Fabric Dying Adventure

I bought some white-on-white ‘Lakehouse Seed Catalog’ fabric from Brenda Pink Castle Fabrics a few weeks ago with the specific intent on dying it. Rossie is experienced in fabric dying, and so she gave me a few tips and answered my questions.

Here is my fabric fresh out of the dryer. If attempting this, you will want to wash it before you use the dye. I purchased dye from Dharma Trading Co., and specifically, I am using the procion dye in turquoise. Their shipping was quite pricey (I paid more in shipping than I did in product), but as far as I can tell, they are the only ones that sell their dye. I was dying a 3-yard cut of fabric. I’m going to tell you exactly what I did just for reference, although the information is up on the Dharma site if you are dying a different amount (the instructions are quite lengthy, so I wrote them down so I could have them in handy access while I was in the middle of coloring the fabric). You can either dye your fabric in the washing machine or bathtub (or some other large container).

-3 yards fabric
-1-1/2 tablespoon procion dye
-4-1/2 gallons water
-4-1/2 cups salt
-1/2 cup soda ash (available from Dharma)
-3 teaspoon calsolene oil (available from Dharma)

Put water in tub. Paste up dye with warm water. Smash with a spoon to make gravy. Add a cup of warm water to make slurry. Add to tub. Pour in non-iodized salt (Morton makes non-iodized salt, as do I’m sure others, which is readily available at the grocery store). Add calsolene oil (the calsolene oil was suggested on the site to make the dye take more evenly in larger pieces; I could possibly have done without it, but I didn’t want to take a chance since I feel that 3 yards is a big cut). Add fabric. Stir gently but frequently for 20 minutes. Add soda ash (dissolve in warm water and add slowly over 15 minutes…do not pour it over the fabric). Then continue stirring for 30-60 minutes (I took mine out after 30 minutes, just because I was tired of sitting there). Use cool running water until it runs clear. Wash in hot water (I threw it in my washing machine).

I let my kids help me stir occasionally, because they like to help. 🙂 The fabric looked extremely dark in the tub. Since this was my first time dying fabric, I did not know what to expect. I think if I had kept it in longer during the last phase, it might have turned out darker, or perhaps adding more dye can also make the color deeper.

So here are my final results! My first reaction was that it was a bit light, but when I compared it with the fabrics I am using this with (it is going to be the background fabric for a Tula Pink ‘The Birds and the Bees’ quilt and also for a matching body pillow), it really is going to be perfect. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

I have several more applications of dye left in the container (I bought the smallest one), so I may dye some more fabric in future..it was definitely an experience!!

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16 replies on “Fabric Dying Adventure

  • Avital

    I am able to buy procion dye from another brand at my local art supply shop. Like the one where real artists shop that sells high quality paints etc, not Michaels! I think the brand is Jaqquard? I don’t have any here to check. They also carry a great little product called iDye (dharma sells it too) that works fantastic in the washing machine. I’ve dyed all sorts of things with great success with iDye. It’s a little capsule, and it dissolves in the water, and you don’t have to add any salt or anything. I’ve tried three times to use the procion dye and have had limited success with getting the depth of colour that I wanted, but iDye has worked great for me each time. The only downside to it is that it doesn’t have as wide of a range of colours, but you could mix them, I’ve just never tried.

  • Lori

    Wow, how cool. Sometimes I just cant find the color fabric in the pattern Im looking for. Can other dyes be used with success?
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  • Lynne

    I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can get out on my back veranda and do some of that kind of dyeing. Yours is so pretty and what a great job for your first time.

  • Gayle Gardner

    I realy like how the words didn’t dye. I just had a dye experience with a pair of jeans for my daughter. She had off white ones and a mud stain on the behind. So she picked orange, yes, I said orange and we (I) dyed them. She has gotten complements when she wears them and some people ask where she bought them. So I guess it was a success. I do like your blue color very nice.

  • crymson

    that looks great! one question…did your tub tint blue? sounds silly but that’s been my concern about dying in my tub. I’m even more worried about my washing machine since that’s where all the rest of my clothes go. =)

  • Allison C

    Is there a reason you chose procion over the Fiber Reactive Dye which is suggested for cotton? I just ordered some fiber reactive dye from Dharma last week. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing?


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