A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dye solutions and 'make life easier' calculations

A new blogpost from Nienke:

My calculations of 'how much dye is needed for this piece of fabric' were a bit confusing, at least to some of you. So, let's make my steps clear in a blogpost. (And let's make sure, this is not what Ann Johnston is teaching, it's just the way I prefer to do it, because it makes life easier. This way of thinking and calculating was a result due to the high cotton and dye prices in Europe, and also, not wanting to waste any dyes for environmental reasons).

First of all, I make all colours in the same concentrate, 10%. That is, 10 grams of Procion MX powder to 100 ml. of water (1 deciliter). If they are all the same, my brains don't have to think that much, if I find a bottle in my cupboard. It's always 10%.

To avoid messing around with dye powders, I use those juice bottles with a big opening. Put them on my scale and press Tare, so it resets to zero even with an empty bottle on top of it.

I add 10 grams of powder,

and 100 ml. of water

and a drop of dishwasher for better dissolving of the powder.

Tighten the lid firmly and then I start shaking.
Can't make it easier then this. I even forgot to wear my gloves and actually, if I am careful, I don't need them.

NB for this special project, I mixed on forehand Orange: 7 grams of Yellow MX-3R with 3 grams of Red MX 8B with 100 ml. of water. And for the blue: Turquoixe Blue MX G 9 grams with 2 grams of a black without a name ;-) with 110 ml. of water.

So now that I have my 10% solution premixed ready, I start calculating how much solution I need for a full colour. I know from experience that I need  20 ml. of a 10% solution for a FatQuarter of cotton fabric (each quality). I roughly estimated that this piece was 4,5 FQ's so I needed a total of 90 ml. dyesolution.
I divided the total amount in two colours, 45 ml. of an orange, 45 ml. of a blue.

And the good thing about this way of calculating is that you can remake your unique pieces, look at this picture, one day later, same amount of dye, same tray. I only was too impatient I guess or I didn't press the same time, the piece at the left hand is the newer piece. But you can see that I am pretty close to the original.

Just to give you an idea, these are the tools I use for measuring: these spoons are sold by worldwide known IKEA: http://www.ikea.com/be/nl/catalog/products/10233259/

It says 15 ml = one tablespoon. 5 ml = one teaspoon.
So talking in spoons, you would need one tablespoon and one teaspoon for one Fat Quarter (for a full colour, no gradation)

They are really great to use and very well priced, see if you can get them if you are interested in this way of calculating dyes!!


  1. Thank you, even I can follow this!

  2. Yes, I was going to say that I can do 10%. So there is some hope of my remembering it without constantly looking at a paper with numbers on it.
    Sandy in the UK

  3. It is that easy! But how did you pour the dye in the tray, Nienke?

  4. Thank goodness Ann gives measurements in cups and tablespoons and yards, too!

  5. Beautiful fabrics! I am enjoying your posts. Thank you.

  6. Here is a link to a great paper online (not mine - for students) It looks confusing, but when you are dyeing, if I want the same color on a silk that I had on cotton duck cloth, the weight of the fabric (WOF) figures into the equation. There are also some experiments in the paper you can use:


    Johanna in WI

  7. For those of you in the US, two tablespoons is roughly 1/10 of a cup (it's actually 1.6, but I rounded up to make life even easier) :).


Although this blog is no longer active, we will get your comments so please feel free to share them.