How to Test for ColorfastnessJuly 08, 2022

74 Montano colorways in 3.5mm silk ribbon

Has this ever happened to you?  A gazillion hours of work on a stitching project and you're finally finished!  You love it!  You're so happy!!  You decide to wash your creation--even with the best of care, things can get dirty while working on your project.

Then, disaster!  Some threads bleed. 

How to fix?  Build a time machine and do what you should have done--test your threads BEFORE you start!!

I know, I're so excited to start on that wonderful new project that you can't wait to pick up your needle and stitch. 

You've heard the proverb: "A Stitch in Time Saves Nine", right?  Well here's your new mantra: "Testing Before Saves Tears Galore"

Judith Baker Montano's classic book Elegant Stitches (C&T Publishing, 1995) has USEFUL TIPS on page 20:

    Before working the design, test your threads, yarns or ribbons for color-fastness.

    Place these in a glass of water with part of them up and over the edge of the glass.  Leave for 10 minutes, then remove and layout on a white paper towl or non-abrasive fabric.

    Using your fingers, press between the towel, then open and check for color stains.

Treenway Silks uses acid dyes, which chemically bond the dye molecules to the silk when heat is applied. The acid dyes we use require heating to 185 degrees Farhenheit for 3-5 hours, depending on how deep the color is, then we allow the pots to slowly cool down. We rinse until clear, removing any unattached dye molecules.  That said, I always recommend that people TEST before stitching, especially if using deep, saturated colors on snowy white fabric.

We recommend cold to cool water and minimize the soaking time (3-5 minutes).  We use Syntrapol or Dharma Professional Textile Detergent.  Both are designed to keep any loose dye molecules suspended in the water.  Both are concentrated so just a few drops are needed. 

On your next-to the last rinse, add about a tablespoon of white vinegar.  Many people think that vinegar "sets the dye" but with acid dyes and silk, it's purpose is to return the silk to it's ever-so-slightly naturally acid state.  If you remember your chemistry, soap is "base" (opposite of acid), which doesn't make the silk happy.  The FINAL rinse should always be clear water.

People ask about color catchers...I have never used them but others report good results. 
People ask about other brands of soap--Orvus Paste, Eucalan, etc., I've not tried them personally but I've heard good reports. I have used simple, mild shampoo (after all, both hair and silk are protein).

Judith Baker Montano is an amazing artist.  Judith has been teaching internationally for decades and she has published at least 13 titles (I have most of them!)  Whenever I have a needlework question, I pull out one of her books--she's so knowledgeable!

Judith is also a master colorist.  Judith and Treenway Silks began collaborating in 2005...Judith's vision of colors and Treenway Silks' dye and silk expertise to create the Montano colorways. 

These colorways are like little watercolors--the colors ebb and flow like a painting.  Each is gorgeous--I can't pick a favorite as I love them all!

We dye 74 Montano colorways in 3.5mm silk ribbons and Tranquility (fine silk cord)
We dye 17 Montano colorways in Harmony (6-strand silk floss) and Serenity.
We dye 12 Montano colorways in 7mm silk ribbon.