Question: Hello! i recently dyed my chair slipcover (100% cotton, white, ikea) with procion mx charcoal gray, and it came out a very viiolet gray :(. Im looking for a neutral gray and wondered if you have any suggestions on how to shift it(which color to order)? I would love to have the outcome be a flax like gray (i was just aiming for neutral, but am now leaning towards flax, warmish neutral gray. does that make sense?
Answer: I assume you were dyeing with Procion MX powder, meant to dye cotton, silk, linen and other cellulose fibers. As for color shift - until now, ALL greys (and blacks too) were mixes. Each dye house may have a "proprietary" mix of grey and these 2 colors are know for "casting" or shifting towards one of their ingredient colors when you go with a lighter tint of either grey or black. There is now a PURE grey dye being sold by both Dharma Trading (CA) and Prochemical and Dye ("Prochem in MA).
At Dharma is is #211 Nuetral Grey and ProChem is Neutral Grey #655. Again, this is a pure dye, so you should not get any color casting. The color chip that is shown for each is at 4% DOS (Depth of Shade), I believe - which is considered a medium dark. I have see the #211 dyed from 12% DOS down to 1/32% DOS.
Also, you mentioned you are dyeing a slipcover. There are several other things that might contribute to the difference in color. You need to weigh your slip cover with a reliable digital scale. Put a container on a scale, tare (or return) it to "0" and place the whole slipcover in the container and weigh it. You need to know the weight of a piece of fabric (WOG - or "weight of goods") because it takes more dye molecules to dye a slipcover vs. a pillow case or twin sheet, for example. Also, the slipcover may have a "coating" or finish to it that you need to come off for the best color. Try washing it in hot water in your machine with Blue Dawn hand soap - about a tsp and 1/2 cup of soda ash (not baking soda). You can find that a pool stores. Soda ash helps the fibers "stand up" and be more receptive to the dye. It is also your "fixative" later on. The PDF link below will explain what you need to do once you weigh the fabric and the other ingredients you need. It sounds harder than it is. I dye quilt backs from sheets on clearance at Target etc all the time.
If you used Rit, I cannot help you. I personally do not use Rit. It is more expensive as much of it is wasted. Dyeing with Procion is more accurate. The article below will also give you some dye experiments to try. Here are my suggested resources:
1. www.classes.candiedfabrics.com Candy Glendenning has some wonderful online classes (I have taken them all). You have access to them for life and there are hours of video and many pages of PDFs to print out for your reference. She even has spreadsheets where you enter the weight of your fabric and your color and it does the math for you. There is a sample class session below, but it does NOT get into weight of goods, so your heavier slipcover would not probably end up dark enough. Sample class: http://classes.candiedfabrics.com/sample-session/
2. If you are not familiar with dyeing by weight, I highly recommend this PDF online:
3. Paula Burch's "All About Hand Dyeing" site has a ton of information as well:
Good luck and hopefully this question helps.