Why you wash your fabric first

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I tried to iron the creases out of a piece of purple sari fabric but they were well and truly staying put. I'm not a fan of steam iro Purple fingersns (however expensive they are they always seem to drip water and that leaves water marks) so I always wet the piece thoroughly and iron it dry. Half an hour later however, the purple dye was still coming out of the fabric (synthetic fabric I'm thinking which is why it wouldn't hold the dye).
Problem is now my fingers are purple...
One of lifes little mysteries: why won't it stay in the fabric but it will stay on my skin!