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To Dye For
by Lora Hart

Facts | Tools | Safety | Rumple

Underwear as outerwear is as popular today as when Madonna first dared to bare it in the 80's. But now it's better, brighter and finally more socially acceptable. So go get some moody blues, mellow yellows and deep purples and tie (dye) the Age of Aquarius to the New Millennium.

Just the facts, ma'am
There are many, many ways to color textiles, so don't get tied down by these limitations. Be inventive. Experiment, and tell me all about your results.

  • Direct Dyes (like Rit and Tintex) are inexpensive, available at your local grocery store and really easy to use. They don't have the color fastness or intensity that more professional products do, but the softer, muted hues are just as beautiful. The result of dying polyester or acrylic blends will be lighter and I haven't yet heard of a dye that is recommended for using with 100% polyester or acrylic.
  • Fiber-Reactive Dyes are produced in four versions. Very highly, highly, moderately, and slightly reactive. This refers to the rate at which the color melds with the fabric. These dyes need to cure at specific times and temperatures, and if you don't do it right, the color will eventually rub right off. The easiest one to use is the very highly reactive dye (like Procion MX and Sumifix). It produces brilliant, long lasting colors and sets at room temperature. This stuff is pricier and takes a bit more effort than the supermarket versions, but it's definitely worth it. Order it through Wildfiber in Santa Monica, CA at (800) 382-7067 or let your fingers do the walking.
  • You MUST read the directions of any dye you choose to use. They're all formulated differently and may need special additives like salt or soda ash. Call the customer service department of the company for more helpful tips and instructions.
Hit the books
For even more tips, techniques and styles look for Kate Broughton's terrific book Textile Dyeing. It'll inspire you to new levels

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