Fabric dye is a product used in the dyeing process of fabric, for example, clothing, carpet, upholstery, bedding etc. Natural fabric dye is derived from animal, plants and invertebrate or mineral origin. The main sources of natural fabric dye are seeds, herbs, flowers, leaves, stems, bark, rocks, wood and various other natural biological resources like fungi and bacteria. The term ‘fabric’ itself signifies fabric or material which is made up of these natural resources. There are different types of fabric dye available in the market.
The most commonly used fabric dye is the one that is obtained through mordants. Mordants are vegetable-based solvents that are added to certain dyes and this is how they become apparent. The mordants are added as a phase two in the manufacturing process. There are two main types of mordants – alcohol-based and acrylic-based. Some mordants, which are considered to be low-quality, may contain traces of metals, petroleum and acids.
Other than fabric dye, there are also some dyes that can be used for the purpose of producing textiles, and they are known as fiber-reactive dyes. They are usually manufactured as pigments that are extracted from plant materials like cotton, hemp, jute, sisal, bamboo, linseed oil, seaweed, meadow grass, radish and wool. Other vegetable-based dyes that are used as fabric dye include the soya lecithin, silk amino acids, wool amino acids and alfalfa protein. These dyes come in the form of powder or liquid and they are sometimes even applied as a liquid emulsion. They have specific applications like dyeing fabrics made from natural fibers like wool; textiles that have a high water-retention property; textiles with a sheen on the surface; and so on. Some of the fabric dye used in the production of garments include nylon, rayon and wool.
The process of fabric dyeing is a complex one, which involves four steps – primary dye (that is, the primary dye that is mixed with the plant material to generate the color), secondary dye (that is, it is mixed with the primary dye to give the color), coloring agent and the fiber. In order to get the right color and shade, a lot of care goes into selecting the coloring agent and choosing the appropriate type of fiber. In case of cellulose fibers, the dye is primarily responsible for giving the fabric its characteristic hue and thus, choosing the dye becomes all the more important. The dyes that work the best for fabric dyeing are the ones that are light in weight and low on chemical content.
Apart from fabric dye, synthetic dyes can also be used for dyeing fabrics. This means that besides natural fabric dyes, you can also go in for synthetic dyes – like polyester. However, when dyeing with synthetic dyes, care should be taken to ensure that the quality of the dye is good. The dye should not end up giving you bad-quality or faded results; instead, it should give you rich, vibrant colors.
Apart from fabric dye, there is another option available in the market for coloring your clothes – the fiber-reactive dye. This is a very popular option that is found to be very convenient as it works well with both natural and synthetic dyes. This is the reason why this has become the most commonly used type of fabric dye today. When using this option, there is no need for a fabric dye preparation. Instead, the fiber-reactive dye will react with the natural fibers present in the fabric itself. Hence, while the fabric dye will make the fabric lighter and give it a natural color, the fiber-reactive dye will make the fabric darken and give it the color of the dyed color.
There are different ways by which fabric dyeing can be handled. For example, some fabric dye providers prefer the standing method in which the fabric is first put in the dyeing process. However, some prefer the tub method. In the first method, the fabric is placed in the dyeing process in the container that contains the fabric dye. Then, the fabric is put inside the container, which is placed on a stand. The fabric is not allowed to move even slightly so that the dye would coat all the areas in the container.
Once this is done, the container lid is closed tightly and the dye is gently sprayed on the fabric. It is important to note that you should always opt for the freshest and the best fabric dye that you can find. The freshest fabric dye types work best with lighter colors and the best fabric dye types work best with darker colors. The texture of the fabric should also be considered, since you would want the fabric dye to be applied carefully. If there are any blemishes on the fabric, it is better to wait until the area is totally dry before applying the fabric dye.