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3 essential tips for fabric dyeing success using Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes

3 essential tips for fabric dyeing success using Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes

by Allison Spence

This week I’m sharing my experiences with Dylon fabric dyes. Yesterday I outlined the tools that you’ll need for fabric dying. Today we’re going to experiment with Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes.

As I mentioned yesterday, I like to dye my own fabrics and play with colors and then make quilts with these dyed pieces.

I always do a colorfast test before I start using a fabric, be it a commercially dyed fabric or something I have dyed at home. First I cut a 2″ square from the fabric to be tested. I fill a white coffee cup with very hot tap water and allow the square of fabric to soak for 10 minutes before removing. If the inside of the cup is the same color even through the water, I’m good to go. If the water is colored, I know I need to do something with that fabric or not use it in my project.

Test a small piece of fabric for colorfastness by soaking for a few minutes in hot tap water and check to see if the water changes color.

Test fabric for colorfastness

In the above colorfast test, although there’s a very slight color to the water (in the left-hand cup), it isn’t enough for me to worry about. If there was more color change and I was working with this colored fabric and plain white fabric, I’d probably wash the fabric a few more times and test again before I used it in my project.

There are products available to “catch” the extra dye in the fabrics to prevent the bleeding. These are useful but I prefer to pre-test my fabrics to make very sure that I won’t have any nasty surprises once the project is complete.

These Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes are colorfast. I haven’t had any issues with the dyes running or bleeding.


Fabric choice is key to the finished look

My first tip for using these dyes is all about the fabric. Choose 100% cotton fabrics for the best and brightest colors. All my testing or playing for this week will be done with Northcott’s Colorworks Premium Solids. I’ve only used prepared for dying (PFD) fabrics a few times, but since I always pre-wash my fabrics, I haven’t noticed any differences with my color results when using one or the other.

The Dylon dye package directions state that the 50g package of dye will dye 250g of dry fabric to the color on the package. I weighed it out and 54″ [150cm] of 42″ wide cotton fabric weighs approximately 250g.

The fabric samples in the photo below have all been dyed using the same dye but as you can see, the finish on the different fabrics has affected how the dye penetrates and this affects the end result. Using this method of over dyeing is a great way to add interest to your fabrics, create something new or just make a fabric more appealing.

Use fabric dyes to over dye fabrics to get different and unexpected results.

Over dyed fabrics give different effects

The fabric on the top left is a beige t-shirt knit that I didn’t really care for. Now that I know it will take dye nicely, I’m going to turn the length of fabric into a t-shirt or two. I love how the white prints on the beige fabrics in the middle of the top row really stand out once they’ve been over dyed. The rest of the fabrics in the photo started with printed color patterns and now that they’ve been over dyed, I have lots of new options for using up these left over pieces from previous projects.


The amount of water affects the finished color

The Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye package directions tell us that we need 2 cups [500ml] of water to mix the dye powder and 6 liters (6 quarts) of water in which to dye the fabric! I’m more familiar with the low immersion method of dying fabric and found 6 liters to be a lot of water. So I conducted an experiment. I used the dark green dye and the recommended amount of water to dye 54″ [150cm] of fabric (tub on the left) and then used another package of dark green to dye the same amount of fabric, but in only 2 liters (2 quarts) of water (tub on the right).

Differing the amount of water in which the dye solution is dissolved will affect the color intensity of the finished fabric.

Two test batches dyed in different amounts of water

As you can see below, the fabric on the right which was dyed in the smaller volume of water is a much more intense green than the fabric which was dyed in the larger volume of water. I think I’m partial to the brighter, more intense green as its truer to my desired shade of green.

The dark green Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye when used with different amounts of water creates a darker and lighter shade of green.

Two fabrics dyed with different amounts of water

Since I prefer the more intense colors, going forward, I’m going to continue to use 2 liters (2 quarts) of water or less to dye my fabrics. This is referred to as “low immersion dyeing” where the fabric is not completely submerged in the dye solution.

Understanding how much water to use will help me to change the dye density in my fabrics. Do I want something really light? Then I just need to a small amount of dye powder to the water.

The fat quarters in the photo below show how I’ve used more or less water to get different gradations of colors in my fabrics. Here’s how I did this:

  1. To keep things consistent, I mixed 1 package of dye with 2 cups [500ml] water.
  2. I used 1 cup [250ml] of this dye solution to dye one fat quarter of fabric to the darkest color on the left.
  3. I diluted the remaining dye solution in my measuring cup by adding more water to fill it to the 2 cup mark. I then used 1 cup of this dye solution to dye another fat quarter (second from the left).
  4. I continued with this process of diluting the dye solution to dye the remaining 6 fat quarters of fabric. You can clearly see that using more water and less dye each time resulted in a very nice value (dark to light) gradation. Now to do something with this bundle of lovelies!

Eight gradations of Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye in Tulip Red from light to dark

Eight gradations of Tulip Red dye


Fabric manipulation is fun!

How you handle your fabric can be the most fun part of dying fabric. The dye packages tell us to stir steadily for 15 minutes then occasionally for 45 minutes before rinsing. This method of dying the fabric will result in a solid, even color. But that’s not all you can do!

If I want a solid colored fabric, I can go to my local quilt shop and buy any number of 113 colors available from Northcott’s Colorworks Premium Solids. But when I’m dyeing fabric I love the texture that I can get from playing with fabric manipulation, the amount of dye used and the amount of water and fabrics. Do I want lots of texture? Then I make sure that all my fabric is submerged in the dye and I just leave it alone! Since the dye can’t reach all of the fabric evenly, the dye will be darker in some areas and lighter in others resulting in beautifully textured fabric!

Create texture in hand dyed fabrics by submerging in the Dylon Permanent Fabric dye bath and leaving it alone without stirring.

Texture in hand dyed fabrics

My bundle of eight lovelies were manipulated in their dye containers to get the dye to all areas of the fabric and then left alone. I ignored the instructions to stir occasionally for 45 minutes and just let them sit for a couple of hours. The texture adds another element to some glorious colors achieved with the Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes.

Later this week I’ll show some more fabrics I have dyed and tell you how I achieved these great textures!

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1:10 essential tools for using Dylon fabric dyes

Go to part 3:Let’s stir the pot, 3 variables affecting Dylon Multi-Purpose dyes



Melanie December 18, 2020 - 12:47 am

Thank you for the well written post and excellent quality sample images.

I have a pack of olive green dylon dye. I am ready to dye a cotton jumpsuit and silk shirt. I have dyed with dylon before, however I decided to read more into it before trying again. I am glad I did and find your site. These are helpful tips and simple remindera such as to weigh the fabric, which I will do now, and to experiment with the water quantity and time spent in the bath. I was usually hard pressed to stick to the rules on the package. I have a new excitement for trying to dye these garments and aim to achieve bright, deep colors with slightly less water than usual and more time in the bath. Thank you for sharing your experiments.

Diane H October 1, 2019 - 7:55 pm

Very informative post, thank you. Interesting idea for some fabrics in my stash that could be updated.


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