We all need a new hobby right about now, so how about trying to dye your own fabric? Fabric dye is the best way to repurpose, reuse and have a little fun as you plan your big day. I believe it is the little details that bring a look together and to make sure I get it right – I love to get my hands dirty.
Whether you are planning a modern, elegant event or backyard boho party, adding some DIY touches can be really beautiful. When it come to getting the perfect shade of your fabric, skip the hassle of matching swatches and do it yourself, with a little help from some off-the-shelf fabric dye
After seeing fabric dyed wrong so many times, here is my best advice to get it done right.
Everything can be dyed, but not everything should. Do not dye your wedding dress without a professional. Seriously. DO NOT DYE YOUR WEDDING DRESS. And while we are at it, do not dye any attire or anything with sentimental or monetary value. Stick to décor, table linen and anything you can throw away.
Have some fun. Go to the thrift store or rummage through your linen closet and look at repurposing fabric from clothing, bedding and textiles. You can also pick up large fabric pieces (6ft+) from a secondhand store for under $5.
Look for light coloured fabric and be thoughtful of texture and weight. Light/airy fabric such as chiffon, tulle or organza is great for draping on arches and higher décor. Mid weight fabric is good on tables, fabric should get heavier as it gets closer to the ground. Tapestries and woven material keep low and are good for rugs and upholstery.
Follow directions on the box. Dying fabric is simple – if you follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Check the fabric and be sure to get synthetic dye for synthetic material.
Be patient as even plastic can easily be dyed, it just takes the right concentration, time and heat. I find the colour on the box is very accurate. If you are looking for a different shade, buy a different box or brand. If you are really brave you can start mixing colours, but play it safe and always test your fabric first.
Dye fabric outside – not only for your health (the fumes off some of the dyes can be very strong), but those little drips and vapour will destroy anything they land on. I know all the YouTube videos show people dyeing in their kitchen, but do not do it. Save your cupboards, floor and counter tops.
Your tools need to be disposable. I have a dedicated pot for dyeing fabric that is only for dyeing fabric. Once a utensil or tool has been used with dye, it can no longer be used for food. I use wooden chopsticks to stir and a piece of thick cardboard for a pot lid. I then transfer the fabric into a bucket that is dedicated for dying to rinse.
Test the shades and colour saturation. Cut a small piece of fabric and place it in the dye solution five minutes before the main fabric. This will give you a sneak peek of what the fabric will look like in the future. I am always tempted to give fabric a little more pigment. My five-minute fabric test strip is my time machine into the future.
Buy an extra pack of dye. Most of the dye will wash out in the initial rinse session. The fabric will end up a lot lighter than it did in the pot. The extra dye will save you a trip back to the store and is so cheap that you might as well get more in case you need it.
Rinse, rinse and repeat. When you are done, rinse (in a stainless steal sink) and wash the fabric with soap a few extra times. The last thing you want is the fabric to bleed onto your dress or surrounding fabric. Test the dyed fabric by rubbing it against white fabric and to make sure it won’t bleed onto anything.
Written by Vonda-Lee Sharun. Vonda-Lee was an international fashion model for 10 years before starting her own design label, Ayla Rae. Ayla Rae designs are sold through Rae’s Closet, and across numerous bridal stores across Western Canada.