How To Dye Fabric

Posted on August 16, 2019 by Robyn Silverstein

Maybe you used to love a certain color that you’re no longer into, maybe you have an event that requires a certain look you don’t have in your closet, or maybe the type of fabric you like doesn’t come in the color you need - for whatever reason you need to alter the color of your fabric or garment, here’s how to do it! 

We strongly recommend dyeing natural fabrics such as cottonlinen,  silk, or wool. For tips on dyeing each, please read on to step #5! Also note, dyeing is not recommended for fabric blends, 100% polyester, acrylic, acetate, or any fabrics with special finishes.

Purchase Materials Used Below:

Other Materials Needed:

  • Washing Machine
  • Bucket (optional)
  • 1 cup measuring cup
  • Vinegar or salt (fabric dependent- read on for more details)
  • Tool to stir with

1. Find your dye!

Important: Make sure to get enough dye for your fabric weight. Rit suggests 2-3lbs per bottle, so I used 2 bottles even though it was a bit more than called for. Better safe than sorry! 

I chose this Rit dye because it’s all purpose!

2. Fill washing machine

Fill your washing machine or bucket with HOT water- enough for the garment to move freely.

3. Wet your garment

I did this in the sink. I believe pre-soaking the garment will allow the dye to enter the fabric fibers evenly -- I don’t want a blotchy dye job!

4. Add your dye

Add your dye into machine or bucket and mix with something you will not use for consumption (so no kitchen supplies please!) I used a wooden stick from my dads workshop- sorry dad, hope you didn’t need it! Important: Make sure not to use anything that will damage your fabric, i.e. sharp or splintering objects.

5. What fabric are you dying? 

For silk, nylon or wool: you must also add white vinegar (1 cup per bottle of dye used) and mix until thoroughly incorporated. 

For cotton, rayon, ramie, linens or fabric blends add salt (1 cup per bottle of dye used) and mix until thoroughly incorporated. 

Not recommended for: 100% polyester, acrylic, acetate, or any fabrics with special finishes. For these, check out our iDye Poly dyes!

6. Add your garment!

Add garment into the dye mixture and continuously stir for 30-60 min. I did 60min as I wanted to ensure that the fabric became completely saturated as I was dying over rich colors

7. Lock in your new color

I then hand washed the fabric in the sink with cold water to get out as much extra dye as possible (wear gloves!) It suggests you wash until it runs clear but that feels impossible, so it’s okay if there’s some color still running! You can also run it through the wash with no detergent but if you’re impatient like I am, the sink option is much faster than waiting 50-something minutes for a wash cycle, especially because of the next step!

8. Now send it through the wash.

Use cold water and a very small amount of detergent. It is also a good idea to run something you don’t care much about, like an old towel, through the wash once you’re finished to pick up any residual dye. You don’t want to accidentally dye the rest of your clothes black- but I actually might!

9. TA-DA!

Now it’s dyed! Do not put in the dryer but allow it to air dry. Once dry, steam the wrinkles out and then all that’s left to do is look fabulous!

Notes, reminders & warnings!

  • If your fabric is previously multicolored, the fabric will not dye solid- it is best to work with a solid color unless you want that pattern to show through like I did with this ombre fabric!
  • If the garment did not reach the desired color, repeat the process again.
  • Make sure the dye you use works for your fabric type. Reference step 5.
  • Don’t forget to wear gloves!
  • Never use supplies that will be used again for consumption.
  • For silk, nylon or wool: you must also add white vinegar (1 cup per bottle of dye used) and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  • For cotton, rayon, ramie, linens or blends add salt (1 cup per bottle of dye used) and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Not recommended for : 100% polyester, acrylic, acetate, or any fabrics with special finishes.

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