Frequently Asked Questions
We have trademarked these fibers, yarns, and fabrics Dye-Lishus® cotton because they are sold ready to accept dye. There are a multitude of possibilities when you have pre-patterned, undyed cotton at your fingertips. whether you are currently a dyer or would like to learn, this fabric makes it easy to start and easy to convert from synthetic to natural dyes.
The fabric begins with a mix of untreated organic cotton and pre-treated Dye-Lishus® cotton yarns. The organic cotton comes from Texas and is spun in North Carolina and woven into fabric at a mill nearby in South Carolina. The fiber is treated with a chemical that makes the fiber behave as if treated with a mordant prior to spinning and weaving. Just as mercerization changes the character of the cotton without leaving any of the processing chemicals on the cotton, there is no chemical residue left on this fiber. The treatment allows any dye to bind to the fabric, so you do not lose any color in the wash.
Q: Do you sell wholesale?
Q: Is this fabric really pre-treated? What else do I need to do to it before dyeing?
A: The fiber has been treated prior to spinning and weaving. Just launder it in hot soapy water.
Q: Is this cotton mercerized?
A: No. It has been scoured under alkaline conditions, but the alkalinity is not enough for mercerization to occur.
Q: Is this cotton bleached?
A: No. The treated cotton, however, is easily bleached by soaking in hydrogen peroxide.
Q: Should I pre-wash and machine dry this fabric to pre-shrink it like I do with my other fabrics?
A: Yes. Always do this before dyeing any fabric. Washing will also remove everyone’s fingerprints. Dry it only if you are going to dye it later.
Q: Will the mordant wash out if I wash it first?
A: No, the treatment is a permanent change to the structure of the cellulose; there is no mordant to wash out.
Q: How is this fabric different from fabric I've washed with Synthrapol to remove sizings, etc.
A: Washing or laundering removes what is on the outside of the fiber. In addition, the pre-scouring removes impurities that are naturally attached internally to the cellulose.
Q: If the fibers resist dye, do they also resist RESISTS? (Things like wax or gutta resist that keep dye from flowing?)
A: The fibers do not technically resist anything. Untreated cotton just naturally does not accept dyes easily. If the surface is clean, resists will behave as usual.
Q: Is there a right side and a wrong side of this fabric or is it like batik, identical on both sides when dyed?
A: Both sides are the same; it will behave as a yarn dyed fabric.
Q: How is this different from PFD fabric I can buy at the store now?
A: It has been scoured in order to treat it, and it behaves as if it were mordanted, PLUS the fabric is pre-patterned
Q: How would this fabric work with fabric paints as opposed to dyes? Would the patterns still show up?
A: Paint is a surface treatment, designed to coat and cover a surface. If the paint is thin or transparent, you may be able to see the pattern, otherwise paint will obscure it.
Q: I washed it with a red shirt, and it came out pink. Will it remove color from my clothes?
A: It will remove color from the water, not the clothes. The red in the shirt apparently bled, releasing its color into the water.
Q: If the mordant is permanent, can I discharge color?
A: Again, there is no mordant. Discharging breaks the bond between the mordant or the fiber and the dye. Discharging removes the dye, not the mordant, so yes, you can discharge color as you normally do.
Q: Can I mordant Dye-Lishus® cotton?
A:Yes; mordant with any cotton mordant.
Q: How safe is it to handle this pretreated fabric? Are the chemicals proven safe for bare hands?
A: Very safe. The structure of the cellulose is changed, and although the cotton is put through a chemical treatment in order to do that, there is no residue left on the cotton. The fiber is Oekotex certifiable, and I have heard from chemically sensitive people that they have had no problem with it.
Q: How quickly will the dye expire in the bottles? Should we keep them refrigerated after opening?
A: The Aquarelle dyes will last about 3 years after opening, and while they should be stored in a cool dark place, they do not need to be refrigerated.
Q: Is the fabric white or natural colored?
A: It is natural, unbleached.
Q: Is it necessary to treat the dyed fabric in any way to make the dye permanent, after dyeing?
A: The treatment it's already been through makes the dye permanent, so you need no extra processes or chemicals.
Q: What natural elements can I collect to use as dyes on your fabrics?
A: Many flowers and leaves and bark, onion skins; you can pick up any book on natural dyes and find the substances that are known good dyes for coloring cloth. My favorite is Jim Liles' Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing. Berries are pretty, but are technically stains, not dyes, and are not lightfast.
Q: Is the cost of your pre-treated fabric the same price as ordinary cotton?
A: No; any time you add a process, the cost to make it increases.
Q: Are your dyes available outside the US?
A: I am not selling dyes, except in the introductory kits. The fabric and the kits ship anywhere in the world.
Q: Do different mordants produce different colours with the natural dyes?
A: Yes. You can see a comparison and some samples on my Pinterest page.
Q: What mordant did you use?
A: There is actually not a mordant on the cotton. The cotton has been treated to alter the structure of the cellulose and the chemical is washed off. (The same is true of mercerized cotton--the cotton is treated and the chemical used to treat it is washed off.)
Q: How do I replace my charkha bearings?
A: The easiest way is o get some tightly twisted cotton twine from the hardware store. Not butcher twine, it is too soft and not tightly twisted enough. Cut to the length you want an dip the bearings in melted wax (beeswax, paraffin, or any combination). Then replace and oil before use. You could instead braid some cornhusk; oil these before use too.
Q: How do you ply on a charkha?
A: Go here for a long description.