Low Immersion Dyeing

I won “The Complete Photo Guide to Textile Art” by Susan Stein quite a while back from Lindsey on the Craftside blog. The book includes over 40 techniques with wonderful step-by-step pictures and clear instructions.

While planning my dyeing day a couple weeks ago I looked through this book to see what sounded like fun. I decided to try low immersion dyeing.

Low Immersion Dyeing Fabric

Low Immersion Dyed Fabric

I’m using fiber reactive dyes. When mixing these dyes, it’s important to wear a mask and gloves. Check out this old post about these dyes and precautions to take.

First we need to prepare the dye concentrate. I added 2 tablespoons of dye to one cup of warm water.

Adding  dye to warm water

Adding dye to jar

Pour water into jar.

Adding warm water to dye powder

Adding warm water to dye powder

Stir and mix and you have the dye concentrate.

Dye concentrates

Dye concentrates

However, we’re not done yet. Now add 1/4 cup of salt to each of the dye concentrates and stir.

Adding salt to dye concentrate

Adding salt to dye concentrate

In eight plastic cups I poured in the dye concentrate solution.  For four of the cups I added a fourth cup of dye concentrate and the other four I added a half cup of dye concentrate. I then filled all of the plastic cups with water to equal 1 cup of liquid each.

Now to the fabric. Fabric must be washed and then soaked in soda ash before dyeing. For this dyeing, I soaked my clean muslin fat quarters in the soda ash for 30 minutes.

Grabbing wet muslin from soda ash soak

Grabbing wet muslin from soda ash soak. (Please notice gloves.)

Then I wrung them out and placed each fat quarter in a separate gallon bag for a total of eight bags.

Adding fabric to gallon bags

Fabric in gallon bags

Next I poured one of the cups of dye into each bag.

Pouring dye into gallon bag

Pouring dye into gallon bag

I used four colors for these pieces: Parakeet, Goldfinch, Dragon Fruit and Orchid – all Dharma Fiber Reactive dyes. So for each color, there were two shades (two pieces) per color except for the Parakeet. I am not used to dyeing just one color so I had to add a little Orchid to that last piece.

After pouring the dye in the bag, I scrunched them a little just to make sure the dye covered the material.

Scrunching  the bag a little.

Scrunching the bag a little

Here they are all lined up and waiting for 24 hours before I rinse them and then wash and dry the fabric.

Bags all lined up and waiting

Bags all lined up and waiting

And the final results:

Low Immersion Dyeing Fabric

Low Immersion Dyed Fabric

You can see that the top fabric has some Orchid added to it. Also, because I used 1/4 and 1/2 cup of dye, I could really tell the difference in the materials. The orchid doesn’t show a difference in the dye strength, but the other three colors you can definitely see the shade difference.

I love how these turned out. I love the texture. This was an easier technique. Once the dye mixing was finished, all I had to do was pour it in the bags. I want to do more of this and try adding two colors to the bags like I did on the last piece.

One thing Susan emphasizes in this book that there are different ways to dye depending on whose book you read or workshop you attend. She encourages the reader to do their own testing on what works best for them. One thing I did differently and will change next time is adding the salt to the concentrate. It would have worked better had a added the salt to the individual cups which Susan intended. I just read it wrong. Using the plastic cups worked out great. Even though they are disposable, I’ve rinsed them and will reuse them.

If you have any tips for low immersion dyeing, I’d love to hear them. Tomorrow, I’ll show you what I did with the rest of the dye concentrate.

 

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