19 January 2010

Dye Dye Dye

I started this blog mostly to talk all about dye and I’ve yet to say anything about dye!

Why? Well, there is too much to say; too many places I could begin.  So, I guess I will begin by just talking about what dye I use and where to buy it.

I use Procion dye (a.k.a.  fiber reactive dye. )  Procion dye is what most of the garment industry uses for their cottons.  It is permanent and awesome.  It is not longer patented, so it can be found at many places under many names.  It is almost always referred to as Procion dye in the product description, if not the actual title.  Look for it with other cotton & plant dyes.  Online, you’ll find it at Dharma Trading Co. (as Fiber Reactive Procion Dye) and PRO Chemical & Dye (as Pro MX Reactive Dye).  Jacquard doesn’t seem to have an online store, but you’ll see that brand in many art supply stores.  I’ve priced out dye in the online shops and everything seems to have basically the same price. I have no preference from brand to brand.

I actually own very few colors of dye.  I have some custom colors  (gray, ecru, brown) but  I usually mix my own colors from primary colors (red, blue, yellow---see specifics below).  I learned how to do this from the book  “The New Color Wheel Fabric Dying” by Katy Widger. Elizabeth of “Oh, Fransson!” tipped me off to this book in this blog post, which shows some of the results you can get with the color wheel dying.

In addition to great trouble-shooting information, “The New Color Wheel Fabric Dying” demonstrates how to get an almost infinite variety of colors from red, blue, yellow, and black dyes. You can buy “The New Color Wheel Fabric Dying” directly from Katy’s website.

With Katy’s permission, I’m reprinting the primary colors for the three main manufacturers of Procion dyes:
Dharma #: Lemon Yellow 1, Fuchsia Red 13, Cerulean Blue 23, Jet Black 250
ProChem #: PRO Yellow 108, PRO Red 308, PRO Blue 406, PRO Black 602A
Jacquard Procion® MX #:  Yellow MX-8G, Fuchsia Red MX-8B, Blue MX-G (no black is listed).
(full disclosure: I don’t own black dye yet)

Word of advice: if you are anything like me, you have a tendency to want to buy a whole bunch of supplies for a particular craft right away.  In my experience, this is bad. Going into a new craft, it is often impossible to know whether I’ll do it for a wee bit and then be done or if my excitement about it will continue.  So, I always try to buy minimal supplies at first, thus keeping myself from spending hard-earned money on stuff I’ll be over in a month.  If you aren’t sure how into dye you are, I would start by buying one or two small (2 oz) tubs of dye and some soda ash.  (Soda ash is the stuff that helps the dye bond to the fabric.)  I started with brown and gray.  In my experience, procion dyes can get very bright very fast, so keep that in mind when selecting hues. I have some "bright green" that I suspect is manufactured in the center of the sun.

Another “budget check” that I do in regards to crafting is that I really try to limit the number of books I purchase.  When I started dyeing, I read several library books on the subject.  That's how I learned the basics.  I own just two books on dyeing, Katy’s book (mentioned above) and Malka Dubrawsky’s book (she uses the same dyes and does batik stuff, too).

There is a lot of information on both ProChem and Dharma’s websites.  (However, it is a bit overwhelming at first, so probably not the best place to start.)

Okay, so now I’ve begun to talk about dye!  Yay!  In my next dye post I will talk about how to prepare a basic dye bath.

In the meantime, I have a question, do you know any other blogs that talk about dye?  I’m trying to make a list of them.  So far, this is what I’ve got:

Frequently talk about dye:
Stitch in Dye
Simply Robin
Dye Candy

Sometimes talks about dye:
Oh, Fransson!

Thank you!


  1. It's been a while since I did any dying. A friend on mine teaches it so I've done some with her. And last year I had a few natural dying experiments. I'm looking forward to relearning a bit more.

  2. more print-making than dying


  3. thanks for sharing-i just added your 'pledge' badge to my blog. i'm a newbie dye enthusiast-my naive dye process can be found here: gisellenolan.blogspot.com

  4. Hey Rossi, great blog!! I recently decided to make a landscape quilt and, working from photos of the featured tree species I want to depict, chose a selecton of solid Kona Cottons...my base palette. Since there are few fabric stores here, and it is not very practical to hunt up coordinating prints, it occurred to me I could add variety to my solids by custom dying fat quarters cut from them. Any thoughts on that strategy, hints or tips??



Chime in! (I like chimes!)