How to Dye Your Own Fabric: No Fuss Hand-Dyed Fabric

dye your own fabric

Finally, fall is in the air. The New England landscape has turned from green to golden rust, and the blue sky is glistening in the background. Last weekend was perfect for outdoor activities like apple picking and leaf pile jumping (if you haven’t tried it, you really should). But the brilliant hues of nature also inspired me to experiment with a new-to-me technique creating hand-dyed fabric.

dye your own fabric

This armful of leaves was the color inspiration for my hand dyed fabric experiment.

And I knew just where to turn for guidance: Beyond the Basics: Dye Your Own Fabric is a new compilation of articles for fiber artists who may know how to dye fabric, but want more ideas for creating more complex cloth.

dye your own fabric

I had to dye in my kitchen because of the autumn breezes. It would have been great to do this outside.

I set aside one hour – just one – to play with Carol Eaton’s Confetti Dyeing process. After all, the weather was cooperating and I didn’t want to miss a jump in the leaves! (Confession: You have to let the fabric batch for at least two hours after applying the dye . . . total time for my project from start to finish was three hours. About 45 minutes of active dyeing, two hours of jumping in leaves, and 15 minutes rinsing and cleaning up.)

dye your own fabric

NOTE: When dyeing fabric, safety is always on my mind. Not only did I wear a respirator throughout this process, but also thick rubber gloves.

First, I gathered my supplies and chemicals, and then covered my kitchen table with plastic.

dye your own fabric

Notice the markings on all of my supplies: these measuring spoons and the mesh are only used for dyeing.

Next, I followed Carol’s instructions, soaking fat quarters of PFD fabric in soda ash solution for half an hour. This great kit (affiliate link) has soda ash plus assorted dye colors all in one! After squeezing the liquid from the fabric, I carefully spread the fabric on top of the plastic.

Note: After soaking the fabric, the soda ash can be returned to the container and saved for your next dye session. I store mine in a marked gallon jug in the basement.

dye your own fabric

Adding color is the fun part.

Now the fun part – adding color! I chose three colors of dye (I used Jacquard Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes – affiliate link), sprinkling about 1/4 tsp. at a time through a small strainer onto the cloth. One fat quarter was sprinkled and remained flat. The other two were manipulated and sprayed (after being sprinkled) with additional soda ash solution. Two more fat quarters were used for cleanup and blotting.

dye your own fabric

Five fat quarters are sprinkled with dye and now need to batch.

For a bit of fun, I also dyed three hanks of embroidery floss.

dye your own fabric

Perle cotton (such as this thread) and embroidery floss (affiliate links) can also be dyed in this manner. Don’t forget to soak them in soda ash before adding the dye powder.

After rinsing, washing and drying, I now have some gorgeous fabric to play with. Want to see the results? Check out this video where editor Kristine Lundblad and I talk about dyeing fabric, the safety issues involved, and reveal my one-hour experiment.

If you want to expand your dyeing repertoire, try a few new techniques, or learn how surface design artists such as Candy Glendening, Susan Purney Mark, Maggie Vanderweit, and Cindy Lohbeck create their own gorgeous hand dyed fabrics, download the new eBook Beyond the Basics: Dye Your Own Fabric. Each technique is presented in a clear and concise manner and accompanied by gorgeous photos and tips for success.

dye your own fabric

Check out this new eBook! What a great way to spend an hour or two. Then go outside and jump in the leaves!

 

dye your own fabric

What better way to spend a gorgeous November afternoon?

Best,

Vivika

 


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