Different Types of Textile Dyes

In our previous post — in which we shared our thoughts on the Pantone® Fashion Top 10 Color Trend Report for Fall/Winter 2018 — we spoke about how the colours make us feel when we see them being worn.  Have you ever wondered how our clothes got its colours? It was dyed! Let us share with you some information.

Dyeing is a process whereby colours are transferred to textile products like fibres, yarns, and fabrics to add permanent and long-lasting colours. It can be done by hand or machine.
Dyes may be in the form of powders, crystals paste of liquid dispersions which dissolve completely in aqueous solutions like water. When the textile and dye are placed together, the textile becomes completely saturated with the dye and is coloured.

There are two primary categories of dyes; natural dyes and synthetic dyes. Within these 2 categories, there are many different types of dyes.

Natural dyes come from plants, minerals and animals. These are not used much for commercial textiles anymore. Instead they are used for handmade products and traditional crafts. Synthetic dyes are chemicals derived from sources of coal tar or petroleum-based substances and are made in laboratory. Next let’s just talk about 3 different dye types:

#1 Basic Dyes
Dissolves in water and requires a chemical known as a mordant that helps to bond with the dye to make it insoluble. The chemical will make the colour stay on the textile after dyeing. This process tends to be used for fabrics like nylon and polyester.

#2 Direct Dyes
Do not require a mordant and are used to dye natural fibres like wool, cotton and silk.

#3 Vat Dyes
These are made of materials like indigo, a plant that provides a deep blue colour. The material must be treated with a liquid alkaline substance before it can be used as a dye.

In most dyeing processes, water is used with the dye and other additives to affix colour to textiles. When the textile is rinsed, the colour stays. A dye may also be pressed into a fabric through a thick paste, or the textile material may be immersed into a dye vat or tub. Sometimes dyeing textiles requires high temperatures and some synthetics like polyester dye more easily at temperatures above 100 degrees. There are many kinds of dyes and ways to use them as no one dye effectively colours all natural and synthetic textiles. Different dyes and dyeing processes work best on different materials.

If you are interested to find out more on dyeing, watch the video below.

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