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How to Do Immersion Dyeing with Fiber Reactive Dyes

Learn how to do immersion dyeing with fiber reactive dyes in this Howcast video about tie dyeing.


One of the techniques that you can use for tie dyeing is called emerging dyeing and that's the most simple, easy to prepare of the dyeing techniques. It pretty much consists in preparing a dye vat in which you fully submerge the fabric.

I'm going to explain you how to prepare a dye bath using fiber reactive dyes. First you start by picking your color and the color that I picked today is aqua, which will be a really cool bright blue. You're supplier will normally tell you how much you need to use but I sometimes don't totally follow the recipe so I like to start with little and then take a look at it and add more if I want the color to be stronger. But yeah, use less if you want a really subtle tones, use a lot if you want really dark colors.

So using my measuring spoon I'm going to start by adding a little bit more than a quarter of a teaspoon to a little bit of water and I'm going to use a whisker to really mix it well. In the meantime, you also want to start soaking the fabric that you already tied and bundled with the pattern that you want to use. As an example, I used some rubber bands and I did a knot. So I'm going to soak it in water. The fibers always need to be wet before any dyeing technique. This just allow the dye to more easily penetrate in the fabric and then you'll just get the better dyeing result.

While the fabric soaks, we're going to prepare our next step and that is to prepare the activator solution. For the activator, we're using soda ash or washing soda. The quantity that I'll use is a proportion of the water and your supplier will also provide you the recipe for this but just as a general note for a poundof fabric you normally use a gallon of water and for a gallon of water you'll use five teaspoons of washing soda.

So I'm going to prepare my activator solution. And washing soda really likes to dissolve in hot water so make sure you have hot water available. You really won't dissolve in cold water so always pre-dissolve it. And I'm going to use the same whisker and that is fine. Nothing bad will happen. And you just want to make sure that it is fully dissolved.

It will look a little cloudy and milky in the beginning but then, once it's fully dissolved, will look more transparent. Going to let it sit here for a while and I'm going to remove and ring out my fabric that is now fully wet. And I'm going to add all the ingredients to the dye bath. First the dye. Use the whisker too to make sure that it's really dissolved and then my dye activator. And stir it well to make sure that it's all mixed together.

And at this point, you're ready to put your fabric in and just put it making sure that all of it is fully submerged. In the beginning, you might want to help it with your hands or with some tongs or even the whisker because fabrics tend to float and you want it to be totally underneath the water.

After that you just wait for one hour and during this time, this one hour, the dye will just connect with the fiber and fix to it. So after one hour you can rinse it, dry it and wear it and it's done.

I have an example here of the same colors so you can see how it would look like after this one hour. So this is how this aqua color will look like and it's totally fixed.

So this is how you do immersion dye bath using fiber reactive dyes.

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