Tuesday, 21 February 2012

I'm Often Asked...

what I like best for colouring spun bonded fabrics.  As with most things, my answer is... it all depends.  But if I was forced to make a choice, I would go for transfer dyes.  They don't affect the hand, the colour is bright and clear, it is simple to apply and all in all is fab for man made fibres.  They can, of course, make marks on cotton, too...they just won't be so bright and clear, because they weren't designed for cotton.  Polycotton, of course, is a different story, depending on the relative amounts of poly to cotton.  The higher the poly content, the brighter the colour... but I digress.

I'm also often asked about what the difference is between dye and paints.  It's simple, really.  Dye comes as a powder, and it makes up with (hot!) water into a substance that is like watercolour paint..all runny.  Paint is the powder, but mixed up with water for you and thickened, so it's more like fabric paint.  Both, however, have to be painted onto paper first, and then ironed onto the cloth.  The technical term for this is sublimation dyeing, by the way, in case you come across it.  Transfer dye can also be bought in crayon form.  Transfer crayons are difficult to find in the UK because the most common  type, made by Crayola, apparently doesn't conform to EU standards (that would be one type of dye in one crayon..sigh.). 

I have all three types of transfer dye in my arsenal.  Why?  Because they are good for different things.  I use transfer dyes for background washes, as they are thin and go a long way.  They also last for ever, if kept in a sealed container (I keep mine in plastic milk jugs).  I use transfer paints for detail work, like printing.  I could thicken up my own dyes, of course, but I know that if I use a commercial paint, I will get consistent results.  If I want a particular colour, though, I will mix my own from the dyes, rather than mix the paints together.  The crayons are great for drawing and writing, though you have to remember with writing to do mirror writing; the words will be ironed onto fabric, and will read in reverse if you don't.  Which is great if it is what you want to achieve...less so if you just forgot.  Guess how I know!

A complex image, like the one above, will use many different layers of both dye and paints.  Interestingly, the marks that look like drawings are not crayon, but paint.  If you want a painterly look to your drawing, don't use crayons, because you can't vary the mark the way that you can with paint.  Try it, and see!  If you're not sure where to start, don't worry...I'll be doing a step by step tutorial to make a postcard from either lutradur or Evolon in Thursday's post.


Angela said...

Oooh I'll look forward to that Marion - I like postcards :o)

Gill said...

Thanks Marion! posts like this are so informative!
More please!