shammys... just wondering how I should go about doing this. Ive seen in a few places that they have tie dyed them and they look great.
The key is to match the type of dye to the fiber content. Can you get these items made with a natural fiber such as cotton? Cotton towels are easy to tie-dye with the same Procion MX dyes used for most tie-dyeing. These are among the most wash-resistant of dyes, and they can be used at room temperature, much more easily than with any hot-water dye. All you have to do is buy a good tie-dyeing kit. (Don't ever buy the Rit tie-dye kit, because it contains all-purpose dye, but almost any other brand of tie-dye kit will contain good fiber reactive dye.)
Rayon is also good because it's made of cellulose and dyes like cotton. Bamboo towels are made of rayon. Buy just one as a sample and try dyeing it before you invest in a lot of them, because some bamboo fiber is chemically altered (acetylated) so that it does not dye well.
I think that diver's shammies are made of polyester fiber blends. (It doesn't mean anything about the fiber content when they describe it as "microfiber", since microfibers can be spun of various synthetic fibers.) You can dye the polyester portion of the blend with disperse dyes. They're a pain to use, compared to the cool water dyes used for tie-dyeing cotton, but it can work. See my page "Dyeing Polyester with Disperse Dyes"; read that page, and scroll down to find the link for ProChem's instructions for "Direct Application on Polyester". You can buy the dyes only buy mail-order, and ProChem is a good source.
Another option, if your towels are made of a synthetic fiber, is to make disperse dye iron-on transfers. Look at my page on "Iron-on Fabric Crayons for Synthetic Fibers".
None of the other options are as easy as dyeing cotton or rayon with Procion dyes, but they are possible.
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Posted: Sunday - October 11, 2009 at 10:16 AM