Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce

Special orders won't upset us.

All we ask is that you let us serve it your way.  

OK, that's a blatant ripoff of the old Burger King jingle; however, it is still true. Within the limitations of what The Wits' End is able to screenprint (for example, we are not set up to print 4 color process), we're happy to try to accommodate special orders.  Recently, I received a some orders that required some work, my wife's shop, LaSeraphin Creations also had some orders that required some.  We source our shirts for each order locally.  Onesies (well, actually, Carter's infant bodysuits - onesies would be Gerber), XXXL and women's fitted shirts are usually only available in white in the Corpus Christi area.  The Wits' End had a few orders that required dying, and so did LaSeraphin Creations.  In all, I had to do two blue onesies with white ink, one yellow onesie with brown ink, one blue XXXL, one yellow XXXL, and one pink women's fitted. Time to break out the dying equipment.

I use Dharma Procion Fiber Reactive dyes for all of my dye jobs. For the shade of blue I needed for both the onesies and the unisex XXXL, I needed to mix two of the blue dyes I had.  The ratio I used was 1 Tbsp -1 tsp of Baby Blue, plus 1 tsp of Brilliant Blue. For the yellow onesie and unisex XXXL, the Golden Yellow that I have was a perfect match. Same for the pink women's fitted, the Baby Pink was just what I needed.
Dharma Procion fiber reactive dyes

It's going to be a long night.

Dying the items is a somewhat involved process.  It generally takes about 90 to 120 minutes for each shade (not counting the rinsing and drying time).  Since I only have one sink, I have to do each color separately. That works out to about six hours, plus the rinsing and drying times. However,  for the rinsing and drying, I don't have to stand over the items continuously - when I dye though, I have to be there constantly, stirring/mixing the fabric to make sure things dye evenly. This is the general process for dying:

  • Ensure that the garments are freshly laundered, any oils, even from fingerprints, could degrade the quality.
  • Gather up all of the items I need. Dyes, lots and lots of salt, urea (if necessary), soda ash, a tub to do the dying in, measuring and stirring utensils, rubber gloves, items to clean up any potential messes, since I'm doing this at the kitchen sink.
  • Dissolve salt into the water
  • Mash up the dye into a paste, and then add it to the water and make sure that it's thoroughly mixed.
  • Wet the fabric and put it into the tub.
  • Stir the fabric in the water (by stir, I really mean move it around continuously; hence the rubber gloves) for about 20 minutes.
  • Add dissolved soda ash to the water over a 15 minute period.  You have to be careful with this step - soda ash sets the dye into the fabric; however, if you get it directly onto the item, it will leave darker splotches.  So, you hold the fabric out of the way, pour in the dissolved soda ash, stirring it in to the water in a corner away from the fabric and then going back to stirring the items.
  • After the soda ash has been added, I'll continue stirring for 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon how deep a shade I need. I'll also add a liquid dye fixative during this stage.
  • I'll then have to give a preliminary rinse to the items, until the water runs mostly clear.  I'll then transfer the items to the washing machine for a full rinse and spin cycle. Then of course, to the dryer.
  • Clean up the tub to ensure that there isn't any dye left to contaminate the next batch, and clean up any mess around the sink.
  • Repeat as necessary for each color needed.
Here are the blue items as they're being dyed.
And here are the yellow.

A look at how they turned out

I ended up not doing the pink, since that order isn't due for a few more days, I'll do it tonight.  I'm in the process of doing up screens sufficient for the XXXL shirts (because, to be totally honest, the ones I have look ludicrously small on such a big shirt), but here is a shot of the onesies after I've screened them.  The white balance in the shot from the phone isn't perfect, the yellow onesie has a nice chocolate brown ink, but it looks black in the photo.

Let us know what you'd like

Remember, we love to try to accommodate any special requests that you might have, so don't hesitate to ask.

The Wits' End online store, or visit The Wits' End on Etsy

LaSeraphin Creations

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