Since this is a commission I plan to dye one piece and then have the client approve the results. Then dye the other 3 pieces to match. Keeping the results consistent through 2 dye batches will be easiest if I use very specific formulas.
Procion MX dyes work like epoxy glue. There are two separate parts that need to be mixed together for the chemical reaction to occur. Apart they have a shelf life of a few days or even weeks depending on other factors like the surrounding temperature and how precise you need the colors to be. Once they are mixed together the chemical reaction occurs and if they aren't applied to fabric they will chemically bond to the water in a process called hydrolyzation, losing strength in an hour or so.
Using unactivated fabric and activating the solution only as I need it is the easiest way to work on this project. For this I will mix a dye "paste" and an activator solution mixing them together only when I am ready to dye the fabric. In addition I will be using a third mix of thickening solution (sodium alginate) to change the consistancy of the dye and give me more control during the application.
Mixing the 3 Parts
Part 1 Dye Paste
I keep recipes of dye mixes/colors I like so I can reproduce them.
The formula I use is: consist of X grams ____ dye powder > X cups H2O. (who knew that the Algebra I despised would actually come in handy?) nice and simple. To increase the quantity of a recipe just multiply both sides of the equasion by the same number
In this case the dark Navy will be 20 grams Navy powder > 1 cup H2o
and the light navy will be 2.2 grams Navy powder > 1 cup H2O
both will start from the same dye paste
To make a paste I mix the full grams for a recipe into 1/2 the needed H2O
So here I will be putting 60 grams of Navy into 1.5 cup H2O
(use warm water this dissolves the dye better)
Part 2 Activator
add 1 tsp of activator per 1 cup H2O and mix well to dissolve it.
I made 6 cups
Part 3 Thickener
Thickener is sodium alginate or ground seaweed. It is a powder that is added to water and basically creates goo. Depending on how much powder is added to the water you can vary the consistency from cream-like to honey-like to toothpaste-like
I dissolve the thickener in warm water a day or so ahead of time mixing it 3 or 4 times as it sits.
It has a tendency to be lumpy when first mixed but smooths out with time. It lasts indefinitely in solution when stored in a closed container in a cool place. I mix by eye making it very thick and adding water to get the consistency to where I want it.
for this project I made some thing about the consistency of cold honey.
These 3 parts are kept separate until it is time to dye. when everything is ready to go then I turn into the mad scientist!
The final step is to mix the parts together to make 2 colors of dye one Dark with thickener, and one light without it.
Using a measuring cup (1 Cup)
fill to 1/3 cup mark with thickener
fill to 1/2 cup mark with activator
fill to 1 cup mark with dye paste
stir til mixed
1/2 cup dye paste
3 1/2 cups activator
stir til mixed
The actual dyeing of the stripe is pretty simple
I dipped both ends of the rolled fabric into the light Navy to a depth of about 1/2 inch
then dipped both ends into the dark Navy to a depth of about 1/4 inch
Because the light is unthickened it will travel further into the fabric, the dark will remain where it is applied more or less...
and here is the result