How to Dye Muslin Fabric

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Muslin is a cotton or cotton blend woven fabric that easily accepts dye. It's a versatile material that you can use for everything from photography backdrops to dolls, quilt backings and even garments. Because muslin is made from a natural fiber, you can use several different techniques to dye it.

Method 1: With Tea

Dyeing with tea is an inexpensive, non-toxic way to give muslin fabric an aged or vintage look.

Things You'll Need

  • 100 percent cotton muslin, pre-washed
  • Tea bags, black tea
  • Pan large enough to hold the muslin, such as a stockpot
  • Spoon or other utensil for stirring
  • Laundry detergent
  • Washing machine and dryer
  • Iron

Tip

    • The number of tea bags you use depends on the amount of muslin you are dyeing and how dark you want it. Use a larger amount of tea if you have a large piece of muslin or if you want the color darker.
    • If you do not have tea on hand, you can substitute instant or brewed coffee.

Warning

  • If your muslin is a cotton blend, the fabric may not absorb the dye completely. Use a 100 percent cotton muslin for a richer color.

Step 1

Cut the paper tags off the tea bags and discard them.

Step 2

Fill the pan with water and place it on the stove. Heat the water until it is boiling.

Step 3

Drop the tea bags into the boiling water. Remove the saucepan from heat, and allow the tea bags to steep for 5 minutes.

Step 4

Place the muslin into the saucepan with the tea bags, stirring the fabric with a spoon or other utensil to ensure it's completely and evenly submerged in the water.

Step 5

Soak the fabric in the tea for at least an hour. You can let the fabric soak longer if you would like a richer color.

Step 6

Remove the fabric from the tea. To set the tea dye, wash the fabric in the washing machine with hot water and your usual laundry detergent.

Step 7

Dry the fabric on your dryer's hottest setting; then press it with an iron on the cotton setting.

Method 2: The Bucket Method

Use a bucket for garments and other projects to which you want to add color, like baby swaddling blankets. You'll need a large bucket or other container for the dye bath, but you can also use a stovetop method as an alternative.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspapers or plastic covering
  • Rubber gloves
  • Large plastic container
  • Liquid dye
  • 100 percent cotton muslin, pre-washed
  • Spoon or other utensil for stirring

Step 1

Cover the work surface with newspapers or plastic to protect it. Put on rubber gloves.

Step 2

Fill the container with hot water; then pour the liquid dye into the container.

Tip

  • The more dye you use, the richer the color. Test the dye on a swatch of muslin to achieve the exact color you desire.

Step 3

Wet the muslin completely with clear water; then place it in the dye bath. Allow it to soak for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how rich you want the color, stirring occasionally with the spoon or other utensil to ensure the muslin is completely immersed in the dye bath.

Step 4

Use the utensil to remove the muslin from the bath. Rinse the muslin until the water runs clear.

Step 5

Pour the dye bath down the sink.

Tip

  • After you pour the dye bath down the sink, wash out your sink and container with a regular household cleanser.

Step 6

Allow the muslin to dry completely.

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