Fiber - Textile History & Techniques from Straw Into Gold

See TAN article reprint about history and chemistry of fiber reactive dyes here.

Surface Application Recipes for PROCION or other Fiber Reactive ("cold water" type) Dyes
Dyeing Cotton & Rayon

by Susan Druding

This is a recipe for a simple technique for printing or spraying Procion ICI, Chemicals Ltd. (fiber reactive cold water dyes) onto cotton, rayon, or silk fabrics, warp yarns, skeins of yarn, or fibers. This recipe can be used by spinners, weavers, knitters, quilters, or anyone who wants to apply color to fiber.


For simple immersion dyeing instructions for fiber reactive dyes - see here.

| Top of Page | Dye Safety | Materials | Spraying | Painting | Setting |

Dye Safety Note

Always be careful working with dye powders. Work in well-ventilated area and do not inhale powders. They are not poisonous, but they can irritate lungs. If working frequently with dye powder it is suggested you wear a mask or filter. Wear rubber gloves if you are getting dye on your hands while working. Disposable medical gloves are fine for this. If working with children, don't let them handle powdered dyes. Mix the dye liquids or pastes in advance for them.

Keep mixture cool for maximum life of dye solution. The dye is activated once you add the soda and the sooner you use it the stronger the colors will be.

For deepest colors use 3 teaspoons of dye powder per cup of urea water. Using more than this will waste dye and cause excessive color bleeding and staining of white areas of the fabric.

Dyes may be sprayed with spray bottles, brushed on with brushes or fabric /yarns may be dipped into the colors. Be careful not to mix the colors in the jars.

| Top of Page | Dye Safety | Materials | Spraying | Painting | Setting

  1. To set dyes after either spraying or applying in paste
    (use any of these following techniques):
  2. Steam iron for 5-10 min., rinse, wash, rinse (in cold water until clear)
  3. Hang fabric in hot steamy shower, iron, rinse, wash, rinse
  4. Steam in shower, toss in hot dryer, rinse, wash, rinse
  5. Use de-wrinkler at a laundromat where available, rinse, wash, rinse
  6. Take to professional high pressure steamer or autoclave, rinse, wash, rinse
  7. Steam in shower, wrap in plain butcher paper (not newspaper) and bake in slow over (250 degrees) for 30 min, rinse, wash, rinse

As you can see, the principle is one of moist heat to set dyes.

Do not expose undeveloped dyes to sunlight, do not dry in the sun as until they are set they can easily fade. You do not need to develop dyes immediately after applying color. It is OK to allow the dye paste to dry on the fabric before steaming or otherwise setting dyes. But, stronger colors will result if setting takes place within 1-3 days.

| Top of Page | Dye Safety | Materials | Spraying | Painting | Setting | Bottom of Page |

Refrigerate the dye solutions or pastes not used during initial session. You may re-vitalize them the next day with addition of more baking soda, but some color loss will have taken place. It is best to mix the amounts of solution or paste with baking soda that you can use in one day's session. The non-baking soda added solutions or paste will last several days if not contaminated with soda. (The soda starts the dye activation.)

1983 - 2012  Susan Druding
Not to be reproduced by any means, including electronic, without permission except for personal use.


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