Hand dyed fabric is a fine commodity for any application. Hand dyed fabrics are well sought for because of their amazing dyeing process. They’re also excellent additions for accent pieces that stand out. While most of the dyeing done to fabrics use machinery, hand dyeing still occurs in various parts of the world.
How exactly is hand dyed fabric done? What are the benefits of using a hand dyed fabric over a commercially manufactured one? Learn more about hand dyed fabric’s properties and why they’re perfect for a number of fabrics.
Hand Dyed Fabric: The History
Hand dyed fabric dates back to ancient times. Researchers have found traces of hand dyed fabric dating back as far as the Neolithic period (10,000 – 4,500 BC)! The first traces of hand dyed fabrics were in western Asia. Back then, the processing of dyes happened naturally. Anything from iron oxide to insects aided in the manufacture of dyed fabric.
Other types of dyes like indigo made their way to the hand dyeing process through trading. Once worldwide trade became established, different goods were put to the test to create hand dyed fabric. Also, through the use of plant matter, new dyes emerged to create more variance with hand dyed fabrics until the creation of synthetic dyes.
The first synthetic dyes were made from coal tar. The same thing used to create sealants for roads were responsible for the first man-made dyes for hand dyed fabric! Afterwards, other synthetic materials paved the way to ensure readily available shades were available for hand dyed fabrics.
Hand Dyed Fabric: Dyeing Process
There are various methods for hand dyeing fabric. The dyeing process also depends on the fabric that’s used. The most common dyeing process (and also used with dyeing various cotton fabrics specifically) is called direct dyeing.
Direct dyeing implies exactly what it means: the dye comes into direct contact with the dye mixture. The dyes are usually mixed with water or a water and chemical solution, and the fabric submerges within said solution. The fabric will remain within the solution for a period of time to ensure the dye absorbs within the fabric.
Once the dye is set within the fabric, it’s finalized with a sealant to hold onto the color over time. This process varies on the fabric used or whether or not the supplier wants to add a sealant to their product.
Types of Dyes for Hand Dyed Fabric
As stated, the first used materials for hand dyed fabric were all natural. To this day, there are certain natural products used to hand dye fabric, including:
- Flowers like Hyacinths
- Plant Matter like Basil
- Fruits like Oregon Grapes
- Organic Matter like Clay
Natural materials like the ones above are great for hand dyeing fabrics. They’re easy enough to extract and fun to use. Other products to hand dye fabric are synthetic, or man-made. These dyes, used personally and commercially, are found in your local craft stores:
- Rit Synthetic Dye
- Jacquard Poly Synthetic Dye
- Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye
These synthetic dyes are made through various chemical processes. They’re not only used to hand dye natural fabrics like cotton, but polyester and nylon too.
Hand Dyed Fabric Styles
As previously mentioned, there are an abundant amount of fabrics that are used for hand dyeing. Some amazing fabrics that will work well for hand dyeing are:
- Muslin: Muslin fabric is a cost effective lightweight cotton based textile that is ideal for hand dyeing. This fabric works great with the direct dyeing process. Muslin fabric’s use applies to a number of applications including backdrops, drapery, blankets, and more.
- Cotton Canvas: Cotton canvas is awesome to use for a hand dyeing fabric project! Whether you’re sewing a canvas tote and want to add some color to your creation or making a canvas floor cloth, cotton canvas absorbs both natural and synthetic dyes well.
- Linen: Linen, like cotton is a natural fabric that absorbs natural and synthetic dyes well. Linen’s use extends over a multitude of products from clothing to bedding. Using linen as a hand dyed fabric will allow you to maximize your project’s beauty.
- Polyester: Polyester, while synthetic, is able to be dyed. Typically, synthetic fabrics are only dyeable with other synthetic materials. Most of the dyes listed above are able to dye polyester fabric. Polyester fabric’s use encompasses anything and everything from outwear to bags.
Hand dyed fabrics are in abundant supply. If you want to learn more about the hand dyeing process, or find the right fabric for hand dyeing, feel free to contact us.