Which dye type would be best to dye silk curtains with cotton/rayon fringe in a home setting?

Name: Lisa


Procion mx fiber reactive cold water dye

Procion MX Dye

ideal for cotton, rayon, linen, and silk

When mixed with soda ash, 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.


50,000 discount craft supplies
Rit dye liquid 8 fl oz royal blue

Rit Dye Liquid

Rit Dye Liquid is a hot water dye which can dye different natural fibers at the same time. Like other all-purpose dyes, it is much less permanent than Procion dye in the wash.


Country: United States

Message: Which dye type would be best to dye silk curtains with cotton/rayon fringe in a home setting?

Are the curtains washable? You can't dye anything that is not washable.

Washing fringe can be a problem. It inevitably tangles badly in the washing machine, and takes hours to disentangle and straighten out with a comb (though it helps to apply fabric softener and work with it wet). It is best to avoid the washing machine when washing anything with fringe, and the same goes for dyeing. This is a shame, because the best way to dye washable curtains is in a top-loader washing machine, unless you're interested in tie-dyeing or low water immersion dyeing. (The latter can be much more beautiful than dyeing a solid color, and it's much easier, too.)

As far as dyeing silk and cotton or rayon fringe the same color, there are two options. One is to use Procion MX dye, in any of their single-hue unmixed dye colors, with soda ash to fix the dye. Silk and cotton will turn out the same color if dyed with an unmixed dye color, but they will turn out different colors if dyed with a color mixture such as green or brown. (Cotton and rayon dye alike.) Use low water immersion dyeing for interesting mixed colors, or dye in a huge bucket (see the washing machine dyeing page for recipes), with a great deal of stirring, for a solid color.

The other option is to use all-purpose dye, such as Rit. Unfortunately, all-purpose dye has some major drawbacks. It can be expensive to buy enough boxes of all-purpose dye to color a big project, since each box dyes only about a half pound of fabric (though it will dye more fabric if you want a pale color). Weigh your curtains, dry, to find out how many pounds of fabric you have to dye. Worse, all-purpose dye tends to fades quickly in the wash. However, you won't be washing your curtains a great many times, so that probably won't matter to you. All-purpose dye may be a good choice for this project. Unlike Procion dye, it will not work at room temperature; it works best when applied in an enormous cooking pot, heated to 190°F. (It's best to plan never to reuse the pot for food preparation after using all-purpose dye in it.) It can, however, be used in very hot tap water (140°F), carefully following the dye manufacturer's instructions, if washfastness is not a concern. (The use of cationic fixatives such as Retayne to increase the washfastness of all-purpose dye should be avoided for situations in which light fading is an issue, obviously including most curtain locations.)

Whatever dye you choose, be sure to wash the curtains very thoroughly before you attempt to dye them. Invisible stains will repel dye, resulting in uneven dyeing. Failure to stir frequently enough during the dyeing process will also result in uneven coloration. 

Also note that the current color of the curtains is critical. White curtains can be dyed any color, but red curtains cannot be dyed green, nor blue curtains orange. Since all dyes are transparent, the original color of the dye will combine with the color of the dye you add, sometimes resulting in a completely different color. This will follow the same rules as mixing paint colors.

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Posted: Monday - January 11, 2010 at 10:19 AM          

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