Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guest Post: Fabric Dyeing with your Washing Machine

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this post, free of charge, from Rheney Williams,  for blog posting purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. 

christmas reindeer scary

Ah the holidays- time to start decorating...

I know, I know....

Today I 've got a great post from Rheney about dying fabric to the color you need.
It's old fashioned, but it still works great and can save you money, when you need fabric in a different color at the last minute (aka Christmas pageant costume, classroom decor, hubby signed you up to host the office Christmas party  (yes, I know you may need drop clothes to pick up the body after that last one-LOL)....

dyed bolts

I have always been extremely fascinated with color: I love skeins of yarn, bolts of fabric, bowls of icing, canisters of paint and boxes of crayons. But perhaps more importantly, I love creating my own color and mixing my own combinations.

At the same time, I love ridding things of unwanted colors, or stains, almost as much as I love infusing color. This got me thinking: Can I use my main appliance for removing stains – my washing machine – in an entirely new way and actually impart colors instead?

Fortunately, the answer is a resounding "yes!" Although artisans have been using large barrels, drums and tubs to dye fabric for centuries, modern day washing machines make it possible for anyone to try their hand at this time-honored craft with just a fraction of the time and effort.

The procedure varies depending on whether you use a top-loading or front-loading washer; today I'll share the directions for dyeing fabric using a top loader.And although old or stained t-shirts, sheets or curtains are great candidates for a washing machine dye job, I'll show you the process using a cut of basic white 100% cotton muslin fabric so you can see the dramatic transformation.

Initially, always be sure to read the instructions accompanying whatever brand of dye you select, but in general, the directions are fairly standard. Start by determining the appropriate amount of dye based on the particular items you are using. Pre-soak the fabric in hot water, wring it out and set it aside while you prepare the rest of the materials.

Fill your washer with the hottest water possible; add enough water so that whatever you are dyeing has enough room to move around freely in the tub. I used a bottle of liquid dye (the directions are different if you use a powder dye from a box); shake it well before adding to the water.

Wearing protective rubber or plastic gloves, carefully add the liquid dye to the water. Gently agitate the washer (I simply twisted the agitator around) until the dye has changed the color of the water.

fabric in dyed water

For 100% cotton fabric like mine, dissolve 1 cup of salt in 4 cups of hot water and add that to the bath before draping the fabric around the drum. Almost immediately, you can see how the fabric takes on its new shade!

Allow the fabric to soak for 20 minutes in the hot water to assist the dye in really seeping in. Unwind the fabric from around the washing machine drum and shake it out slightly before dropping it back into the tub. This will prevent the color from dyeing the fabric unevenly. This is how the fabric looks after 20 minutes of soaking and being redistributed in the tub. Notice how much darker the fabric already is.

grey dyed fabric

After allowing the washer to complete a full cycle, including a cold rinse, wash the newly dyed fabric in warm water using a mild detergent to complete the process. Once again, rinse out the fabric with cold water. Hang dry or run it through your dryer and iron out the wrinkles once the fabric is completely dry.

And all you need to do now is step back and observe your artistry! 

Remember the dramatic transformation I promised? Check it out:

After I dyed the first batch of white fabric gray, I repeated the process to create a complimentary aqua blue bolt. And now I have tons of options in terms of home décor projects using this newly colorful fabric: You might decide to cut the fabric into strips and make a DIY rug; perhaps you'd prefer an armful of bright throw pillows; maybe you'd like to turn the fabric into custom drapes. 

The point is that it's completely up to you and your imagination.

Once you are finished with your fabric dyeing, clean the inside of your washing machine by filling the washer to its highest level using hot water. Add 1-2 cups of liquid detergent and 2 cups of chlorine bleach to water, drop in a few old towels and run a full cycle. Don't forget about the internal dispenser: Add a splash of the bleach to this dispenser to ensure rinsing out any dye that may have inadvertently entered during the dye job.

And now you too know how to infuse the colors of your choice into a basic white cotton fabric:

finished bolts

About the Author:

Rheney Williams is a crafter and DIYer in Charleston, S.C., who writes about home appliances for Home Depot. Rheney's fabric-dying technique using a washer is one of many ways she finds to use otherwise ordinary appliances in creative ways. Home Depot's washing machine selection, including top- and side-load models mentioned by Rheney, can be found on the company's website.

1 comment:

  1. I can remember doing this with my mom when I was a kid. At the moment I don't remember why we were dyeing clothes.


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