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Thread: How Long Should I Soak Batik to Bleed Color Before Giving UP???

  1. #1
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    How Long Should I Soak Batik to Bleed Color Before Giving UP???

    I am pre-washing my batiks (I'm making a quilt using 56 different batik fat quarters in all ranges of the rainbow) and have come upon some really stubborn ones. I have been dunking the individual fat quarters into a sink of water and swishing around for a minute or so.

    Some don't bleed at all and I remove and hang to dry. Some bleed a bit and I soak once or twice with fresh water for 10 to 20 minutes and then they are okay. Some, however, I have left soaking overnight and the water is still quite colorful (so far, several of my teals and a few purples have done this). Should I keep soaking the problem fabrics or are they a lost cause? This is my first time using batiks and can't believe how much some of them bleed--the yellow really surprised me.

  2. #2
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    The fabrics that keep bleeding have dyes that were not completely set at the factory. What you want to use on those fabrics is Retayne. You can do it with hot water in the sink. If a fabric bleeds after a max of two Retayne treatments, you should not use it in a quilt.

    The fabrics that bleed a little and then stop are simply over-saturated with dye. Fiber can pick up only so much dye; any excess will bleed into the water. When that excess is gone, the bleeding stops. When the bleeding doesn't stop, that's when you know that the dyes were never properly set in the first place.

  3. #3
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    But if none of the other fabrics you're using in the quilt pick up the excess dye, how is it a problem?

  4. #4
    Super Member PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scissor Queen View Post
    But if none of the other fabrics you're using in the quilt pick up the excess dye, how is it a problem?
    I understand the concept that it's not the bleeding fabric that's the problem, it's the accepting fabric, Scissor Queen, but how do you know which ones will accept more dye and which ones won't???

    RE: bleeding fabrics, I second the Retayne suggestion. Treat the fabric per the label instructions, then check to make sure that the fix worked.
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  5. #5
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Soaking really does nothing to stop bleeding. It needs agitation to release the loose dyes. If you don't want to spring for Retayne, get some Color Catchers at the grocery store and hand wash, don't soak, the FQs that are bleeding.

    Swish them around in the water with the CC until the water turns colored. Change the water and do it again. When the CC is dark, change to a new one. When both the water and the CC are clean, you're done. If that never happens with a FQ, I wouldn't use it.

    You can save a lot of time by doing color batches. No real need to do 56 single FQs cuz if one doesn't stop bleeding, it's easy enough to isolate.

    Retayne is a huge amount of work for 56 fat quarters because of the temperature required (140F), the constant agitation necessary, and the multiple colors and size of the fabrics. Odds are great that the problems is excess dye, not unset dye.
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  6. #6
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    I understand the concept that it's not the bleeding fabric that's the problem, it's the accepting fabric, Scissor Queen, but how do you know which ones will accept more dye and which ones won't???

    RE: bleeding fabrics, I second the Retayne suggestion. Treat the fabric per the label instructions, then check to make sure that the fix worked.
    If I was using a light fabric that might pick up the dye I'd cut a square and put it in with the darks. If it's stained after it's well rinsed it might be a problem. Notice I said might. Generally as long as you haven't done anything to set that dye it'll wash out eventually. In 40 years of doing laundry that is mostly cotton I've only ever had 1 thing pick up dye and it not come out and that was rayon embroidery on some pillowcases.

  7. #7
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    It's not just the fabrics in the quilt that can be ruined by a running dye. I've had excess dye come off on my hands, my clothing... anything that comes into contact with the bleeder fabric. It doesn't necessarily have to be wet to bleed, unfortunately.

  8. #8
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    Bleeding fabrics now can lead to a disaster later....why take the chance? Get some retayne (Connecting Threads for less than $10) and do in similar color batches....you will save yourself a lot of grief later. There are lots of quilters with horror stories about bleeding fabrics that ruined the quilt.

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