[Tutorial] DIY Dye Palooza!

Here's a new photo tutorial for you all, I hope it helps you save time and effort in your crafting!


  • Dyes will not work on synthetic fabrics like acrylic, etc. Like, AT ALL.
  • You need a special type of dye if you're working with natural fibers (like wool or silk). You can purchase these online.
  • In my experience, Rit brand dye works amazing on nylon and wood, but it doesn't really work great on cotton clothing. It comes out really light and blah-looking.
  • Fiber-reactive dyes are awesome on cotton fabric. 
  • Dylon permanent fabric dye (it's a fiber reactive, like tie dyes) works great on cotton compared to Rit. And you can buy it at your local craft store for about the same price as Rit. It won't bleed, either!
  • Get liquid dye if possible, to ensure the dye job is as even as possible.
  • If you do use powder, make sure to dissolve it in a small amount of warm water first!
  • Make sure to buy enough dye. Most powders can dye about 2 lbs of fabric. A whole bottle of Rit liquid dye was plenty to dye my Mom's coat a bright blue!
  • For Dylon dyes, you really need to dye it for a whole hour. It's worth it!!
Scarf dyed with Rit (left)  and redyed with Dylon  (right)

You will need:

  • Dirty, old clothes to wear
  • Newspaper or dropcloth
  • A wet rag
  • Long rubber gloves (key word here is long)
  • A mixing stick (they have these in the painting section of home improvement stores for free!)
  • A tall bucket--this must be dedicated to dyeing! You don't want those chemicals in your puts or pans.
  • Salt (if you're dying cotton) or vinegar (if you're dying nylon) 
  • The dye of your choice
  • Hot water
  • Something to dye!
  • Bleach (if needed)
  • Washing machine (optional but suggested)

Let's get started!

  • Prepare your area (the outside is better, if possible) with newspapers. Put them farther than you think you need--the dye splashes pretty far! If you do see a spot on the floor, quickly wipe it up with the wet rag, it shouldn't stain if you wipe it up right away! 
  • Put on your gloves and old clothes.
  • Clean out the bucket with hot water and soap to remove any residue.
  • Read the dye directions carefully for your dye! Follow them closely!
  • Get your sink running at its hottest. If that's not very hot, you might need to put the water on the stove to get it hot. Not boiling, but hot!
  • Fill your bucket with the recommended amount of water. I don't fill mine much over half full. That way it won't overflow when the fabric is added. 
  • Put your bucket on the newspapers, and carefully  open your dye. Either premix it with a little water (for powder) or slowly pour it in (liquid). 

  • Add in the required amount of salt or vinegar.
  • Mix with the mixing stick for a whole minute to ensure it is uniformly mixed. 
  • Soak your fabric in hot water and wring it out so it's wet but not dripping.
  • Unwrinkle the fabric as best you can--otherwise it could turn your project into a tie dye! 

Dyed Nylon Coat

My furry helper!

This was my mom's drab white winter coat that always looked dirty. It's a nice North Face jacket that was on clearance, and she needed something a little bolder. So I dyed it blue. I didn't think Rit would work so well, but the color only took 15 minutes to dye and it's a dark, bold royal blue. 

  • Make sure you've added vinegar!
  • After you've completely soaked the clothing and wrung it out, bring it to your bucket. 

  • Gently place the fabric into the bucket.
  • Use the mixing stick to move the fabric around, making sure that it is completely covered. You can use your hands (with gloves on!) if the water isn't too hot. 

  • Now for the tedious part...the fabric needs to be constantly moving to get an even coverage. Luckily for the coat, the dye was done in only 15 minutes. *NOTE* Most times using Rit Dye, the color will appear much darker before you wash it out. Surprisingly with this coat, the color stayed true. Must be the nylon...

  • Wring out the fabric carefully to remove excess dye. 
  • Take the fabric to a sink (preferably not porcelain, but that's all we have in my house--don't worry! Bleach gets out the stains quickly!) and begin to rinse out the dye. Start with warm water and go to cool water.

  • Once the water runs almost clear, you can machine wash your fabric (unless you are dyeing something very delicate, like silk). Put it on a warm cycle by itself in the machine. This removes any extra dye. You can add just a little dish soap to help all the extra dye come out.
  • And...you're done! Enjoy your new nylon awesomeness!  

Dip-Dye Scarf

This cotton scarf was so plain. It just needed something to spice it up a little! I've been in love with dip dye stuff for a while, so I finally had a successful project to share. Enjoy!

  • Decide where you want the dipped part of the fabric to be. If you need a guide, you can use safety pins to be a guideline. Or freehand it like me! Rubber bands don't work well, the dye can't reach into the wrinkles they create and it becomes uneven. 
  • Only wet the fabric about an inch over this line that you've created.
  • *TIP* I folded my wide scarf about 4 times to get an even straight line of dye. It helped a lot! 
  • Wash the sides of your dye bath with a little water to ensure no drops of dye hang on the edges. If a part of the fabric gets unwanted dye on it, quickly run a little water over it. 
  • Slowly lower the fabric straight  into the dye bath, slightly below where you want the dye to stop. 

  • Hold with one hand and agitate the fabric with the mixing stick in the other. 
  • Get comfy, you have to do this for 15 minutes, constantly!
  • After 15 minutes, I draped the scarf over the side of the bucket. You only need to mix it every 5 or 10 minutes now.The dye needs to set for a full hour in total.  Go watch the Dark Knight Rises, like I did! 

  • If you want a slight gradient effect, sink a little bit more of the scarf into the dye for the last 15 minutes. 
  • If you want a bigger, more natural gradient, you can dip the fabric deeper, for even less time. Running warm water over the scarf makes the line of dye less distinct.
  • When an hour is up, carefully wring out the fabric over the dye bath and bring it to your sink.
  • Run the cold water down the fabric to make sure that the excess dye doesn't stain the rest of your garment.
  • When the water runs almost clean, you can throw it in the washing machine! Run it on a warm cycle.
  • Finito! You're done! 

Clean up!

  • NEVER dump the dye in your lawn or sewer! It must be dumped down a proper drain in your house!
  • After rinsing your garment, wet the walls of the sink.
  • Slowly pour the dye down the drain.
  • Immediately after, pour a good amount of bleach in the sink. With a little scrubbing, the sink will not be permanently stained.
  • Wash and bleach your bucket as well. 
  • Voila! Squeaky clean!

Hope you all found this useful!

XOXO Joanna

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