Ya Gotta Keep Trying

I keep saying this to myself, as well as to others. I tried ONE MORE TIME to dye some deep colors on cotton. By the way, I am using “premium bleached muslin,” most probably from Joann’s. I am using Procion MX dyes from ProChem. And this time I followed (mostly) the instruction sheet from ProChem on “low immersion” dyeing. I wrote down three dye formulas for deep blue, deep forest green, and dark barn red. The red is not barn red, but the other two were almost exactly what I was looking for.


I am going to see how much I like using the fabrics I have dyed. Because the rinsing required is incredible. It is much more rinsing than anyone’s instructions I have heard or read. I think they know if they tell you how much you are going to have to rinse, it will scare you off.

Nevertheless, it makes me very happy that I was actually able to dye what I set out to dye.

12 thoughts on “Ya Gotta Keep Trying

    • I know–I love buying store-bought fabrics. The one advantage I can see for the hand-dyes is that for my raw edge appliqué, there is way less fraying than with the store-bought solid fabrics.

      • Good point. I’ve been increasingly disappointed on the solids available out there. What was once a quality fabric (Kona, ex.) has really slipped. I have been very pleased with Moda ‘Bella’ solids of late, though.

  1. Thanks for the tip yesterday on ProChem. The dark, even colors you achieved are fabulous. Regarding rinsing, Dharma Trading Co. sells “Dye Fixative” that I add to the last rinse water–after I’m sick and tired of rinsing–and leave it for half an hour. The water is still not perfectly clear, but better.

    • Thanks, Nancy. There was some color variation/mottling, but I really liked that. It looks hand-dyed. Good tip about the dye fixative. I’ll check it out.

  2. So funny, the ad that popped up on this post is for life insurance! Because it’s related to dying, LOL!! Sounds like you’re having a great time with the fabric dyes, and your colors are beautiful.

    • That is hilarious about the ad!

      I am having fun, and I am especially enjoying having a dedicated room with a laundry tub and plenty of counterspace to work.

  3. Reds are tricky – just look at how many shades (tomato, brick, barn) there are out there. You are coming along pretty quickly with this; love your perseverance!

  4. do you have to ‘set’ the colors in any way so they do not run later? I would worry most about the red. That is the one I have had trouble with on commercial fabrics.

    • Prochem sells two products–Synthrapol, and ReTayne that can be used both for hand-dyed and commercial fabrics. Dawn is supposed to be okay to substitute for the synthrapol. I might try the ReTayne the next time I order from ProChem.

  5. I have used salt to set colors in the past, depends on the dye. And I check the stead-fast-ness of my colors by washing with a white wash cloth. I also rub the dyed fabric (hard rub) on muslin to see if the color comes off that way.

    • According to all I have read, salt is a “leveling agent,” used mostly to achieve more evenly dyed colors on the fabric. You have to use soda ash with the MX dyes to set the colors. But there is always a lot of rinsing involved. Some commercial hand-dyers will advertise that their fabrics have been washed five times!

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