Some Fiber Reactive Dyeing

The other Day I went over to my friend Elizabeth’s house To play with MX or fiber reactive dyes. these are the dye you use for cellulose fibers and silk. I had planed on doing some silk as I am low on some colours but I could not find my silk top. I know I have some but I do not know where it is hiding. Instead I took some flax/linen, hemp and tencel . I had never dyed any of them before.

Here is the dye set up, we are doing low water immersion dyeing.

dyeing 2 dyeing 1

While I was doing fibers

dyeing 4

Elizabeth was doing small skeins. Experimenting for dyeing warps for her loom and to sell.



Elizabeth is a “good” dyer. she measures and rights down how much of each colour she mixed and how much she used for each one. She will be able to reproduce what ever she or her customers would like.  Here are Elizabeth’s result. Various fibers: 2/8 and 2/16 cotton, 2/8 bamboo, cottolin and hemp/cotton.

Es dyeing

I on the other hand am a “bad” dyer. I just put a bit of dye in the water and wing it. That’s ok because I don’t need to reproduce the exact colour and shade again.

This is my result.

dyeing 5

Here they are with the undyed fibers, on the left hemp, on the right tencel and on the bottom is flax/linen.

dyeing 6

I did some close ups for you too. The hemp compacted a bit when I squeezed the excess water out. It fluffed up and softened when I shook it and gave it a wack on the table.

dyeing 8

The tencel got all crimpy. I was quite surprised.

dyeing 7

the flax/linen stayed compacted despite several good wacks on the table. I am not surprised really when yo spin linen you spin it wet. I think it helps it “glue” the fibers smoothly together.

dyeing 9

I think I will blend the fibers with some wool to try spinning and to felt with. It was a fun day with Elizabeth, It is always good when you are sharing with other fiber lovers.

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14 Responses to Some Fiber Reactive Dyeing

  1. I love the colours and sheen on your tencel. I must try this!

  2. Lyn says:

    You both made some beautiful colours! I’ve regretted winging it in the past when a particularly great colour was achieved, but then couldn’t be reproduced.

  3. ruthlane says:

    Great results Ann. I am like you and just wing it with dyeing. I love the greens you achieved on the tencel. I have dyed all of these before and the flax always looks like you killed it after dyeing.

  4. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Beautiful results for both of you! I try to keep records, but inevitably forget to write something down. I’ve never dyed flax/linen or hemp. Interesting that you whack them on the table. I got a good laugh at that. 🙂

    • Thanks Marilyn. I did try just giving it a shake to loosen it up but the flax was having non of it. it still looks like was glued.

    • Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

      So, how will you get it separated?

    • I will pull it apart and card it into a rollag I think. I think its the only thing that will work. I think they usually dye it after spinning. Maybe thats why most linens are white.

  5. sunshineandgardens says:

    Thanks for posting the experiment. There’s so many things I haven’t tried yet, and this whets my appetite for more dye and fibre experiences.

  6. zedster66 says:

    Lots of great results you both got 🙂 I’m a bit inbetween, I measure out the dye powder to salt/soda/water for the primaries and black, then make as many inbetween shades as possible, and also combine colours on piles of fibre. The flax I dyed last year is still (almost) as stiif as a board! It does loosen up if you drag it through a handcarder though.

    • I just found another flax ball. it was still in the bin from doing the dying. Its purple and white. I managed to get it open despite it drying an a squished ball.

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