How To Dye Synthetic Fabrics

Dyeing synthetic fabrics is a lot easier than I thought it would be. I am working with a blend of cotton and polyester which will result in subtle shades.

I’ve wanted to dye fabric for a long time and had the opportunity this week. I have two table coverings that are around 50% cotton and 50% polyester. There are from my mother’s best friend who was an antique dealer.  The colors for these table coverings are pale yellow and pale green. I know I’ll never use them for entertaining and I knew I would most likely never wear those colors. Perfect opportunity to dye them.

I used RIT DyeMore that is dye made specifically for synthetic fabrics. I followed the how-to exactly so there’s no need for me to go through a step-by-step. There’s also a YouTube video that goes over the instructions and has helpful comments in the comment section.

However, I did learn a lot for my next time around and I think you’ll find these tips useful for dyeing synthetic fabrics.

The color I used is Midnight Navy.  Since my fabric is a blend the color will not be a supersaturated bold/bright color. On the RIT website they show you different fabrics and how the dye turns out, unfortunately, they don’t tell you what the fabric content is for their samples. – CLICK to enlarge any photo – RIT Dye More for synthetic fabricsSet-Up

  1. For stovetop dyeing, I would recommend three pots. One to hold the dye project, one for the color keeper, and one to transfer the fabric from pot to pot to sink.
  2. The pots I used are aluminum and worked fine.
  3. Once you use dye in the aluminum pot you cannot use it for food use. A RIT Admin on the YT page said using aluminum pots was fine for synthetic fabrics.
  4. You’ll notice that my range hood is very low, this makes stirring and transferring the fabric a bit difficult.
  5. Make note of your burner size. The shorter pot I had to use two burners and it took longer to heat up.
  6. I also used hot tap water which reduced the time for the pots to come to a simmer.
  7. I used a thermometer to test the water. It hovered around 190°. I don’t think I ever got to 200°.
  8. My first project was the yellow table cloth which weighed in at just under a pound (54″x80″). The green fabric is almost 2 pounds (65″x80″).
  9. I did this on a rare cool summer day.

Dyeing

  1. I used two containers of dye for one project.
  2. I kept the yellow table cloth in for over an hour.
  3. Stirred constantly for the first 10 minutes. With the size of my project, I’m glad I used the taller pot and the color is very consistent because the fabric had room to move.
  4. My tongs were a bit short as was my spoon. For deeper pots, I’d use longer utensils.

RIT Dye MoreRinsing

  1. It’s not required by I did use the Color Style Dye Fixative. This fixative will keep the color on the fabric and can be used on natural or synthetic fabrics. I think it’s worth the extra step.
  2. If using the fixative on synthetics you will need to use the stovetop method.
  3. Dyeing takes A LOT of water. The rinsing seemed to go on forever. With every dump of water, I thought of the Australian Outback. Crafter’s Guilt.
  4. I used the smaller black pot to rinse which seemed to do fine.

Clean Up

  1. At first, I used an old sheet as a drop cloth but when the dye would splash on the floor it would soak through and on to the floor. I placed old picnic table cloths down instead. But, be careful not to get it near a burner or hot pot, it will melt. I think next time I’d use old towels under a sheet or the picnic table cloths.
  2. I did end up with dye on the countertops and wood floors.
  3. I was not able to move the pots to the sink (too heavy).
  4. I used an old two-cup measuring vessel to transfer the dye water to the black pot and then dumped the dye water in the sink. Repeated until the big pots were at a manageable weight.
  5. Rinsed the sink out every time I dumped dye water in it. I didn’t want to have a blue sink!

Tools for RIT Dye process

Supply List (beyond what RIT has)

  1. 3 pots sized according to fabric size and/or poundage
  2. Long tongs and spoon
  3. Apron ( I used a raincoat)
  4. Thermometer
  5. Heavy-duty rubber gloves
  6. Paper towels or wipes
  7. Potholders
  8. Scale
  9. Large measuring cup or bowl to transfer water from one pot to another (if you can’t lift the pot and dump into the sink yourself).

I am definitely going to do the green cloth and use the graphite dye. This will result in a soft to medium gray. I won’t be able to get a dark black which is okay. I would like to see if anyone else wants to dye as well.  I’ll feel less guilty about the water usage!

Have you tried dyeing fabrics of any kind? It’s labor-intensive but I think worth it in the end. Now on to sewing something beautiful with my new fabric!

Best wishes and warmest regards!

Top Image by jekar1588 of Pixabay

5 comments

    • Thank you! I’m quite surprised/happy with my first dye job! Also, I didn’t know you had a blog! If you ever need any help with set up, let me know! I’m building a friends site currently, and if you ever need help I’m a Zoom a way!

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  1. Your blue fabric (formerly yellow) turned out lovely! I’ve done a lot of dyeing but with Procion dyes, and a bit of natural dyeing. Hope to return to it soon.

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    • Thank you! I think I am really going to like dyeing fabric! I was going to take a Procion dye class in my area and I was the only one who signed up! Needless to say it was cancelled. I was very bummed. It’s on my list, whenever we get back to ‘normal’.

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