Thursday 11 December 2014

Tutorial: Dyeing with textile ink

Tutorial:  How to dye fabric using textile ink/paint

Dyeing fabric is a lengthy process requiring equipment reserved for dyeing,  the use of respirators and a place to rinse out dyed fabric.  Many people do not have the space and time for dyeing fabric.  

A quicker way to colour cotton fabric is to use textile inks/paint as a dye.  The material has a slightly harder hand than dyed fabric but is still fairly soft to work with.  


  • White cotton fabric.  Sheeting, second hand sheets or RTD fabric are good choices.
  • 1 plastic bag
  • Textile inks- colours of your choice.  This tutorial uses red, yellow and white.
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Container for water
  • Access to water
  • A place to dry your fabric


  1. Get a the piece of plain white fabric out and........

......the plastic bag

2. Mix the paint and water together until it is the consistency of runny custard. About 1/2 paint to 1/2 water depending on the paint.

3.  Put the material in the plastic bag

4. Pour the paint into the bag

5.  Squish the fabric around in the plastic bag until the paint has all been blended into the fabric.  You could add another colour now if you wished for a more dappled effect.

6.  This is what it should look like when the paint is evenly distributed on the fabric.

7.  Another way to add more colour to the fabric is to put another colour of paint on your hands and then to pick up the fabric.  The fabric in this tutorial had white added to it this way just to add a little more interest to the fabric.

8.  Take the fabric to a sink or tap and gently rinse with water.  If you want a bright colour just rinse a little and squeeze the fabric until it doesn't drip.  If you want a paler colour rinse and squeeze more.  

It is a good idea to experiment a little at this step until you get the desired effect.  Write down how much rinsing you need for each piece of fabric so you can repeat the process next time.  This fabric needed to be quite bright so it was only rinsed lightly.

9. When you are finished with dyeing this colour dispose of the plastic bag.  

10.  Hang the material out to dry.  If the material is hung over rails like this it will show on the fabric and give extra texture to it.  If you don't want this effect hang by the corners on a washing line.  Do not put in the drier.  Iron the fabric once dry to set the ink or paint. 

The finished dyed fabric ready to be used.  It will be pressed one more time before it is used.  


  1. Looks like fun and nice photographs too. I've seen a technique where once you have the paint on the fabric in the bag, you leave it to almost dry in the bag and the paint wicks to the creases. Takes some time, but looks good when it's done.

  2. Thanks. It's lots of fun. I will try that technique this week. It would produce a great texture


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