Best dyeing techniques for adding fun and colour to fabrics

November 26, 2014

Changing or enhancing the color of textiles can revive the most tired-looking drapes or clothes. Here are the best dyeing techniques for adding fun and color to fabrics.
Can all fabrics be dyed?

Most natural fabrics can be dyed, if you use the right product and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Of particular importance is the soaking time which, if not followed, may cause some fabrics to shrink.

A general warning: avoid dyeing polyesters and acrylics!

Which kind of dye should I use?

  • Cotton, linen and viscose: liquid dye.
  • Wool, polyamide and silk: powdered dye.
  • Muslin and sheers: cold water dye.

Technique for using the washing machine

Did you know that you can use your washing machine to dye fabrics such as cotton and linen? Here's how:

  1. First, wash and dry the fabric.
  2. Place the fabric in the washing machine; don’t fill it too full. Set it to a 600C cycle without a prewash.
  3. Add the dye; the amount you add depends on the shade you want and the weight of the fabric.
  4. Add salt to help the dye penetrate the fibers.
  5. Once the cycle is complete, start a normal wash cycle.
  6. Dry the fabric flat, but don’t expose it to direct sunlight.

It’s also possible to dye fabrics by soaking them in a pan on the stove, but it's a much messier operation.

Fabric dyeing technique for delicates

Want to dye a delicate fabric such as silk? It’s best to do it by hand, with a cold water dye. To do this:

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water.
  2. Mix the dye in the water.
  3. Immerse the fabric and stir it well with a stick or your hands. Wear gloves to avoid staining your hands.
  4. Soak for 45 minutes so that the fabric is completely saturated.
  5. Rinse in cold water, then dry on a flat surface.

Technique for tie-dyeing fabrics

Here is the way to achieve a hippy-inspired tie-dye look:

  1. Pour a few drops of food coloring in a large container filled with water, or follow the instructions on the box of fabric dye.
  2. Bunch together a small section of fabric and secure it with an elastic band to form a knot. Repeat here and there over the fabric.
  3. Dip each bunched up section in the dye and wait for it to soak up some of the color. The longer you wait, the darker the color will be.
  4. Repeat this step for each color, with the other pieces of fabric held bunched together by elastic bands.
  5. Allow the fabric to dry.
  6. Once dry, remove the rubber bands and wash the fabric in cold water and vinegar to set the colors.

You now know the best fabric dyeing techniques. Use old scraps of fabric to experiment with so you don’t ruin your precious blouse on the first try. Soon, you'll be producing unique fabrics that get lots of envious looks. Have fun!

Best dyeing techniques for adding fun and colour to fabrics
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