Paula Burch's All About Hand Dyeing

Low water immersion dyeing (third example)

September 2, 1998

Silk shirt and skirt

photo of silk top and skirt detail of silk shirt

This silk set was dyed by the low water immersion method, using sodium carbonate to fix the dyes just as with cotton.

To see the full-size images and much more detail, click on the small images!

How I did it

  1. I crumpled each piece and stuffed one into each leg of a pair of pantyhose, so as to enhance the crumpled detail, then jammed the two legs into the bottom of a 2.5 pound coffee can (lined with a plastic bag).
  2. Next, I mixed 4 teaspoons Procion turquoise into 1 cup of water, adding 1 tablespoon urea (quite unnecessarily). After pouring that into the can, I repeated this with 1 cup of dye solution made with two teaspoons of cerulean blue, and finally did the same with 1 cup of dye solution prepared with a mixture of 1 teaspoonful of cerulean blue and 1 teaspoon of fuchsia. (Note to self: always *halve* quanitites of fuchsia in the future.)
  3. After allowing the colors to mix and blend, without agitation or stirring of any sort, for about an hour, I added a cup of water containing 4 teaspoons of sodium carbonate (which I'd dissolved in boiling water and allowed to cool.)
  4. Just three hours and forty minutes later--not 24 to 48 hours as many authors recommend--I machine washed the dress in first cold, then warm water. I regret the later now, as the cotton thread (which dyed beautifully) shrank slightly in the warm water, whereas the silk, of course, did not; this resulted in light puckering of the material, almost requiring that the outfit be ironed before use. I do not iron clothes. I machine wash and dry everything on gentle at low temperatures, normally, and never have to dry clean or iron anything.

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Page created: September 5, 1998.
Last updated: Saturday, September 5, 1998;
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