Dyeing with Fibre Reactive Dyes

Fabric in dyebath

This article will outline for you what equipment is needed and what the process is for dyeing with fibre reactive dyes.


  • Scales
  • Small jewellery scales
  • Plastic bucket/box for dye bath
  • Plastic jug
  • Assorted metal and plastic spoons
  • Small jars for mixing dyestuff
  • Face mask for wearing for handling dye until it is dissolved.
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cotton or silk fabric prepared for dyeing.

All equipment to be kept for dyeing only

Dye materials:

  • Procion MX dyes (Note dust particles from fibre reactive dyes are harmful) Keep top well screwed on and avoid damp at all costs getting into dye pots. Once dye particles are damp they loose their potency.
  • Common Salt (ensures even take up of dye)
  • Soda Ash (sodium carbonate) (ensures fixing of dye to fabric)

Rules of Dyeing:

The most important rule is that amount of dye stuff used depends on the weight of the fabric BUT the amount of salt and soda ash depends on volume of water you are using.

Water must be enough to allow the fabric to move freely.

As a guide:

  • 100 to 150 gr of fabric use 6 litres of water
  • 200 to 300 gr of fabric use 10 litres of water

Usually use 2 to 4grams of dye to every 100gr of dry fabric (depending on depth of colour required)

  • 50 grams of salt to every litre of water
  • 15 grams of soda ash to every litre of water
4 orange examples of maki age
An example of shibori patterned fabric dyed in a fibre reactive dye bath

The Process:

  1. Weigh dry fabric which has been scoured or prepared for dyeing
  2. Then put fabric into soak for 12 to 24 hours
  3. Calculate amount of dye needed
  4. Calculate amount of water needed, then calculate amount of salt and soda ash.
  5. Write down clearly what is required and keep to hand.
  6. Cover work area with newspapers, the smallest grain of dye stains!

IMPORTANT: Wear your face mask at this point!

  • Weigh out dye stuff. I use jewellery scales for this as it is a very small amount. I use an old screw or similar to “start the scales off” as a very small amount of dye sometimes takes time to register. I switch on the scales add the screw and then add dyestuff. This involves adding the weight of the screw to the weight of dye stuff you have calculated. Warning note this very clearly and keep to hand. So easy to make a mistake at point of weighing. I have done it!!
  • Dissolve dye in a small amount of water and mix well.
  • Weigh out salt and dissolve in measured amount of boiling hot water and put in dye bath. Top up with measured amount of water required. Try and achieve a temperature of approx 40 degrees.
  • Add dye solution to dye bath and stir well to disperse.
  • Add well wetted fabric and gently agitate.
  • Continue this agitation off and on for 30 mins.
  • Weigh and then dissolve required amount of soda ash in hot water in a seperate jug. Again wear your face mask as soda ash has very fine particles.
  • Lift the fabric from the dyebath gently. Do not squeeze.
  • Add soda ash to the dyebath, stir thoroughly and replace fabric. Fabric colour will change slightly at this point.
  • Gently agitate fabric in bath every 5 to 10 mins for 45 mins to 1 hour.
  • Rinse fabric thoroughly in hot water finishing off in cold.

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2 thoughts on “Dyeing with Fibre Reactive Dyes”

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