Dyeing Silk with MX Dye

I dye my own silk and one of the ways I do that is with MX dye. MX Dye is a fiber reactive dye and works on cellulose or plant fibers like cotton , linen and hemp. It also works on silk. As far as I know silk is the only fiber that you can use both weak acid dyes that are for protein fibers and the MX dyes on.

Scarves blowing in the wind.

I like to use the low water dye method. With this method you use a jar and just a little water. What I do is scrunch or twist or pleat up my silk to be dyed. In this case they are all about 2 feet wide and 8 feet long. Then you pack it into the bottom of a jar that is big enough to hold the silk and the dye (1/2 a cup) and the fixative (1/4-1/2 cup).  It is important that it be a snug fit for this method to work.

I mix up 2 colours of MX dye in 1/4 cup of room temperature water. Pour them over the silk in the jar one at a time making sure they silk is covers with liquid. If it floats as you can see a couple of my jars did you need to carefully weight them down with something non metal. Metal will effect the dye. Once the dye is in the jar you don’t want to disturb them. You don’t want the dyes to mix completely and give you a solid colour.

dye in jars

I am very impatient. So I usually go do something else for 20 min to an hour then I come back and add the fixative. With MX dye you have to raise the PH to get the dye to stick. The cheapest thing for this is PH up from the pool store.  You can use washing soda( not bicarbonate of soda) or order it from your dye supplier but pool chemical is cheap especially at the end of the season. I add a tablespoon for each cup of water including the mix water. Stir to dissolve and then pour it into the jar.  You should leave it for an hour to react but I am impatient as I said and usually dump everything out after about 20 min. Rinse the silk in cold water then hot soapy water then one more cold. Here are some results.

I am sorry the pictures aren’t better but the wind wouldn’t cooperate.  They were dry in about 10 min. If you want really good detailed instructions I would read about it on Paula Burch’s site. http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/lowwaterimmersion.shtml

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12 Responses to Dyeing Silk with MX Dye

  1. ruthlane says:

    Thanks Ann! I will have to post about my MX dye experiments with wool. Beautiful color.

  2. Lyn says:

    What a good way to get such lovely patterns Ann!

    Your first photo of ‘scarves blowing in the wind’ is so pretty – the whole scene looks so inviting.

  3. koffipot says:

    What a beautiful washing line, so full of colour! Absolutely gorgeous Ann! 🙂 I like dyeing in jars in the microwave – a technique I learned from my friend and rug making expert ; Heather Ritchie. Her website is worth a look :- http://www.rugmaker.co.uk./site_map.htm

    She is a wonderful person who lives only about 12 miles from me and is involved with rug making worldwide.

  4. nancy wilder says:

    How timely! I just washed a piece of iridescent silk and thought I should dye it before felting onto it. Thought I should look up the very instructions you posted before I did any dyeing…and eat lunch before doing anything. Lunch and a quick email check, here it is! Looks like I am meant to dye the silk, this afternoon.
    thanks for a lovely post, your pictures are lovely.


  5. jane dolan says:

    Looks like lots of fun, love how the colours have turned out.

  6. It is fun, you never quite now what you will get. the crazier the colour combination the better.

  7. zedster66 says:

    They look gorgeous Ann 🙂
    And my garden looks like yours, I left it ‘natural’ this year!

  8. thanks Zed. Behind the tall grass there are wild blackberries and wild gooseberries.

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