Fabric Dye and Fabric Paint – Kits and Types
There are many different ways to dress up plain fabric. Simple tie dye t-shirts kits can be purchased with everything you need to create your own tie dye masterpiece. There are plenty of other types of fabric dye to choose from if you want a solid color or a more opaque look. If you want to create a unique design on your clothing, a fabric paint can be used either freehand or with a stencil. There are also fabric spray paints, fabric markers, and puff paints out there to give you just the look you're going for on your next project.
Select the Right Dye for your Fabric
It's important to consider the fiber content of the fabric or clothing that you are trying to dye. Cotton, linen, and hemp all come from plants, and are called "cellulose fibers". Use a fiber reactive dye with cellulose fibers.
- Jacquard's Procion MX Dye line is a professional grade of fiber reactive dye. These colors are very bright, and do not fade or bleed over time. If using a fiber reactive dye, do not forget to also purchase soda ash which sets the dyes.
- Tie Dye Kits also usually contain a fiber reactive dye, since t-shirts are usually made of cotton fiber. Fiber reactive dyes do not use heat to set the dye. The Jacquard Tie Dye Kit Large contains soda ash but many tie dye kits are now “one-step” and skip the soda ash step – but fabric can still be soaked in soda ash to alter the pH balance to produce brighter, stronger colors.
- Wool, alpaca, mohair, or angora all come from animals, and are "protein fibers". Use an acid dye with protein fibers.
- Jacquard's iDye for Natural Fabrics is specially formulated for 100% natural fibers - both cellulose and protein fibers. It comes in packets that dissolve in the washer with salt to easily dye your natural fibers mess free; used for cotton, silk, rayon, wool, and linen.
- Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye for hand dying in warm water provides permanent vibrant colors that will not wash out; fiber reactive and works well with all natural fibers and polyester cotton but not to be used wih 100% polyester, acrylic, and nylon fabrics.
- Rit makes all purpose dyes – both liquid and powder - that works with both natural and some synthetic fibers, and can even be used to stain wood! You can dye fabric or clothing inside of your washing machine or in a pot on your stove (but the pot is no longer foodsafe after it comes into contact with dye). Also, darker colors of Rit work well for overdyeing garments to cover up stains or make them a different color. Read package instructions for usage and limitations.
- Rit DyeMore Synthetic Dye will dye polyester cotton blends, nylon, acrylic, and acetate fibers – manmade fibers considered synthetic fibers. These types of material are difficult to dye or overdye, and we recommend using an all purpose dye, and washing the item alone or with similar colored items after it has been dyed. These dyes are set with heat using a stovetop method.
- Jacquard's iDye Poly is specially made for synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon. Dye packet dissolves in hot water on the stove top.
Fabric Dyeing Instructions
Here are some helpful links to instructions from the manufacturers of various types of dye mentioned in this tutorial.
Decorate Fabric or Clothing with Fabric Paint
- Jacquard Textile Colors can be used with an airbrush, squirt bottle, or a stamp on natural or synthetic fabrics. They do not harden on fabric, and leave the fabric under the design soft. Colors are intense, semi-opaque, and can be heat set permanently by ironing on the back of the fabric.
- 3D or Puff Paint comes in squeeze bottles, and is a fun and easy activity to do with kids. Used to draw directly on fabric. Scribbles and Tulip each make a large assortment of colors, including neon, glow in the dark, and glitter!
- DecoArt SoSoft Fabric Paint is a very soft, permanent fabric paint that does not require heat setting or a textile medium. After painting or stamping ad design onto a garment, just let the paint dry, and you're done!
- Tulip Fabric Spray Paint can be used for all over coverage, or to fill in a stenciled design.
- Tulip Color Shot Upholstery Spray is a permanent spray-on fabric paint that does not require heat setting. Comes in indoor and outdoor versions.Spray lightly for pastels, and heavier for vibrant coverage; works best on light colored fabric and will not cover up the weave of the upholstery.
- Aunt Martha's Ballpoint Paint Tube is a oil-based, lead-free, non-toxic fabric paint that dries permanently, is machine washable. It is squeezed from a tube with a fine point, stamped, or applied with paint brush to create designs and mimic embroidery.
If you already have acrylic paint, just mix a textile medium with the acrylic paint, and you will be able to use that paint on fabric.
Tips and Tricks to get the most out of your Fabric Dye
- Synthrapol can be added to the dye bath to encourage even absorption with immersion dyeing and to remove excess dye from fabrics.
- Rit Color Remover reduces: color in fabric prior to dyeing with dye, dye stains from whites washed by mistake with colored items, and stains from fruit juice, tea, rust, ketchup and more.
- Retayne is used to keep cotton fabrics from bleeding in the wash.
- Rit Dye Fixative Liquid is used to reduce color bleeding.
Fabric Dye and Fabric Paint Project Inspiration
- Tie Dye sheets for play forts
- Use fabric paint and vegetable stamps on bags and t-shirts
- Use a fabric spraypaint over a stencil and embrace the overspray!
- Ombre Dye a t-shirt by lowering it into a bucket of dye every few minutes
Projects Using Fabric Dye
Kids Crafts: Fabric Painting
Ombre Pillow Case
Glue Resist Tie-Dye
Check out tutorials and get inspiration for dyeing fabric on the Think Crafts blog!
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