information about fabric and dyes
what fabric do I use?
I dye cotton fabric. Here are a few specific fabrics that I keep on hand and use regularly:
fine broadcloth: this is a beautiful fabric with a lustre that makes it often look like silk. I've been using this fabric for many years (more than 15, anyway). It's available as S200 from Pro Chemical, where I also get my dyes.
sandwashed cotton: a delicious fabric from Dharma Trading Company, with a bit more heft to it than the above. More information is available here.
broadcloth: another cotton broadcloth, not as fine as the first fabric I describe here, but a very nice quality. This is the one I use for stitch-resist pieces.
sateen: heavier than any of the other fabrics I use. One side is beautifully smooth, and the other is a twill.
what dyes do I use?
I use a class of dyes called Procion MX. These are fiber-reactive dyes, which means the dye forms a chemical bond with the cotton fiber. The color is not just on the surface of the fabric, as with paints, but permeates the cloth itself. For more information about this sort of dye, go here. There are over a dozen pure colors, and a nearly endless variety of mixed colors available from ProChem or Dharma. These dyes are relatively light-fast and wash-fast. In terms of light, it's the ultraviolet rays that affect the colors the most, so you'd want to avoid fluorescent lights and strong sunlight. (You want permanent color, try ceramics or stained glass!)
...and the two together:
All my dyed fabric has been washed in very hot water, and should not shrink further. As I've said above, the colors are relatively fast, and most of the fabrics I use are tough enough to take quite a lot of abuse! Having said that, I must point out that any cloth will deteriorate with time, and colors will change eventually. (You want permanence, try ceramics or stained glass!)