Beyond the Tie-Dye Kit - Questions on Mixing/Concentration
  • Hi there. I've purchased and used probably a dozen of the tie-dye kits. Love them. Decided it was time to buy larger quantities of dye and try some different colors. I have a few questions, though...

    First, I know the general rule is 2 (or more) teaspoons of dye per 8oz., with the darker colors needing more dye. However, it seems that if the containers are filled by weight, not volume, and settling could occur, shouldn't I be weighing the dye powder instead of measuring by the teaspoon? If that's the case, what would you say the typical teaspoon is equal to in weight? I'd like to be able to reproduce colors from one session to another.

    Second, I have the Jaquard mixing chart. I think I bought all 11 of the true/base colors, thinking I could mix from there. But the mixing document is in black and white, so how do I know what "Berry Sorbet" is supposed to look like? Is there a poster I can purchase or an image online where I can see all of these? And, the chart doesn't say what amount of water the recipes are for. I assumed 8oz, but when I did this, my colors seemed WAY too saturated/dark. Bubble Gum pink was almost red.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
  • Hello,

    You are right that weighing is better than measuring by volume. Most people do not have a scale that will measure like that, so they have to make due.

    A tablespoon is almost exactly 15 grams, so 3teaspoons per tablespoons means that a teaspoon should be approximately 5 grams.

    The mixing chart is a big problem for me. I would really like to make a more accurate one that has many more mixtures and pictures to go with it. I am working on 10 other projects right now, so while it is something I have planned, I won't be able to do it very soon.

    The mixing chart is done in parts, so it is not specific to amounts. You choose the shade you want based on the instructions in the procion, which I think are pretty accurate and actually hold true for tie dye as well even though it says it is for 3 gallons of water. You can dissolve the amounts in 8oz of water.

    General amounts of dye, salt and soda ash per 3 gallons of water and one pound of fabric:
    For very pale shades:
    ¼ to ½ teaspoon dye, 1½ cups salt, ¼ cup soda ash
    For light shades:
    ½ to 1 teaspoon dye, 1½ cups salt, ¼ cup soda ash
    For medium shades:
    1 tablespoon dye, 1½ cups salt, ¼ cup soda ash
    For darker shades:
    2 tablespoons dye, 2 cups salt, ¼ cup soda ash
    For darkest shades:
    4 tablespoons dye, 3 cups salt, ¹/³ cup soda ash

    4 tablespoons the darkest shades ends up = 60 grams, a lb is 453 grams, so 60/453= 13.2% that is really heavy with the dye. You don't need to go that heavy usually. I might use it for black. Generally, you do not want to exceed 8% dye per lb of dry fabric weight. The fabric just can't hold any more dye than that.

    So first decide on how dark you want to dye it and take that total amount, say 2 tablespoons or 60 grams. Then you see it says for Tangerine for instance 11 parts Bright Yellow and 6 parts fire engine red. You divide 60 grams by 17 to get one part, and then multiply by 11 to get the amount of Yellow and by 6 to get the amount of fire engine red.

    So 60/16=3.75 grams so 11x3.75=41.25grams of Yellow or 8 and 1/4 teaspoons
    and 6x3.75= 22.5grams of fire engine red or 4 and 1/2 teaspoons

    Does that make more sense?

    We should start a thread of formulas for dye mixing for people's favorite colors!



  • Thanks so much! So, when I understand the teaspoon/grams equivalency, the "parts" method makes much more sense. But I think I need to take a step back to basics.

    I think most of the containers say 2t or more of dye per 8oz water (I know I tend to overthink, but it seems because of settling, the containers should really give a weight, and should be slightly different for each color, since I know some are likely more dense than others. I digress.)

    So, I get confused with figuring out the dye-per-pound of dry fabric versus adjustments for how dark I want the end result. When you say how "dark", do you mean how "saturated"? This trips me up, too, because you have Jet Black and Robin's Egg Blue. I'm assuming that if I fill an 8oz bottle of water with 2 teaspoons of Jet Black and 2 teaspoons of Robin's Egg Blue, I will have a very light black/grey and a very saturated blue. So it seems 2t is maybe a median, with more or less needed depending on the basic intensity of the hue?

