My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Results of using old fibre reactive dyes with vinegar on silk fabric

I recently posted about testing some old fibre reactive dyes on cotton fabric.  The results were dismal, but instead of throwing the dye out, I decided to test something I had read somewhere about using old fibre reactive dyes with vinegar (turning them into acid dyes) and using them on silk.

Before and after rinsing photographs when the dye was used on cotton.
I have never used acid dyes on silk before so I had to look around for information on how to go about it.  The companies that sell dyes have pretty good information on their websites and if you google your question you'll come up with lots of opinions.

The general consensus seemed to be that acid dyes need heat to work.  So I soaked my silk scarf in vinegar (apple cider just because it was what I had around, but I'd probably recommend just using white vinegar!) I squeezed it out and poured on the dye solution, which I'd previously made up to my normal strength recipe with water.

Then I put the whole container in the microwave, loosely covered to avoid splashes and buzzed it on high for three minutes until it was boiling, let it rest for a few minutes and then buzzed it again for another two minutes.  I let it sit for a couple of hours and then began to rinse it.

And rinse it.

     and rinse it

        and rinse it.....

This photograph is after several days of rinsing, soaking overnight and rinsing again.  The water was still not clear after the last night of soaking but it was a lot better than it had been (and I'd lost patience by then).  The colour is deep and vibrant.

So, in conclusion:
  • old, exhausted, fibre reactive dyes that no longer work on cotton fabric will work as acid dyes on silk fabric, but,
  • the resulting colour does not appear to be as colourfast as fibre reactive dyes used with soda ash on silk (I use that combination on silk frequently with great results).
Now, I have only conducted one experiment on this so I'm no great expert.  I think I need to conduct some further trials with some of the other old dyes that I've been given, particularly trialling different colours as they can behave quite differently.

For further resources on dyeing fabrics, try:

Dharma Trading

Paula Burch

And, as Brenda suggested in the comments on my last dyeing post, Carol Soderlund is a bit of a dyeing legend and has great resources on her blog

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