Friday, February 26, 2010

Dyeing silk with Rit

I am working on a project right now, sorry I can't tell you about it, you'll have to wait until summer before I can talk, but anyways, I have been dying silk dupioni and rayon-silk velvet with Rit dye. Holy cow the color is amazing. The silk dupioni dyes beautifully. The velvet is insanely rich with gorgeous deep color and it picks up lots of lovely texture. I was told it is because of the rayon, it takes the dye really well. So, I just thought those of you who are not comfortable with fiber reactive dyes would want to know, so you can start dyeing those Dharma scarf blanks to coordinate with every thing in your wardrobe.


  1. VERY NICE COLOR PALLET!!! It looks like fun! I enjoy dying my own fabrics. right now Im wearing a scarf i dyed. Dharma has some nice silk scarves! I cant wait until summer to see what you are up to... thanks for the tease. Natalie Carlton

  2. Gorgeous, deep, rich colors. Boy Rit does a lot better job now than when my Gram used to use it!Hmm, summer is how many months away? I guess I'll have to be patient. Have a good weekend.

  3. These are amazing! Can't wait to see how you use these. My creative ADD is in hyper-drive thinking about using my RIT dye on silk scarves.

  4. oh yummmmm....i will have a plum with a dash of blueberry!

    yes it is nice to know that rit works too.

  5. I had no idea you could get such beautiful results from Rit! I can't wait to see what you are up to! Meanwhile, I think I'm going to try some Rit!

  6. Anonymous10:47 AM

    Love the shibori bits and anxiously await the final results. Thanks for the info on Rit dye. Diane

  7. Judy - just beautiful! Can't wait to see the finished project.

    Do you need to pretreat with Soda Ash?

  8. thanks to you Judy, I know how easy it is to dye with Rit. I did a bunch of dyed batting based your article in Quilting Arts..these are gorgeous. love the shibori results.

  9. Hi Jojo no reason to pretreat with soda ash, but you need to make sure the fabric is either a prepared for dyeing fabric with no sizers or finishes, like something sold that way or just wash the fabric first with regular laundry detergent.

    When dyeing silk, it is recommended to add vinegar to the dye bath a few minutes after it has been in the dye. For small stuff I just added a splash of vinegar, for bigger pieces of fabric when using a cup or two of dye solution I added half a cup of vinegar and let the whole thing set for about half an hour before washing out.

    Adding vinegar is not necessary for dyeing rayon.

  10. Hadn't heard of these, but WOW! I love them all but I think my favorites are the blue/turquoise/aqua-green on the right, and the violet to white just left of the middle (reminds me of the color of the landscape in lightening).

    ELECTRIC! What a great advertisement for these dyes.

  11. Love those colors and patterns! I look forward to when we can hear more about what you are doing with them. :-)

  12. Looking forward to seeing your new project!

  13. Gorgeous. You already had me on a Rit dying frenzy with cotton... it is such a great way to get through a bleaker-than-normal winter.

  14. Next time I buy cloth, dupioni is on my list.

  15. Those colors and patterns are downright gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the color candy.

  16. Anonymous7:15 PM

    WOW! Now I think I need a bit of Rit! Never would have wanted any til I saw how you're using it.

  17. Katie7:09 PM

    These are great! Sadly there is a dearth of information on dying silk velvet with RIT (a process I need to do shortly). Did you add salt to the dye bath, as the RIT box suggests? If so how much? I need to uniformly dye approx. 4 yards of silk much vinegar should I add to the dye bath?

    Additionally, how much color-loss did you have when rinsing your dyed velvet? I'm trying to gauge how long I'll need to leave my fabric in the dye bath to get the color I want (I'm using slate blue RIT).

    Many thanks in advance for your help!

  18. Hi Katie,

    The silk/rayon velvet really took the dye with more intensity than the cotton or silk dupioni, so make sure to do a test swatch. I think the recommendation is 1/2 vinegar for 1 yard of fabric. But to be honest I just splashed some in from the jug without measuring and it came out great.

    I didn't add salt, I don't think it is necessary for the silk.

    I would use the liquid dye if you can get it, if you don't have it local, you can order it from the rit website. The liquid dye gives more consistent color i think, the powder has to be dissolved thoroughly to avoid any stray dye particles from the different colors making an occasional speck of weird color. Also there is less rinsing after using the liquid.

    Compared to cotton the dye loss was very little, what you see is pretty much what you get.

    If your water is close to boiling when you mix your dye, the dye will be absorbed and fixed really quickly. If your water is not as hot you may need to let the fabric sit in it longer.

    Hope that helps.

  19. Katie9:44 PM

    Thanks, that did indeed help a LOT! I've been parsing tidbits from all over the net....whenever I ask about using RIT on silk people immediately say "use something else!" which is ridiculously unhelpful, haha.

    Unfortunately slate blue RIT is discontinued as far as I know, and the only kind I was able to get was the powder....but I'll make sure to dissolve it thoroughly before adding my silk and stir the bath to get the most even color possible.

    Thanks again! I love your work!

  20. thanks Katie!

    You might want to try doing it in your washer, to get the most even color. I have actually never dyed in my washer, because I have always dyed smaller pieces of fabric and was not as concerned with getting perfectly even color.

    The agitation is really important with rit, I noticed that the dye molecules adhere right away to the surface they touch first. So if you have a fold in the fabric that the dye penetrates to a little later than the fabric that hit the dye first, there might be a difference in shade because the dye has already become diluted in the rest of the water.

    Good luck!


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