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The Basics of Fabric Dyeing

The Basics of Fabric part 2 is all about the dyeing processes of textiles.

Dyeing & The Types of Dyes

Natural Dyes – Deriving from natural sources like plants and animals, it was the main source of dying in early times and has seen a resurgence in popularity again in direct response to sustainability concerns of synthetic dyes with people foraging and using plant dye extracts to create their own dye baths at home. 

Synthetic Dyes - Manufactured from organic molecules (chemicals) and are used industry wide as they can be manufactured consistently. There are many types of synthetic dyes available as each Fiber reacts differently. Dye molecules may attach to the surface of the fiber, be absorbed by the fiber, or interact with the fiber's molecules. There are around 10 that are most commonly used.

 Photos courtesy of ediblela.com & fashion-history.lovetoknow.com

If you’d like to learn more about the many types of dye you can find a great explanation of them here; https://textilelearner.net/different-types-of-dyes-with-chemical-structure/

Fun fact - Synthetic dying was an accidental discovery by William Henry Perkin, an eighteen-year-old English chemist whilst searching for a cure for Malaria.

Stages of Dyeing

Dying can be done at all stages of the textile manufacturing process and chosen dependent on the fabric or garment being produced.

Stock/Top Dyeing – The dying of loose, unspun fibers. A widely practiced procedure is that of removing the packed fibre from bales and then packing them in large vats that circulate dye liquor through the mass of fibre at elevated temperatures.
- Applicable to wool and all types of manmade fibres

Dope Dyeing/Solution Pigmenting- Dye is added to the spinning solution before extracting the filament yarns.  Dope dyeing is said to be more environmentally friendly as no water is used during the process, chemicals and carbon is reduced and lower energy use.
- Can be used for dyeing polyester, nylon, acrylic and more recently viscose.

Yarn Dyeing– Done after the fibers are spun into yarn but before the weaving or knitting process. Yarn dying can be done in 3 different ways depending on how much needs dyed at one time.  The 3 options are Skein Dyeing, Packaging Dyeing and Warp Dyeing.
- Yarn dying is commonly used for making check and stripe designs.
 
Piece Dyeing – Carried out after the weaving or knitting process, it is the most popular and flexible dyeing method for solid colours. The 3 options are Jet, Jig or Pad dyeing.
-Woven cotton is often piece dyed and used for things like jackets or cargos.

Garment Dyeing – This is the process where finished garments are dyed, and commonly used for things like sweaters and t-shirts.

1. Yarn Dyeing               2. Garment Dyeing            3.Piece Dyeing

Photos courtesy of greenhousefabrics.com, textilevaluechain.in and nytimes.com

Now you have a general idea of the different ways fabric and garments are dyed and how these processes are carried out. If your looking for more sustainable and safer dyed options here are the Certified Dye Standards to look out for. 

 
 GLOBAL ORGANIC TEXTILE STANDARD

 

 
  STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®

 

Did you know four of our lounge bottoms colourway’s are dyed in the UK in an Oeko-Tex and Reach compliant dye house?

You can find them here; 
And keep an eye out for part 3 of our basics of fabric series coming in a few weeks, all about the finishing processes including printing.
If you haven't read part 1 of our series you can find the blog post here; The Basics of Fabric Part 1 with all the details about how fabric is made. 

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