Oh, how I love blue!?! ‘Not quite sure why, but I don’t really think this should be considered as ‘tie dye’. Visions of a full rainbow colours is not my idea of a sophisticated design dyeing. Think of this as the ‘cousin’ of Shibori; The New Modern Tie Dye Instructions
The Marvellous Colour:
When I first embarked on tie-dye projects I sadly used some department store dye before I discovered the awesome ‘Fibre Reactive Dyes‘! It has been my ‘go to’ dye when I want ‘easy’ use and super permanent results. Be careful when buying tie dye kits as well.
My duvet cover and pillows are still my favourite and have held colour perfectly for years. I look at the colours available from Procion and Dharma and still end up with my favourite dark rich blue; navy.
Blue becomes a tint (lighter) without looking wimpy as red would. It always looks fresh and clean, probably since it is such a cool colour. No one has ever really found a better colour for blue jeans in all those years so I am going with that!
The small jars do yield a lot (3/4 ounce) of dye powder but 1 pound will make me happy for quiet a long while!
Be aware that this dye can only be used on natural cellulose fibres like cotton, rayon, hemp, bamboo, linen, tencel. (wool or silk (protein) can be used under acidic conditions) It will not dye polyester fabric, however it will dye a lighter colour if it is a blend of cotton and polyester.
My Unique ‘Hot’ Application:
This one-step method is different than the usual method of making diluted dye mixtures, it involves applying a hot diluted solution of soda ash that has been heated to activate the dry dye.
The Amazing Sinew:
At firs I used elastic or rubber bands but have since given up on that. They break too easily and can not be tight enough to get some strong definition in prints. Get yourself some Sinew, as it is the absolute best way to get really tight ties. It is waxed and artificial but can also be reused.
Some sort of ‘bar’ or handle is best to aid in pulling as tight as possible. If you pulling the sinew with your fingers they will be hurt easily. The pulling handle gives the leverage needed.
The Hot Modern Tie Dye Setup:
- Since this method uses a supply of heated solution a small Crock Pot will be convenient.
- At mesh or wire rack over a tray will catch any extra drips.
- Soda Ash (Washing Soda) aka Sodium Carbonate from the laundry aisle.
- Fibre Reactive Dye or dye kits
- Your Fabric (natural cellulose) and tieing Sinew
- Temperature Gun
- SAFETY- *Gloves* *Dust Mask*
- Protected table/work surface
The ‘Secret’ to the Tieing:
The most important thing; tie tight! I have been tieing many many things (bedding, fabric, t-shirts, scarves) and hate it when I can not get it tight enough or when my fingers start to get cuts! My fingers get so tired of knots as well. Let me tell you that ‘Sinew‘ is the answer! Nowadays you will only find the artificial one but it works great! As a way of applying leverage use a small strong rigid piece of pipe or dowel to be able to grip and pull like ‘mad’.
Pull the section of fabric (circle or random sections) and wrap the sinew around 3-5 times. At that point you can now pull it very hard using the ‘pipe’ (wrapped around the pipe few times or rolled on it) as your leverage ‘gripper’. The wax on the Sinew will stick to itself and not uncoil. Depending on the brand give it a few more wraps and pull super tight. Once it stays put it is good to go. I usually err on the side of caution and give extra wraps. It is these tight wraps that will give the best resists of colour for white lines.
To continue on to the next wrap I leave a long extra ‘tail’ and do not cut it. Start another wrapping, spiral and repeat. When done it will have extra lengths between ‘ties’ to allow manipulating of the fabric.
I take inspiration from nature’s geodes so I like the random look, I twist more sections to tie; each creates a geode ‘ring’.
The Hot Dye Solution Application:
The soda ash to water ratio is 1/2 cup to 1 gallon water. Heat it on high until it hits the temperature between 160 degrees F and 180 degrees F and then turn to medium. The temperature gun is great for keeping an eye on it.
Fibre reactive dyes use Soda Ash as an aid in adhering the dye to the fibres. In this case it is also mixed with the powdered dye. Mix 2 parts soda ash to one part dye together. If you are concerned that they will react, mix them just before use.
Small glass vials allow better control of application and less dust. **Do wear a dust mask when working with open dye powders.
Wetting Out the Dye:
Here we go… colour! The garment/fabric does not need to be wet. If it is wet the patterns will be slightly softer edged than if it is a dry fabric.
Using the siphon action of the syringes pull the solution from the crock pot and apply immediately over the dry dye areas.
There really is no wrong or right here. The patterns will be quite forgiving so don’t be too concerned. It will dilute; lighter colour with more solution and stronger colour with less solution. I like dark definition of the ties so add the dye next to the ties and then wet out. (see the small stream from the syringe above)
Keep adding dye and wetting out. Keep in mind that there is much fabric that is not visible since it’s tied very tight. My first tie dyes were quite light since I was fooled at how much the dye had really penetrated the fabric.
To get an idea use a gloved finger to separate folds to see how deep the colour has wicked. Squeeze the dye through the layers as well.
Once you are happy with one side, carefully flip the piece and fill in any extra white as desired. Any excess will collect in the tray below. Wipe up spills with rags/paper towels immediately.
Since the solution is hot you may skip the waiting of the batching (letting it sit for 24 hours or less if heated) Depending on the size I will sometimes give myself extra reassurance by popping it in a plastic bag and microwaving for a couple minutes. Once cooled it is good to go…
If you want to keep a major section un-dyed make sure to wrap it carefully before starting in a bag or plastic wrap. It is too easy to get a drip of dye!
Get ready for the Magic:
Place the tied piece under running cool water until it runs clear and excess dye is washed out. Once clear you can find the end tail of the sinew and begin the untieing (wrap back around your pipe if you want to reuse it). Wear rubber gloves!
This is the magical part! It has somewhat of a mind of it’s own so there can be some amazing surprises! See the defined lines of these ‘Blue Geodes’! You can only get such white lines if you tie ‘crazy-tight’ with sinew! After rinsing wash in a hot soapy water to make sure any residual/excess dye gets washed away. It’s hard to stop looking at the great patterns… and looking through your closet for anything close to white…
I’m in love… and my wardrobe may become totally blue. That’s ok, it will all match and will be great with my jeans and Upcycled Jeans Jacket. Nope I’m not a hippy, and this doesn’t really look like tie dye… What do you think?
Sometimes it’s better to keep it simple. There’s many of my ways to dye…