Several weeks ago I ice dyed this shirt for me. Dave loved it and wanted one of his own.
So that was easy. I weighed his shirt (since it’s a bit larger and would need more dye than mine), calculated the amount of dye, and I was off to the dye studio. Several years ago he had purchased several of these t-shirts from LL Bean. In 2015 I dyed one of those shirts in my indigo pot. It turned out beautiful.
So when I went to dye one of the white tshirts, I couldn’t believe the results. Ugh! I ended up over dyeing it since the first time the dye barely attached to the fibers.
My next step was to contact LLBean and the mystery was solved.
They responded back to me almost immediately.
“In looking at your husband’s order history, I’m seeing that in 2014, he had purchased several Carefree Unshrinkable Tee V-neck #290353 (PFH1). These shirts do have a resin-free wrinkle-resistant and stain resistant treatments on them. These solutions allow the wrinkles and water/oil stains to roll off and out of the fabric. Unfortunately, the treatments also prevent the shirt from being dyed like an untreated shirt.”
The dye process with indigo is different and I assume those chemicals were able to break through the stain resistant treatment.
So the lesson I learned is even if it’s 100% cotton, make sure there is no treatment on it. I’ve never had this problem before so it took me by surprise.
Our local library has a silent auction to raise money for the library. They again contacted me to donate a couple items for the auction. So I said goodbye to this rope bowl and one of the purses I had sewn with my ice dyed fabric. They always have such a wonderful selection of art so if you are in the area (Newburgh, Indiana) check out the auction starting later this month.
Lynda, I have been burned by that before too.
Something that has helped, when I cannot cut a 5×5″ swatch to check a fabric (like with a t-shirt) — I stretch the fabric over a small plastic container – like a 50ml plastic cup — and secure it with rubber bands. The surface is flat across the top — don’t really pull super hard. Just flat and firm across. I then release a drop of cold water with an eyedropper on the fabric. If the bead floats on the fabric surface, I generally won’t dye it. Other water drops should just spread and soak right in. Try it with fabrics that you already have that had good and bad dyeing results and see what you think.
Another challenge, with similar results, is if the fabric has not been Mercerized. This process makes the colors “brighter.” If you buy a fabric that is not Mercerized, you will most likely see a pastel color.
Thanks for the post.
Kokomo Jo, Thanks for the tip! I noticed on his shirt that when water is spilled on it, it just beads up. The info about the shirt was on their website, but he bought it and didn’t realize it wouldn’t dye since I only told him 100% cotton. As I said, I never had that problem before. Thanks again.
Cool ice dyes. I have to use ice in place of snow;
most years we get little snow here in eastern NC.
Next up is indigo. Yours looks great.
Hi Suzanne, Yes, we rarely get snow and the very reason I created ice dyeing years ago. Snow was gone. Since snow is made of ice crystals, I thought why not use ice. I googled ice dyeing and found nothing!! After writing a blog post, I contacted Quilting Arts about writing an article about it, it was published and now lots of people are doing it. I taught a webinar through Interweave and now have my own online class on the technique. Indigo is fun too. Have fun and thanks for dropping by.