Fabric dyeing fail

I came home from Quilt Festival inspired to take my quilting to the next level by adding some art elements to my creations.

I’ve had supplies to dye fabric for months and never did anything with it, so I decided give it a try. I prewashed my fabric, boiled water, added dye and salt according to the instructions and added my fabric.


I bundled two fat quarters to create marbled look. I tried to get a gradation look with three others, so I started with one end fully immersed in the dye bath and then slowly added more fabric to the dye bath to create a progressively lighter look. In one of the gradations, I started with one end in blue and the other end in yellow, hoping to get green in the middle.

Once the fabric had set according to the package instructions, I rinsed it in cold water and let it hang dry. I thought it was absolutely beautiful … that is until I washed it in the washing machine with a colorĀ  catcher to keep the excess dye from spreading to the other fabrics. The color catcher came out of the wash a very bold mustard yellow and the fabrics were a very muted version of bold hues I loved on the drying rack.


But I’m not giving up. I made three big mistakes that I’m going to correct the next time I give fabric dyeing a try. I used cheap dye, I didn’t use prepared for dyeing fabric or soda ash, all of which help the color hold fast.

I’ve already been making my wish list on Pro Chemical and Dye and Dharma Trading Company. There are so many goodies I would like to order. At the top of my list is the Gradation Dyeing Kit which has everything you need to make 30 color variations. According to the description, you don’t even need big tubs to make the fat eights, just plastic cups.

If I get really into this, I may need to talk my husband into going with solid flooring in the sewing room for easy clean up. This could get messy.

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