The Rit Studio: Low-Water Immersion

How to Dye Using the Low-Water Immersion Technique

Low-water immersion dyeing is a method of dyeing that uses a small amount of water compared to standard dyeing methods. This method is often used by art quilters because 18” x 22” pieces of fabric or cotton batting (referred to as Fat Quarters) can be dyed in small plastic disposable containers. It’s an easy method for mixing and blending multiple colors of dye at the same time. The result is fabrics with light and dark areas that have a marbled appearance and more visual depth.

Art quilters often dye, not only cotton fabric, but cotton batting and sheer nylon interfacing. The cotton batting and interfacing are used on the outside of quilts to create quilted wall art, pillows and other projects. Cotton batting has a soft, felt-like surface, takes the dyes beautifully and can be stitched and embellished in many ways. Dyed sheer nylon interfacing has a translucent quality, which allows the under colors to show through, resulting in special color effects.

 

Prep, dye and clean up time: About 30 minutes

You’ll Need

  • 18” x 22” Fat quarter cuts of Warm & White Batting by The Warm Company, white 100% cotton fabric or sheer nylon interfacing
  • Rit Dye, liquid or powder
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Plastic disposable spoon
  • Plastic disposable containers with lids (3-cup for batting, 1-cup for interfacing)
  • Small bowl
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic table cover
  • Paper towels
  • Microwave

Step by Step

Marble Batting

  1. Cover work surface with a plastic table cover.

  2. Cut 18” x 22” piece of batting (referred to as a fat quarter by quilters). Immerse in bowl of warm water. This will help open up the fibers and make them ready to absorb the dyes; set aside.

  3. Dye Preparation: In low water immersion, two colors are combined to created the marbled effect. It’s important to keep the rules of color mixing in mind when picking your colors. Wear rubber gloves and shake dye bottles before pouring dye. Measure 2 teaspoons powder dye or 1 teaspoon liquid dye into a 3-cup container. Add 1 cup hot tap water (about 140 F); stir and set aside. Repeat process for your second color. Note: If your tap water is not hot, heat water in a tea kettle or in the microwave.

  4. Test the color by dipping a strip of batting into the dye solution. For lighter shades, add more water or use less dye.

  5. Squeeze excess water from batting and shake out so the scrim (polyester backing that holds fibers together) is scrunched up on the inside.

  6. Push batting into plastic container with your first dye solution. Use a spoon to move batting around and push it down to be sure it absorbs the dye.

  7. Pour your second dye solution over the batting. (Use just as much dye solution as you desire.) Push out air bubbles with a spoon. Continue to push and move batting. The more movement of batting, the more the colors will blend together.

  8. Line microwave with paper towels. Place lid on top of container that holds the batting and dyes. (Do not seal container.) Place in microwave and set on high for one minute. This creates a heat chamber that helps the dye penetrate the fibers.

  9. Carefully remove container from microwave. Rinse batting in cool water until water runs clear. Wash batting in warm water with mild detergent; rinse and hang to dry.

Sheer Nylon Interfacing

  1. Cover work surface with a plastic table cover.

  2. Cut 18” x 22” piece of sheer nylon interfacing.

  3. Dip interfacing in warm water.

  4. Measure ½ teaspoon liquid dye and mix with ½ cup very hot tap water in 1-cup plastic container.

  5. Repeat this process for your second color. Note: If tap water is not 140F, heat water in a teapot or in the microwave.

  6. Squeeze excess water out of interfacing, shake and scrunch up so fusible side is folded inside.

  7. Push wet interfacing into first dye solution.

  8. Pour second dye solution over the first color. Push out air bubbles with spoon. Continue to push and move fabric. The more movement, the more the colors will blend together.

  9. Let interfacing set in dye solution for one to two minutes. Do not use the microwave. Fusible backing may melt, and it’s not necessary as long as very hot water is used with the dyes.

  10. Remove interfacing and rinse in cool water until water runs clear. Then launder in warm water with mild detergent. Hang to dry.

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