Fabric Manipulation - Working With Fabric Dyes

Hi Everyone! This week we wrap up the topic of fabric manipulation with a look at fabric dyes. This is a great way to add a unique touch to your garments! With a bit of trial and error and all the right supplies, I'm sure you'll learn to confidently add this technique to your project planning.

For this section, we will be looking at purchased liquid dyes, such as Rit brand liquid dye or Tulip brand liquid dye. These types of fabric dyes can be used on a variety of fabric types from natural fibers like 100% cotton, rayon, and linen, as well as most synthetics or blends. I just recommend testing small fabric samples to see how the dye absorbs into your chosen fabric to be sure you achieve the result you're hoping for.

Fabric Dyeing Basics:

1. Gather the necessary supplies: Besides the dye itself, you'll need a few additional supplies.
  • Pretty rubber or disposable latex gloves
  • Large plastic bags,  plastic drop cloth, and towels to cover your work area
  • Salt (for natural fibers) and possible vinegar (for synthetic fibers)
  • Dye containers - stainless steel bowls, plastic buckets, upcycled pots, or an upcycled roasting pan (check stores like Goodwill!)
  • Stirring utensils
  • Fabric or garments to dye 
2. Prep your work area:
  • Cover your area with a large plastic garbage bag or drop cloth to protect any dye absorption onto places you wouldn't want it!
3. Soak your items:
  • This step is very important! The dye will absorb more evenly if the item is wet. This step also removes any sizing or treatments that might be on the fabric.
4. Mix the dye:
  • You can use pots and bring water to just shy of a boil, or run your tap water until it's super hot. Mix the dye according to the package directions. The Rit full bottle will dye 2 lbs of fabric. If your dying in small batches, like the methods we show in the video, then you might just use half the bottle at a time. We've used 1 gallon of water with 1/2 the bottle of dye. Add the salt to the dye/water mix - the general rule is 1/4 cup per 1/2lb of fabric (so if you've added half the bottle of dye, then add 1/2 cup salt to the mix).
5. Create works of art!
  • For full rich color, submerge your item into the dye for a full 30 minutes.
  • Rinse the item in hot water until it begins to run clear. The switch to cold water to shink back the fibers to set the dye.
  • For experimental colors (like mint green) do quick dips and test for the color you'd like to achieve. Note - mint green can be made using Kelly Green dye - simply mix it and dip very quickly, rinse it and Viola! The result is a delicate mint green color. Oh, and another note - wet fabric will look darker than the dry version, so test your fabric all the way to dry!
  • See some fun examples in the videos posted below.

In the video posted below, Melinda and I share with you a few fast, easy, and fun examples of fabric dyeing in action. I hope this will encourage and inspire you to try something new!



Pattern Overview (designs shown in the videos)


    Week Four Task:

    • Watch the videos and then get your gloves, an apron and make some magic with fabric! Then pop over to the facebook group and share your work! 





    March 05, 2018

    Is this coupon for March ? Or February? Fabric1802. Do we have one for March?

    Mary Helen
    Mary Helen

    February 28, 2018

    Donna—-There are tips that screw onto the glue bottle so the line of glue will be as fine as a pencil line if you want it to be. Or get a bottle with the precision tip. Google “glue bottle tip” to see a large selection. I use the glue to pin up hems and other fine tasks.


    February 28, 2018

    not much of a drawing artist so i used a small stencil with the elmers glue…sort of worked some areas ended with glue over run next time i will put it on in layers


    February 27, 2018

    Like the Elmer’s glue resist dye technique. One problem – I can barely draw a recognizable stick figure and am envisioning the mess I would make trying to draw picture on tee with bottle of glue. ?


    February 27, 2018

    So cute! I look forward to making dyed shirts with my little granddaughter!

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