Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:
Fabric Dyeing


I spent two days last week dyeing fabric. It was a lot of fun, but tiring standing on my feet so much. In the end, I created about four yards of brightly colored fabrics.

This was my first attempt at dyeing fabric. I have done some tie-dyeing in my younger days. But, this venture was planned to acquire a basic understanding of how dye interacts with fabric. I wanted to understand the concepts I had been reading and see the results for myself. I could also decide if I enjoyed this enough to invest in better supplies. For this project, ;I purchased basic supplies and pre-washed muslin fabric I had on hand, rather than purchasing PFD fabrics; PFD=Prepared For Dyeing. I chose to use Rit liquid dyes in three basic colors: Fushia, Aquamarine, and Lemon Yellow. These were a good choice because of the ease of use, low cost, and convenience in purchasing. I prepared an area for my dyeing area and dressed appropriately. Here are the results of my first dyeing attempts, along with my table set-up.


I chose to do low-water immersion for my first day of dyeing. Since the muslin fabric that I had on hand was 54" wide, the sample pieces that I cut were larger than traditional fat quarters. I did not use an adequate amount of dye to obtain a bright color. The volume of dye to the weight of the fabric determines the depth of the color. From this dyeing experience, I determined that the amount of water added to the container did not make a difference in the depth of color, only the weight of the fabric.

Here's a look at the table with the dye containers, and some of the fabrics after removing them from the dye. The fabric on the right was dyed using a different mix of colors and more dye than the fabric on the left, giving a darker shade.

Here are more samples of my second dyeing attempts using the correct volume of dye for the weight of the fabric. I used recipes from a Quilting Arts TV project on fabric dyeing. See how much brighter my aquamarine and lime green samples appear next to the first attempts. The mottled look is achieved by the low-water immersion technique. I tried Japanese Shibori dyeing techniques for my second day of dyeing. I will follow-up with those samples in another post.

Happy Dyeing!

Published Sun, Jul 14 2013 3:24 PM by Pamela


# re: Fabric Dyeing@ Tuesday, July 16, 2013 7:51 AM

Great photos!  Thanks for sharing the results of your experimentation with dye volume.  :)  In your case, all your results are pretty.  I always enjoy seeing the results from different techniques.

Carolyn (CarolBeau)