Is there a way to prevent a shirt tie-dyed with Rit dye from bleeding?

Name: Clair


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.

Jacquard Tie Dye Kit

Jacquard Tie Dye Kit

Dye up to 15 adult-size T-shirts, with vivid, electric colors that are so colorfast they can be washed with the daily laundry.

Message: My question is regarding dye bleeding on to my white areas. I want to tie dye a shirt using one color and a sunburst pattern. I did it recently and I used Rit dye in black. I let the shirt sit for about two hours and and then when I rinsed it the excess dye bled onto the white. Is there a way I can prevent from happening? Do I need to use a dye fixative?

No, it's too late. The real answer is to never use any brand of all-purpose dye, such as Rit or Tintex, for this sort of tie-dye design. It invariably bleeds onto the white. Instead, get a better dye.

The best dye for tie-dyeing cotton is fiber reactive dye, such as Procion MX dye. This is the kind of dye that is used in all good tie-dyeing kits. Go to a crafts store and look for a tie-dye kit made by Jacquard, Tulip, Rainbow Rock, or Dylon. For a single-color tie-dye, look for Dylon Permanent Dye or Tulip One Step Fashion Dye. Both come in an excellent black, as well as in other colors. Never use the Rit all-purpose dye tie-dye kit, because it contains inferior dyes that give poor results. All-purpose dye is just not very good on cotton, though it works pretty well on wool or nylon. To save a lot of money, as compared to Rit Dye, mail-order a tie-dye kit from Dharma Trading Company or PRO Chemical and Dye.

Rit all-purpose dye is a hot water dye. You cannot use all-purpose dye at room temperature and allow it to sit for two hours, and expect the dye to set permanently in the fabric. The best way to use all-purpose dye is to mix the dye with water, then cook the shirt in the dye on the stovetop. The ideal temperature for dyeing with all-purpose dye is a simmer, about 190°F.

If you apply all-purpose dye to cotton fabric at room temperature, instead of cooking the shirt in the dye, you must set the dye by steaming before you rinse it out at all. Once you have rinsed out the shirt, it's too late. You can wrap the shirt, still very wet with dye, in plastic wrap, then steam it in a lidded pot with boiling water, just as you would steam vegetables. This will not enable all-purpose dye to be nearly as good as fiber reactive dye, but it does help some.

Retayne, a dye fixative that works for Rit dye, will not work for a tie-dye when you do not want the dark colors to run onto the white. It works only when you can immerse the dyed fabric in water without worrying about the dye running. For example, if you dye a dress a solid color, you can then use the dye fixative. 

Do not attempt to use salt or vinegar as dye fixatives for Rit dye, because they do not work. Neither will the soda ash that works well for Procion dye. Instead, you must mail-order a cationic dye fixative. Retayne  is the best-known brand of this product. There is also a Rit brand dye fixative which is very similar to Retayne. Unfortunately, neither of them will be of any use at all for your situation, now that you have untied your shirt and rinsed it, because both Retayne and Rit Dye Fixative are applied in a large volume of very hot water. As soon as you immerse the shirt in the Retayne, the dye will run from one part of the shirt to another. You could have used Retayne or Rit Dye Fixative before you untied the shirt, and had acceptable results. Once you untied the shirt, though, it allowed the loose dye to transfer where you did not want it to go.

If you buy a higher-quality dye, and follow the instructions closely, you will get far better results. Inferior materials, such as all-purpose dye, ruin your project before you ever start it.

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Posted: Thursday - May 07, 2009 at 09:18 AM          

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