I-Dye experiments

For years I have been using I-Dye and I-DyePoly dyes to dye clothes, towels, sheets, etc in the washing machine, with pleasing results.  Not many people have purple jeans, but all mine end up with a purple look about them no matter what the original colour was.

The colour is evenly spread with little or no dark/light patches or mottles, rinses clean in a couple of rinses, and is colour fast.

Needing to dye large pieces of fabric in many colours, I decided to give it a go in the machne.

I-Dye packet

So I read the instructions again – as you should – then weighed the fabric.  Each packet of dye would dye about 10m of my cotton poplin.  So I cut the whole roll into 2.5m pieces (approx) which would give me a good 2m of finished dyed and cut fabric, allowing for a few cms shrinkage to occur.

Rolls of cotton poplin

2.5m lengths of fabric washed ready to dye

Colour 1 – True Red.  Hot water in the machine, drop in the dye packet and agitate a minute or so to get the dye well and truly dissolved – drop in the first piece of fabric, agitate about 10 mins, then add second piece, agitate 5 more minutes, and the same for third and fourth pieces.  Then agitate all for 5 more minutes to complete the 30 minute cycle before draining the machine.  The fabrics all looked the same shade with very little difference.

I caught a bucketful of the draining dye and put in 2 white pieces, 1m each, and left to soak overnight with no agitation.  They had a mottled look, yea! and were about two shades lighter than what had been in the machine.

red pastel in leftover dye

Okay, that experiment hadn’t worked as I had hoped – I had been looking for the second, third and fourth pieces to be a shade or two lighter than the first, because I assumed a lot of the dye would have been taken up by the first fabric, leaving less for the next piece and so on.

So think again, never assume …

Remembering that heat was necessary for the dye to be taken up, it was apparent that my hot water supply wasn’t hot enough for white fabric (it hadn’t mattered with already coloured clothes tho), and I wasn’t keen to do the stove top option.

I mixed up Bright Blue I-Dye in a screw top jar using not quite boiling water and stirred until the dye was completely dissolved.  This jar of liquid dye would dye about 10m altogether, so I poured a quarter of the jar over 2.5m of wet fabric, scrunched into a bucket, poked and prodded to make sure the dye had penetrated and left it to sit overnight.  This was full strength dye solution.

blues soaking in dye

Second piece of fabric, another quarter of dye solution with water added before pouring over the fabric – half water to 1 dye part.  Third piece – equal water and dye.  Fourth piece 2 water to 1 dye.

Then I did the same with Bright Yellow I-Dye.  I left all to soak overnight with no more agitation after the initial prodding.

This produced some lovely mottled fabrics, but a lot of the dye washed out and/or stained the ironing cloth.  (More rinsing)

Yellow in rinsing water

Back to square one, applying more heat – how about the microwave?

So I cut the fabrics in half (a bit over the metre now), scrunched wet fabric into microwave proof bowls, poured over the dyes, in the combinations mentioned earlier, and cooked them on high – up to 6 minutes per half metre and maximum of 10-12 mins for the full metre.  Checking after 7 or 8 minutes to see if there is any dye left in the water under the fabric.  Any colour in the liquid and put back in for another minute or two, always being careful not to let the fabric get too dry and scorch!

I-Dyes I used for this method were True red, Fire red, Bright Yellow, Golden Yellow, Bright Blue, Royal Blue, Purple, Gun Metal and Ecru.

Mixed dyes

I used the same dilutions as before, results gave not much pastel, all good strong colours, so I need to dilute even more.  BUT they are all colour fast now.

Salt is usually added after the fabric when done in the washing machine, but with this method I added the salt to the soaking water, and a splash of vinegar to the diluted mix being poured over the fabric.  All very scientific!  The What-if principles were definitely at work here, I don’t know for sure what/why but something did work.  Lots of great texture markings on the fabrics.

Great textures on fabrics


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