Dying ribbon is one of those great creations because you never know how it’s going to turn out until you’re done. It isn’t hard to do and supplies don’t have to take up much space. Here’s my quick start guide to set up and dye your ribbon.
I use Procion MX dyes and have liked them very much. I know some people use Rit or other dyes and have had great success there too. With Rit I believe you simply dye, dry and heat set the ribbon. Procion recommends using Soda Ash (sodium carbonate) to pre-soak your ribbon in for about 20 minutes which helps set the dye.
I pre-mix my water and dye in little bottles that I got at a local craft shop. (I’m using a plastic tray for them that some veggies came in, great way to recycle your veg trays.) They store very nicely this way and have kept for 2 years without color change or evaporation.
First I loop my ribbon into lengths of about 1 yard each. This length works for me because I use it in my jewelry. Once it is looped and tied (I learned the hard way that you don’t want to wash a bunch of untied ribbon and then try to sort it out when it’s wet) I wash my ribbon to make sure it has no residues on it that might interfere with the dye absorbing into the ribbon. You can use detergent or Synthrapol (detergent cleaner for fabric that is used as a pre and post-wash to remove attached residues and surface dye particles).
Once my ribbon is washed I lay the ribbon out to dry that I’m not going to use and then store it, looped in the bin for my next dye adventure.
Now that my ribbon is clean, I simply dissolve the Soda Ash in a bowl of warm water in the sink and put the washed ribbon in. Let it soak a few minutes (I’m impatient) and then rinse in cool water. Careful not to wring out your silk as it is particularly fragile when it is wet. Pat excess moisture off so that your ribbon is moist, not sopping.
Now for the fun part. Scrunch your semi-wet (soda ash treated) fabric up in plastic cups or bags or lay it flat and get ready to squirt, dip or paint your dye on.
I scrunch my ribbon into little salsa containers that I’ve recycled and baby food containers from when my kids were little. I like the ribbon scrunched so that the dye colors mix and blend in interesting ways. This creates cool variegated patterns.
After squirting the dye on I cover them with their little lids and let them incubate overnight. Tic-toc, tic-toc.
The next day I wash with detergent and warm water and lay them out to dry. I dry them with a blow dryer on hot partially because I’m impatient and partially because I want to heat set a bit for good measure.
The color will lighten when dry.
For neat storage and easy hunting when I’m in the middle of a necklace I pre-sort all of my ribbon into bags of similar shades and keep them in this plastic tote.
Here’s a necklace where I used my dyed silk ribbon and sari ribbon together.
There is no perfect way to dye so remember to have fun with it. If you want to post a link to your ribbon projects go ahead in the comments.