Dying Warp and Weft using Rit Dye Powder

This was an experiment in teal. According to the instructions on the box, one packet of Rit dye powder should be dissolved in three gallons of water (roughly 11 litres) and is sufficient for 3 yards of fabric.

I pushed my luck and dyed 155g of cotton warp, 2 metres of cotton fabric and a bit under 2 metres of undyed calico.

I prepared the fabric by scouring it for about 30 mins in pot of simmering water mixed with soap flakes and washing soda, with the objective of enhancing the fabric’s propensity to take up the dye. It’s what I learned when I did the shibori class.

My stainless steel dye pot has a capacity of maybe 9 litres. I followed the instructions faithfully other than the too small pot. The steps were:

  1. Heat a pot of water to almost boiling
  2. Mix the dye in separately in 2 cups of very hot water
  3. Add the dye mixture to the hot water
  4. Add 1 tbsp washing liquid and 1 cup salt
  5. Wet the fabric and yarn
  6. Stir for 30 mins or until the colour looks ok
  7. Rinse in warm and then gradually cooler water
  8. Wash in warm water with mild detergent and allow to dry
  9. Clean the pot with a solution of bleach

I skipped step 8 and did not wash the warp yarn as I didn’t feel like handwashing it and didn’t dare risking tangles by using the washing machine. As it happens, I got plenty of tangles anyway.

The results were good on the whole and for a first attempt. There  was a very small amount of spotting and streaking on the fabric and the uptake of colour on the warp was not as even as it could have been but it’s all usable.  I turned some ugly fabric into usable weft fabric. The photo, sadly, isn’t quite true.

I won’t be able to reliably measure the shrinkage on the 8/4 cotton warp but would guessimate it at less than 10%. Good thing I allowed for a bit extra.

What would I do differently next time?
I wound my warp into two skeins and bound each skein with several loose figure eight knots but the dye did not penetrate well to the threads that had been enclosed by the knots.  Maybe a looser knot would help or a double figure eight configuration.

How do you dye your warps?


6 responses to “Dying Warp and Weft using Rit Dye Powder

  1. Nice colour.

  2. Do you plan to use and wash what you dyed with Rit Dye? If so, be prepared for them to wash out in a year or so! I haven’t read your blog enough to know your dyeing experience, so I don’t mean to offend, but Rit Dye dyes everything and isn’t particularly colorfast.

    • Happy to have your input as dying is all new to me. I’m making rag rugs with my dyed warp and weft so would expect infrequent washing. I had expected *some* colour running to occur. What do you recommend for a more colour fast result?

  3. I have no idea what sort/brand of dyes you have in your part of the world. I use PRO MX/Procion dyes from ProChemical. They are more work to use but they are just for plant fibers and so they are light fast, color fast and wash fast. (Not like commercial fabrics, but as good as it gets for a home dyer.) I like to get red, yellow and blue so I can mix my own colors, but there are lots of great ones to choose from. ProChem has a lot of info as well, so you can see if you think it’s worth the time. I adore dyeing….

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