    And then it seems there is the how-much-fabric factor as well, along with the question of concentration of the solution. If I had just 2 teaspoons of dye in a bathtub full of water and soaked a t-shirt in that, it seems like the end result would be less saturated than if I have 2 teaspoons of the same color in an 8oz bottle of water and squirt the entire bottle out to saturate the shirt with just that amount.

    This is why I kind of get a bit lost when I read the following:

    You choose the shade you want based on the instructions in the procion, which I think are pretty accurate and actually hold true for tie dye as well even though it says it is for 3 gallons of water. You can dissolve the amounts in 8oz of water.

    In the paragraph above, what do you mean by "the instructions in the procion"? I will have to look back at my jar (I've only bought the 2/3 oz containers thus far but have some 8oz containers on the way), but I don't remember seeing anything about 3 gallons. And the second sentence about 3 gallons vs dissolving in 8oz goes back to the bathtub analogy.

    I'm so sorry to be a pain, I just want to understand this! My basic plan is to buy more "mixed" colors for now, and use a about 2-3 or 4 teaspoons of dye per 8oz bottle I mix up (which is probably the amount I would mix of a color at any one time), depending on how dark or light the hue is. I also know that there is only a certain amount of dye an article of clothing can absorb, but really, if I'm applying it in the 8oz bottle I mix up, and I'm saturating the fabric but not over and over so I have 3 cups of dye runoff, I'll probably be okay. If I really want to try mixing, I should think about the how light or dark the end color is that I want, think about the 2-4 teaspoon guide, and mix parts accordingly. I have a kitchen scale and may weigh the dye once I get to the point where I really want to reproduce the same color, but until then I'll stick with measuring by volume.

    Last thing (again, sorry)... Salt. I am not using salt. Do I need to? I wash with a bit of synthrapol, do at least a 20 minute soak in a soda ash solution, wring and tie, then whatever I apply from the 8oz dye bottles, then wrap in plastic and place in a warm spot for 24 hours, when I rinse in cool water and wash in warm-hot with a bit of synthrapol again. Sound like a good process?

    THANK YOU for all your help!
    Mari
  • And yes! A "recipe" thread would be great! :)
  • There is nothing wrong with your process. You have it down pretty well. I referred to procion instructions, and there are more detailed ones here:

    http://jacquardproducts.com/procion-mx.html

    As to the intensity. You picked 2 examples that are very telling. Robins egg blue, and black. Robins egg is a pastel color, and what you would find if you tried to go from very light to very dark is that that specific color is a very low concentration dye. You would have to use 4-5 bottles to get max intensity of the Robins egg. The black on the other hand is a much more concentrated color and has to be to actually get black. So, it is very difficult to compare across colors like that. Ecru is an incredibly light brown, so it will not compare in intensity to brown. So each color has to be judged by itself to some degree, but the medium shades should correspond pretty well with the color card on the webpage. You definitely need more dye to achieve a good black, but that is because if it is not jet black it is grey. You are getting much more actual color in the black than in the Robins egg.

    As to the water. It is a rule of thumb that you use the same amounts for 3 gallons and 8 oz for 2 different processes. You need much less dye for immersion dyeing where the fabric stays under water for an hour. You need more dye if you want to just squirt the dye on from a bottle. This is because you get much more of an opportunity for the dye to attack in the immersion method than you do for tie dye. If you are looking for great dye intensity, a good additive to the tie dye solution is urea. It will make your tie dye brighter.

    http://jacquardproducts.com/urea.html

    Urea will have greater impact than the salt, but if you want maximum color, you can add salt too.
  • Thanks so much! So there are guidelines, but that fluctuates a lot depending on the inherent intensity of the hue. The comments on the immersion vs tie dye helped a lot also; I don't know that I'd seen the actual comparison of 3 gallons immersion and 8 oz tie dye, but it makes sense if you're squirting a small amount versus soaking for an hour. Even if I let the tie dye sit for 24 hours, if the dye is mixed at the same concentration, the piece in the immersion is likely going to be exposed to more dye particles.

    Again, thank you! Also, I just ordered some urea to experiment with. And, I ordered Elin Noble's book, Dyes & Paints, which I hear is a good resource.