Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to Dye Fabric

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It's baby onesie time again!  I know a ton of people who are having babies this spring and summer, so I knew I had to get busy making some baby crafts!  I bought a few onesies and threw in some other things like a marinara-stained white shirt of my daughter's and a cute white baby hat I had gotten on clearance at Gymboree about 10 years ago and intended on dyeing for my niece, who is now 10.  So I figured at least my daughter could use it if I gussied it up a little. I also threw in some plain white ribbon I'd been saving off packaging just to see what would happen to it. 

I purchased a Dylon fabric dye packet because the packaging is way more exciting than Rit dye.  The colors and pictures are vibrant and fun, which is the look I was going for.  The color I chose was Bahama Blue, which I figured would make a great base for either girl or boy onesies.  I took some pictures along the way so I could make this into a tutorial.  So do you want to learn how to dye fabric?  Here we go!

You need:

Dylon Fabric dye packet

1/2 lb. white cotton fabric (onesies, tees, pants, hats, etc.).  It is recommended that you weigh the fabric.  I did not because the only scale I have is one of those crappy ones that tells you you're five pounds different even if you weigh yourself two seconds apart.  I dyed one size 2 shirt, four ribbons, one hat, and 7 onesies.

Rubber gloves

4 cup glass measuring cup (or I used a 2 cup one and a glass pot since that's the biggest measuring cup I had)

4 tbsp. salt

something to stir with (I used a whisk so it would wash clean of the dye)

plastic bag

stainless steel sink or a bucket to dye in  (I recommend the bucket.  I think my sink may still have a blue hue....)

Let's get started!

First make sure that all of your fabric has been prewashed to remove sizing and is wet.

Next, fill your sink with warm water and stir in 4 tbsp. salt.  The Dylon packaging recommends you use enough water for the fabric to move around freely.  I did not do this because I was hoping if I didn't use too much water the dye would be more concentrated and the color would be bolder.  It ended up being darker than the packaging, so this or the next trick may have worked. 
Add Dylon dye powder to 4 cups of warm water.  (I used 3 1/2 cups, again to try to make the color darker.)
 Stir the dye and then add to the water in the sink.

 Add your fabric!
Stir for 15 minutes.  This is the boring part.  Maybe a good time to do squats?  Then stir periodically for 45 minutes.
Put on your gloves and remove dye, rinsing in cold water.  I used the plastic bag to put the dyed fabric in to transport it to the washing machine.
Wash your fabric in warm water.  I ran these through the heavy soiled wash cycle 3 times and the water was still a little blue.  You might want to recommend to whoever you give these to that they wash these by hand or give them some color catchers just in case.  I was thrilled to find that these were still very bright!  :)
Finally, hang your fabric up to dry away from heat and sunlight.  (Not sure why this is, but it was in the directions on the packaging.)  Now you have beautiful dyed fabric gifts to give to others, or (as I plan to do) to continue to craft with!  Stay tuned to see what these turn into! 

How cute is this hat?!


  1. Very neat tuturial on dying fabric. I tie dye myself, but use a different technique and dye. Why do you use salt? Does it build a connection between the fabric and dye?

  2. Great tutorial! You have inspired me to use the dye that's been sitting in my craft cabinet for over a year now.

  3. Very good tutorial. Gives me some ideas for old tees in the drawers upstairs.

  4. I have always been a little nervous about using dye, guess there was really not a reason for this! Thanks for making it look easy!



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