How to Add Color to Fabric


Fabrics can be colored by either dyeing or painting them. Many types of dyes and paints are available for home use. By using these products you can have the exact color or look that you want in your home. Curtains, tablecloths and bedding are just some of the fabrics you can personalize.

Things You'll Need

  • Washing machine
  • Dye
  • Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Hot water
  • Kettle
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes (optional)

Dyeing Fabric

  • Prewash your fabric to remove any dirt and make sure it has shrunk as much as it will shrink. Do not use a fabric softener. This will make the dye less likely to penetrate the fabric.

  • Turn your washing machine on and let it fill with hot water. It is easiest to dye fabric in a top-load washing machine, but you can use a dye like Dylon Machine Dye in a front-loading machine.

  • Boil some water and dissolve the powder in two cups of water. For large items like sheets or curtains you will need four packages of a dye like Rit.

  • Add the dissolved dye to the water in the washing machine. Turn the machine on and let it agitate for moment so the dye circulates.

  • Wet the fabric in hot water outside the machine then add it to the dye in the machine. Make sure the fabric isn't knotted or tangled. It will also need room to move in the dye so don't dye many large items at once.

  • Turn the washing machine on. It will need to agitate for at least 30 minutes. If you don't have a cycle that lasts 30 minutes, rest the machine before it starts to drain. Make sure you catch it before it drains so you don't lose all your dye. Set a timer to remind yourself.

  • Allow the fabric to rinse as usual in cold water. Rinse again until the water is clear and all the dye is gone.

  • Wash the fabric using a mild detergent and warm water, then rinse it with cold water.

  • Hang it to dry or use the dryer.

  • Run your washing machine through a full cycle with no clothes in it to clean out any remaining dye. Use one cup of bleach, detergent and hot water to get it clean.

  • Clean the lint trap in your dryer.

Painting Fabric

  • Pre-wash your fabric and dry it thoroughly in order to remove any dirt.

  • Place the fabric on a work table. It is a good idea to work outside in case the paint spills. You can also spread newspaper or a tarp around the floor and surfaces to protect them.

  • Paint the fabric as desired. Spray paints, pens, paintbrushes and other dyes are available for fabrics. You can freehand the project or use stencils. Also consider using items like sponges to give different texture to your project. Work in a well-ventilated area so you don't inhale a lot of paint fumes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many types of dyes and paints are available. Make sure you are using products that are suitable to your fabric.
  • Natural fabrics like cotton, silk, wool and hemp dye easily. Look for natural fibers or natural fiber blends.
  • Always follow the manufacture's instructions when using dye or paint. Some dyes needs extra ingredients like salt or ash added to help the dye adhere.

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