Silks and fiber reactive dyes

I’m rather pleased with the silk dyeing experiments.

Yellow and Pink Silk scarf.

I was concerned about the color-fastness of fiber reactive dyes on silk, so I tried a couple of different dying methods. On the yellow and pink scarf, I used vinegar as a presoak and steamed for about a half an hour after applying the dye. Then I let the scarf cure (zipped up in a baggie to retain the moisture) for about 12 hours before washing it out.

Yellow and pink silk scarf, close-up

The colors are not exactly pastel, but they are light. The┬ásame concentration of the fiber reactive hues showed up more vibrantly on cotton dyed at the same time. But the silk has a lovely sheen so while it’s not as bright as I expected, it’s a nice – if subtle – result.

Black, purple and blue Silk scarf.

For the bluesy scarf, I quickly dipped the silk in a soda ash presoak solution. I used the same solution as I do for cotton dyeing, but for far less time – just dunked it for less than a minute. I dyed the scarf and cured it for about 14 hours before washing (there was no steaming step in this experiment).

It’s hard to tell in the photos, but it seems to me that the in first method – vinegar & steaming – the scarf retained that magical silky luminescence better. But in the second method – with soda ash – the silk absorbed more dye. Of course, the difference in depth & sheen could be in the colors chosen. Admittedly, I was not adhereing to experimental principles by switching up the colorways between the two efforts.

Silk scarves dyed with fiber reactive dyes.

Next time, I am going to try the vinegar & steaming method on the cool colors to see if that silky reflectiveness is a property of the colors or the process.

Until next time, Happy Crafting!

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