Different fabrics may take dye differently. For example, in England my friends and I gathered Elderberries that grew along a garden path. Cooking the berries smelled fantastic. We added mordant to our hand spun yarns and placed them in the dyepot.
The wool came out a burgundy color, which we expected. The silk placed in the same dye pot with the same mordant came out lilac colored. It does happen that way.
Rayon, nylon and other synthetic fabrics will most likely take dyes differently than natural fibers. That’s part of the fun of dyeing.
Note: When dyeing purchased fabric, yarn or clothing, wash first to remove the sizing. The sizing will prevent dye from reaching all of the fibers. If you do not, you will likely wind up with a “heather” look- that could be what you are going for.
Dye fabric, clothing, yarn and more with these techniques.
There are definitions you should know about dyeing:
Mordant- this is a fixative. It binds the color to the fibers in the fabric.
Dye- a substance used to change a fabric’s color
For All Techniques You will need:
- · Fabric or clothing to be dyed
- · Gloves
- · Safety glasses in case of splashing or accidents
- · Measuring cups and tools that will not be used for food
- · Plastic tub
- · Dyestuff
- · Mordant
Items specific for individual techniques are given in those directions.
This uses simple powdered drink mix. You can use name brand drinks or off name brand. Different flavors create different colors. Of course, grape needs no mordant. White vinegar becomes the mordant for the colors.
For 12″ by 12″ squares- mix 1regular package of powdered drink mix with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Add ¼ to ½ cup water.
Twist, fold, tie knots in the fabric, wrap rubber bands around it or use other methods to wrinkle the fabric. It is important the wrinkles remain when you place the fabric in the dye. You can apply multiple colors of dye using paintbrushes. The effect will be spectacular.
Dampen the fabric and place in the dye. After 5-10 minutes, remove and allow to dry. Undo the knots to see your work- the dye cannot get into the areas of folds, under the rubber bands, knots or other tight spots. You create a pattern just by wrinkling the fabric.
This technique has been around for many years. Instead of using a lot of chemicals, you can use ordinary commercial dyes available in grocery and big box stores. You can use bottled or boxed dye.
This is generally used on long sheets of fabric. You’ll see white transitioning into a light color, then darker and darker shades of the same color. This is how it’s done.
In a plastic tub- an inexpensive 18-gallon tub is fine- mix the bottle or powdered dye in hot water according to the directions.
Decide how long you want your shade strips to be- mark the fabric with colored threads, pins or other method.
Roll your fabric over a wooden dowel or other support. Dampen your fabric. Set your timer for 5 minutes and insert the fabric into the dye bath up to the first mark. When the timer goes off, set it again and unroll the fabric to the next mark. Repeat until you get to your “white mark.”
Lay your fabric out flat to dry. Do not wring or attempt to wash it yet. Laying it on an old sheet over tables or on a clean lawn is fine.
When dry, wash in mild non-detergent soap and tumble dry on low. This removes the excess dye.
To make another sheet, mix a fresh batch of dye and repeat the process. You can dye several sheets in a day. Make these into curtains, clothing or anything you need.
Over Dyeing or Top Dyeing
This is a very old method used to create a second color by dyeing over a first color. In the Middle Ages for example, green was made by dyeing yarn and fabric yellow, and then with woad- a plant. Woad dye mixes with oxygen in the air and turns blue, which reacts with the yellow dye to become green.
Dye a colored fabric- example, yellow with orange dye, gray or off-white with different colors, etc. Using gray fabric tends to “sadden,” or dull a bright color. This may be desirable depending on what your color goal is.
Prepare your dye bath as you did for ombre dyeing. Dampen your fabric and insert it into the bath. Leave it in the dye bath for the prescribed length of time. Of course, you do not have to leave anything in a dye bath for 30 minutes. Five, ten, fifteen minutes, and so on will all give you different shades of color.
Allow the item to dry and wash in mild soap. The dryer will set the remaining dye.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse forms of DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.