looking for a way to dye cotton fabric curtains from white to ivory in the washing machine

Name: barb
Message: Hi, I'm looking for a way to dye cotton fabric curtains from white to ivory in the washing machine. I have only found "eru" and "tan" RIT dyes. I think these will be too brown. Do you have any suggestions on where I can locate an "ivory colored dye" or what natural substance I might use.

The difference between "brown" dye and "ivory" is simply in quantity. To get a suitably pale shade, just use a tiny fraction of the amount of dye, perhaps one-tenth as much as recommended, or even less. You might prefer a more yellowish color, however, perhaps using half "tan" and half "yellow".

On the other hand, the dye you propose to use, all-purpose dye, tends to wash out of cotton rather quickly. The correct usage for all-purpose dye on cotton is to submerge the fabric in a scalding hot dyebath of 190 degrees fahrenheit for half an hour or longer. Using all-purpose dye in cooler water tends to result in dye that washes out. Fiber reactive dye is vastly superior. You can mail-order Procion MX or Cibacron F type fiber reactive dye from companies such as PRO Chemical and Dye (see my list of dye suppliers); this dye is much less expensive, per pound of fabric dyed, than the all-purpose dye sold in little boxes in grocery stores.

For most purposes, I would strongly recommend that you avoid the use of all-purpose dye in the washing machine, but for merely turning white fabric to ivory, any sort of dye should be adequate. (Some people even use tea for this purpose - see "How to Tea Dye".) If the dye washes out after a few launderings, you can always repeat the process.

Posted: Thursday - October 21, 2004 at 12:41 PM          

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