Can be used spray paint on fabric

Dye fabric

Which fabrics can be dyed?

Basically, all fabrics that consist of at least 60 percent natural fibers can be dyed. The higher the proportion of natural fibers, the more intense the color. These substances include:

  • cotton
  • linen
  • viscose
  • hemp
  • Wool
  • silk

Care should be taken when dyeing silk and wool. You should make sure that you use suitable dyeing agents, adjust the temperature when dyeing to the temperature permitted on the label and pretreat silk with vinegar before dyeing.

Fabrics made of synthetic fibers, on the other hand, accept color rather poorly or not at all. These include:

  • polyester
  • Polyacrylic
  • polyamide
  • Zippers
  • Goretex
  • Sympatex
  • PU coated fabrics

tip: Before dyeing, it is always worth taking a look at the laundry label to determine the type of fabric.

Before dyeing, you should definitely also note that seams usually do not take on the desired color, as they are usually made of synthetic yarns. It would therefore be advisable if you are tailoring a new item of clothing to dye the fabric or use cotton thread before processing. In addition, particularly light-colored fabrics are suitable for dyeing. Dark fabrics can be dyed or bleached a maximum of darker. If the color difference is very large, e.g. B. from white to black, it may require several dyeing steps. You should also keep in mind that the basic color of the fabric in combination with the color of the dye can lead to color mixes and new tones. So you should make sure in advance which colors can result from the mixture. If necessary, you can test the coloring on a small piece of your fabric.

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You can choose between natural and synthetic colors for dyeing fabrics. These have different properties and possible uses:


Natural colors

Coloring with natural colors is particularly recommended for allergy sufferers and if you want to give the fabric a natural appearance. Coffee, tea, food and plants in particular can be used for coloring. So that the fabrics actually absorb the natural colors, it is important to treat the fabric with a stain, usually vinegar, before dyeing. The more of the basic materials are used and the longer the fabric is inserted, the more intense the color result can be. Silk and wool can also be dyed well with natural colors.

The following foods and plants are suitable for coloring:

  • Black tea: beige to brown tones
  • Coffee: shades of brown
  • Chamomile: light yellow color
  • Beetroot: pink color
  • Turmeric: golden yellow color
  • Onion: orange tones
  • Nettle: shades of green (stain: iron sulfate)
  • Spinach: light green tones
  • Red berries: pink / pink color (stain: salt)
  • Elder: violet color (stain: alum)
  • Red cabbage: purple color

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Synthetic colors

When it comes to synthetic colors, there is an almost unlimited range of colors. Synthetic dyeing is preferred, especially in industrial textile production, since the extraction of natural dyes is very complex and costly. Synthetic dyes are available in drugstores or online shops. Depending on the amount of fabric, a corresponding amount of dye must be used.

There are also synthetic agents that discolor (bleach) fabrics. This is advisable if you want to completely recolor a fabric or if you want to set color highlights.

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How can you dye fabrics?

Fabrics can be colored in different ways. The most common method is in the washing machine, especially when it comes to full dyeing or a specific color. However, it is also possible to dye the fabric in a tub or a pot. The latter is particularly recommended for color mixtures, sensitive fabrics such as silk and wool or when dyeing with natural colors. Before dyeing, always pay attention to the type of fabric, the dyeing temperature and the amount of fabric in order to choose the right method. If you don't dare to dye fabrics yet, you can start working with just textile dye. This is simply applied to the fabric with a brush or stamp and only needs to be dried.

tip: Always wear rubber gloves when dyeing!

There is no guarantee how long the color of a fabric will last. It is normal for the color to fade with the frequency of washing. Depending on the choice of color, you should make sure that you wash the fabrics with other similarly colored fabrics or even individually to avoid discoloration.

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Dyeing in the washing machine

When dyeing in the washing machine, it is important to ensure that the fabric is machine-washable. In addition, synthetic colorants, such as color salts, are best suited for the washing machine method.

How to dye in the washing machine:

  1. Weigh the fabric to be dyed to determine how much dye is needed.
  2. Before dyeing, wash the fabric at 40 ° or 60 ° degrees to remove chemical residues.
  3. Put the damp fabric in the washing machine.
  4. Start the washing machine program (easy care 40 ° or 60 ° degrees).
  5. After 5 minutes, add the dye via the detergent chamber and rinse with water (amount according to the dye instructions)
  6. Alternatively, and depending on the dye, it can also be added directly to the laundry drum.
  7. Once the washing machine has finished washing, restart it.
  8. This time, put regular laundry detergent in the detergent drawer.
  9. Then dry the fabric and you're done!

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Color in the pot

Dyeing in the pot works well with delicate fabrics such as silk and wool. In addition, individual colors can be mixed in this way.

How to color with natural colors in the pot:

  1. Wash the fabric you want to dye without using detergent.
  2. In a saucepan, mix water with the pickling agent that matches the color.
  3. Soak the fabric in the water-stain mixture over low heat for 1-2 hours.
  4. Wash off the fabric.
  5. Now bring fresh water to a simmer in a new (or washed) pot according to the amount of substance.
  6. Add the dye. In the case of natural colors, the food or teas / coffee.
  7. Put the fabric in the pot and let it simmer over medium heat until the desired color intensity is achieved.
  8. Important: stir continuously!
  9. Finally, rinse the fabric with cold water and wring it out.
  10. Let it dry and you're done!

When pot dyeing with synthetic dyes, there is no need for pretreatment with mordant. It is essential to follow the specific instructions on the dye!

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Techniques and patterns in dyeing

When dyeing fabrics, you don't necessarily have to dye it completely; patterns or partial dyeing are also possible. A common method of dyeing with patterns is batik. In the 1970s and 1980s in particular, batik was a popular method of giving fabrics and clothing items an individual character. Because: every pattern is different! Depending on how you tie the fabric, whether you add additional aids and how strong there are different patterns.

Packaging tape, string or rubber bands are suitable for binding. But also wooden clothespins hold the fabric together in the desired places and leave interesting patterns. In addition, fabric can also be folded as desired in order to obtain geometric patterns. Marbles or wooden plates can also be inserted into the bindings and folds in order to obtain further individual patterns. Classically, corners are simply tied to make circles.

What coloring techniques are there?

  • Batik (Tie-Dye) - With batik, twisting and tying the fabric and then dyeing it in different tones create unique patterns. Batik became known worldwide during the hippie movement in the sixties, the trend reappeared in the nineties and is celebrating its comeback today.
  • Dip technique - Here, the fabric is partially dipped in the color, left lying or hanging, so that the color forms a fringed edge or a harmonious color gradient.
  • Wax batik - A traditional dyeing technique from the Indonesian island of Java. The patterns are created by applying liquid wax.
  • Shibori - A Japanese dyeing technique that creates a series of patterns on fabric. Similar to batik, it is wrapped, knotted and folded, laced and dipped in color.
  • Marbling - The dyeing technique, which creates a marble-like appearance, is only known to many in connection with paper. The technique can also be used well on fabric.

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You can find inspiration for the “fabric dyeing” project on ours Pinterest Page. Have fun browsing.

First published in 2020, last updated on January 24, 2020.