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 spray paints, dye 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. 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.
- If using a fiber reactive dye, do not forget to also purchase soda ash, which you use when you presoak your fabric and acts as a mord
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 both cellulose and protien fibers. It comes in packets that dissolve in the washer with salt to easily dye your natural fibers mess free.
- You can also use Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye, though the color will not be as rich as with a plant fiber.
Polyester, nylon, elastic, rayon, and tencel are man-made and are 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.
- Rit makes an all purpose dye that works with both natural and 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.
- Jacquard's iDye Poly is specially made for synthetic fabrics.
Decorate Fabric or Clothing with Fabric Paint
- Jacquard Textile Colors can be used to airbrush on natural or synthetic fabrics. They do not harden on fabric, and leave the fabric under the design soft and comfortable to wear.
- Draw a design directly onto a garment with 3D or Puff Paint. This type of paint comes in squeeze bottles, and is a fun and easy activity to do with kids. Scribbles and Tulip each make a large assortment of colors, including neon, glow in the dark, and glitter!
- Plaid Simply Screen Print Paint comes in lots of colors, and is easy to use and clean up. After you screen print a design, use an iron to heat set the paint, and the design will be permanent. If you make a mess, simply wipe it up with soap and water!
- Paint, stencil, or stamp a design onto a garment with DecoArt SoSoft Fabric Paint. After you have made your design, just let the paint dry, and you're done!
- 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.
- Tulip Fabric Spray Paint can be used for all over coverage, or to fill in a stenciled design. Fun and easy to use!
- FabricMate Dye Markers contain permanent fabric dye. You can draw directly onto fabric and simply let it dry for 24 hours to set the dye.
Fabric Dyeing Instructions
Here are some helpful links to instructions from the manufacturers of various types of dye mentioned in this tutorial.
Tips and Tricks to get the most out of your Fabric Dye
While dyeing, add Synthrapol to the dye bath to encourage dye to be evenly absorbed if you are immersion dyeing. Synthrapol can also be used to remove excess dye from fabrics. Try using Retayne to keep cotton fabrics from bleeding in the wash.
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
Check out tutorials and get inspiration for dyeing fabric on the Think Crafts blog!
About the Author
Joselyn Dykgraaf is the marketing assistant at CreateForLess. She loves knitting, refurbishing furniture, and home decor. She is currently learning how to sew and crochet. Find her on the CreateForLess Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr!
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