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Testing Fabric for Colorfastness

Remember, before starting a project, newly purchased fabric should be washed and dried prior to use. This will pre-shrink the fabric. You will also want to test for colorfastness at this time (reds in particular).


You can do this by filling a glass or bowl with water and a drop of liquid soap. If the water turns colors it is not a colorfast dye. As an alternative test, you can wet a piece of fabric and press between two pieces of white fabric or a paper towel to determine if the dye transfers.

If it does, you can either not use this fabric in your project or attempt to set the dye. You can soak the fabric in cold water with a handful of salt. Or you can soak it in hot water with white vinegar, but only if the fabric can be washed in hot water. You may want to recheck colorfastness after doing either of these options to make sure it is fully set.

Taking the time to set dye at the beginning will help prevent bleeding in the future that may ruin the entire project.

By Barbara from Port Orchard

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December 20, 20150 found this helpful

It's hard to find anything that is colorfast today! What happened to colorfast fabrics? Nearly everything I buy from the plus size stores or mail order catalogs has colors running when I wash them, except for acrylic items. Poly-cottons run, cottons run, even 100% polys run. I also noticed that very few things are permanent press anymore. It seems like we've gone backward in clothing production.

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December 22, 20150 found this helpful

When my dad was very young he had a job dying fabrics the old-fashioned way. He knew which dyes were colorfast and which were not. To this day colorfastness is a major concern for him when buying clothes.

A tip from my dad: Dickies has the most colorfast black.

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