HNW - Setting Silk Dyes

Sarah Randles s-randles at
Thu Jul 8 22:03:39 PDT 1999

Melinda wrote:

>I am about to start an embroidered Elizabethan coif in silk, (finishing off
>the design details now), and while I do not expect to get it wet, or to wash
>it, I consider it possible that rain might fall upon it.   Thus, I would like
>the effect better if it did not cause the dye to run.  Silk thread is
>notorious for having the dye run.

I don't know how well the vinegar thing works, although I've read it
before.  My advice is to test your silk before you use it.  Not all silks
have colour fastness problems, even black, which can be a hard dye to fix.
I have been using Gutterman silks for some time, although I haven't been
able to get them lately (they did about 5 colours, including black and
white, on little cardboard reels some time ago and I haven't used them up
yet).  They pass my colourfast test admirably.  My colourfast test is as
follows.  Embroider a bit on some fabric that you intend to work on (This
is the sole exception to my 'Real women don't practice' theory!).  Put it
in the washing-machine on a normal cycle, using normal soap-powder.  I
don't wash anything on hot so I don't use hot, but if there's a chance that
you'll wash in hot water, even accidentally later, use hot.  Take it out
and dry it in the dryer on hot.  If it survives this, it will survive
anything.  The zwicky silks do fine too, as do the DMC cottons.  You can
shorten the process by trying a few different threads on one piece of
cloth, but you'll need to figure out some way of working out which is
which, other than writing on it, since the writing almost certainly won't
survive this process.

Note: this is NOT the way I recommend laundering your embroidery after its


Sarah Randles                                    email: s-randles at
School of English                              phone: 02 6268 8842
University College ADFA                 fax:   02 6268 8899
Canberra ACT 2601

Note: on Mondays and Tuesdays I work at the Australian National Dictionary
Centre - phone: (02) 6249 0476.

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