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10 essential tools for using Dylon fabric dyes

10 essential tools for using Dylon fabric dyes

by Allison Spence

I recently received some packages of Dylon Multi-Purpose and Permanent Fabric Dyes. As a quilter, I do a lot of fabric dyeing using Procion dyes. I was curious how these Dylon dyes would compare and if I would continue to use them over my other dyes. After trying them out, I can answer that with a resounding “YES”!

Samples of packages of Dylon Multi-Purpose and Permanent Fabric Dyes.

Dylon Multi-Purpose and Permanent Fabric Dyes

This week I’m sharing my dyeing experiences with you using the Dylon Multi-Purpose Dye and the Permanent Fabric Dye. Today is an overview of the two dyes and their purposes and expected outcomes. In the next few days I’ll share with you how I dyed my fabrics and some of the projects in which I’ve used these dyed fabrics and materials.

I’ve been dying fabric for over 20 years and clearly remember my first introduction to hand dyeing in a quick class at a Creative Stitches Festival in Calgary, many years ago. We were given some small pieces of fabric (fat sixteenths which are 11″ x 9″), small plastic glasses and a selection of pre-mixed dyes. I was immediately drawn to the colors and how easy it is to get special, one of a kind effects in my fabric. Now I almost exclusively use hand dyed fabrics in my sewing and quilting projects.

A quilt sample made using a variety of hand dyed fabrics.

Hand dyed fabrics in a quilt

To dye fabric, all you need are some dedicated tools and some time. By dedicated tools I mean containers and tools that you’ll NOT USE again for food!!!!! These dyes are chemicals and are not to be eaten!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Dylon dye powders
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • plastic ziploc bags
  • plastic tubs or metal pots
  • stirring utensils
  • rubber gloves
  • apron to keep you clean
  • scrap fabrics or paper towels for clean up
  • salt

A bucket, gloves, paper towels and measuring tools are all needed to dye fabric with Dylon dyes.

Dedicated tools for dyeing fabric

You’re probably wondering why salt is on the list. Salt helps the fabric absorb more dye. Table salt seems to be good enough, although I do keep a supply of pickling or kosher salt in my dye space and I use that when dyeing my fabrics. When using dyes, a chemical is needed to set the dye in the fabric. When using other types of dyes you have to add this separately. Dylon has already added this chemical – soda ash – to the dye powder so this saved me a step. I also found the Dylon dye powders dissolved quickly and easily.

It doesn’t take a lot of dye powder to dye fabric, so the packages are small. As a result, I found the instructions also very small!!!! I eventually resorted to taking a picture with my phone and enlarging the image so I could read, but you could also use a magnifying glass.

You’ll also need lots of materials to dye!

I have a space in my basement that I use for dyeing fabric and I don’t care if I get drips of dye on the floor or in and around the sink. My family knows to leave that space alone.

I couldn’t find any instructions on the Dylon packages telling me to use a dust mask when mixing the dyes, but I pulled one on anyway just to be on the safe side. Dust masks or respirators are necessary when using other brands of dye powders. I suspect that since the dye powder is “ready to use”, it has been mixed with the dye fixative and makes the power a bit heavier and less likely to float around in the air.

The main difference I could find between the two Dylon products is that the Dylon Multi-Purpose Dyes use heat to set the dyes and the Permanent Fabric Dye does not require any heat other than warm tap water. To use the Dylon Multi-Purpose Dyes, you need a very large pot filled with water in which you submerge the items to be dyed and then you simmer for 20 minutes. Since you don’t need to simmer the Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes, they’re easier to use, especially with children.

Squirt bottles can be used to paint fabric with Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes for an easy and fun project.

Painting fabric with fabric dyes

A few weeks ago I spent a few days with my 4 year old granddaughter while we waited for her baby brother to arrive! I had planned to make some over sized receiving blankets and picked up some flannel to sew these up. We used these and had a great day painting fabric. We painted receiving blankets and onesies to match and then she painted some t-shirts and fabric to make a couple of dresses. We called it painting fabric rather than “dyeing”. She gave me such a horrified look when I asked her if she wanted to dye some fabric. “Are you going to kill it?” she asked. Later this week I’ll show you our finished projects!

For this week, I’m keeping my dye projects pretty simple. I just want to play and experiment with the dyes based on my previous knowledge with fabric dyes.

Tomorrow I’m going to look at the Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes and share some of my dyeing efforts with you.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: 3 essential tips for fabric dyeing success using Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes


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