Once you start exploring the world of dyes you will realise there are lots of different ways to use dyes, numerous recipes and lots of ways to make it sound complicated! But it’s not really very difficult at all and it is loads of fun.
I mainly use Procion dyes for thread, lace and fabric. Even things like shells and shell, wood and coconut fibre buttons can be dyed with procion dyes.
There are many resources online that provide information on fibre reactive Procion dyes which can be used on natural fibres such as cotton, linen, jute, ramie, sisal, rayon, wool and silk. Bright, permanent colours are easily achieved that are intermixable, or if you want, you can easily over dye. They are considered non-toxic when used properly.That said always take care when working with dye powders. Use a well-ventilated area and wear a mask so you do not inhale powders. Always wear gloves. (Use disposable medical gloves as they work fine and you can still feel through them) Take note of these safety instructions.
I have a round up of online resources and information below.
Resources, recipes and tips online
This page of general information on fibre reactive dyes by Paula E. Burch is a good introduction to the subject.
Hand Dyeing – How to Do It : basic recipe for Procion MX dyes on cellulose or silk by Paula E. Burch covers the basics
Simplified Procion Instructions by Susan Druding also covers the basics
Immersion dyeing instructions is clearly written.
Don’t miss browsing Paula Burch’s All About Hand Dyeing as it is an extremely comprehensive site about hand dyeing.
Procion immersion dye instructions: This article gives you basic instructions and instructions on how to make a gel which enables you to print with dye.
Surface Application Recipes for Procion or other Fiber Reactive (“cold water” type) Dyes by Susan Druding gives instructions on how to make a paste which means you can print with dyes or spraying dyes.
Stef Francis has information about hand dyeing on her site
For man made fibres I use Disperse dyes Sometimes these dyes are known as transfer dyes.
This information sheet explains how to use disperse dyes
I also have this tutorial on using Disperse dyes to do heat transfer printing
I get asked where I get my dyes from. I use a firm in Australia called KraftKolour. I am not affiliated with them in any way – nor do gain any commission but have been a happy customer for over a decade. Their website is currently closed as the Victorian bush fires have effected their business. I hope they are up and running soon.
For other parts of the world Paula Burch has put together a a comprehensive list of Sources for Dyeing Supplies Around the World
This post has been provoked by an few emails from readers asking how I dye my threads and lace. Questions are falling into two categories.
The first type of question is about hand dying in general and I think these resources provided by people who are far more knowledgeable on the subject will answer those questions. If you know of other online resources please feel free to leave a comment.
The second type of question is how I actually prepare and handle threads in order to dye them. Questions such as how I avoid tangles etc in the dyeing process.
Here is a tutorial on Skeining off threads to dye