How to Dye Fabric

Finished fabric stack

I am a stickler for colors. If I can’t find what I am looking for I often create my own, whether it’s paint, or other mediums like fabric. Recently, I was on the hunt for some natural linens and was disappointed at my color choices. I decided to dye my own fabric.

Dying fabric is not nearly as complicated as it may seem. There are a few do’s and don’t’s in order to achieve the color you are looking for.

When i worked as a designer, one of my jobs was to dye sample fabric. I would be given a small swatch of the color I was to achieve. The fabric would then be cut and sewn into a compete garment sample that would be sent over seas for mass production.

It didn’t take me long to get pretty good at it, here are my designer secrets:

Washer before


For this to work, you must use a 100 percent natural fiber like cotton or linen. Poly blends and other fabric blends don’t dye well.  You must also pre-wash your fabric. The dying process is 100 percent improved by dying the fabric when it is already WET.


Step 1: Wash your fabric with a bit of soap. Pull it out of the washer wet, do not dry it.




Step 2: Fill the washer again, this time with HOT water.

Step 3: Add several tablespoons of salt.

adding the dye


Step 4: Add the dye. Powdered dyes work well for light colors. If you are dying darker shades, use the liquid dye. It is also necessary to buy double the amount of dye for darker shades. I wanted a light shade for this yellow, so I only used one package of dye.

Dye in the washer


Step 5: Allow the washer to agitate and mix the dye into the water. After it is thoroughly mixed you can add the wet fabric. Allow the washer to run through the full wash cycle with an extra rinse.

Step 6: Pull out your completed fabric and dry as usual. The fabric can be washed normally after dying, as needed. Hotter temperatures will fade the dye, so I would recommend using warm or cold water for washing.

Step 7: Run the wash cycle again with a cup of bleach to clean the wash tub.

Finished fabric stack


It won’t take you long to figure out how to achieve great results. My yellow fabric turned out beautifully. I can’t wait to get sewing!


More on this project, coming soon!

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