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PFD and RFD Definitions

What's the deal?

Natural cotton, after weaving and washing, is an off-white color like a light shade of ecru or cream. Normally, if the fabric is to be dyed, it goes straight to the dyer at that point. If it is to be sold as bleached fabric or made into "white" clothing, it is first bleached, washed, then often treated with optic whiteners and washed again. Optic whiteners are kind of like a white dye. While technically there is no such thing as a "white" dye, the optic whiteners occupy on a molecular level, the same spaces as dyes do. Therefore, natural, unbleached fabrics are said to take dyes better than "white" or optically whitened fabric.

Ready to Dye (RTD):

This usually means:
  • There were no starches, sizing or finishes applied to the fabric which could interfere with the dyeing.
  • The item may or may not be sewn with cotton thread.
  • The item may or may not be cut oversize to allow for shrinkage.

I have to tell you that I've never been able to see a difference between PFD and RTD fabrics after they are dyed. The reduction in the amount of dye absorbed due to the presence of optic whiteners is hard for me to see. (Your mileage may vary.)

However, many tie-dyers, stampers, batikers and other craftpersons prefer bleached, optically whitened fabric and clothing so where the fabric is left white, it's really white and not off-white.

Prepared for Dyeing (PFD):

Generally speaking, a PFD item:
  • Has had no optic whiteners added and is off-white in color.
  • Is sewn with cotton thread (so the stitching dyes the same color).
  • Is usually cut oversize because it is understood that the garment is going to be dyed and will shrink.

In any case, everything we sell, clothing and fabrics, takes dye very well! (We test dye each item line before we decide to sell it. Some are PFD and some are RTD. Most of our clothing is sewn with cotton thread, but not all. We make it clear which is which with a cotton thread icon.

We've got you covered - no problem!


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