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Let’s stir the pot, 3 variables affecting Dylon Multi-Purpose dyes

by Allison Spence

Yesterday I looked at the Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes and today I’m moving on to the Dylon Multi-Purpose dyes.

Multi-Purpose Dyes can be used on natural fabrics like cotton, linen, viscose (rayon) wool, silk and non-natural fabrics like nylon and Lycra. It can also be used on plastics, but more about my plastic dyeing later.

The packaging states that the colors are not colorfast so garments should be washed separately. These little packages of dye pack a wallop! Only 5g of dye powder is needed to dye 250g of dry fabric.

Dyeing clothes

I decided to dye a pair of white jeans and a beige T-shirt to see the effect of using the Dylon Multi-Purpose Dyes. I’ve never dyed clothing before, so this was a fun experiment.

Since my t-shirt wasn’t pure white I knew it wouldn’t end up as bright as the white jeans, but I wanted to see what effect that would have on the final color. For this experiment, I used the Dylon Multi-Purpose Dye in Pagoda Red.

White jeans and beige t-Shirt prior to dyeing with Dylon Multi-Purpose Dyes.

White jeans and beige t-shirt before dyeing


The Dylon Multi-Purpose Dyes require heat to set the dye. I think I need to do more research but am guessing these dyes don’t have the soda ash to set the dyes but use the heat as the mordant. A mordant is a substance, that combines with a dye and fixes it in a material.

The items need to be “cooked” in a large container of water and simmered and stirred constantly in order to get a nice even color.

Combine water, heat and Dylon Multi-Purpose Dye powder to dye clothing.

Use heat to set the all purpose dyes

Time & manipulation

As the items are sitting in the simmering bath of water they need to be stirred and manipulated constantly for about 20 minutes. Even the amount of stirring or manipulating affects the finished look of the dyed garment. In total my two garments were over the weight stipulated on the package (more than the recommended 250g) and once dyed, I felt they were a little splotchy. I obviously had not moved them around enough. I just used a wooden skewer to push the fabric into the pot. I should have either used a larger pot or smaller amount of fabric or gotten my hands in and really moved things around a lot in order to get the dye into all the little nooks and crannies of the fabric.

A pair of white jeans and beige t-shirt dyed with Pagoda Red Dylon Multi-Purpose dye.

Jeans and t-shirt dyed with Dylon Multi-Purpose dye

I was thrilled by the color I achieved but a bit disappointed by the blotches on the legs and down one side of the shirt. After a day of looking at the two items, I decided to dye them again. The package states that it will dye 250g of dry fabric. My jeans and shirt were well over that! So, they went into another dye bath and this time I stirred and manipulated the fabrics constantly during the 20 minutes of cooking time. I’m so pleased with the results but I think next time I’ll use a larger pot or dye each piece separately. This would allow for more fabric movement and a more even dye result!

White jeans dyed with Pagoda Red Dylon Multi-Purpose dye.

White jeans dyed red

Fabric choice

As listed above, these dyes work best on natural fabrics. Polyester just doesn’t work. My cotton jeans dyed perfectly, except for the white stitching which is obviously a polyester thread. Fabrics that are a blend of natural fiber with polyester, will achieve a different look than all-natural fabrics. The weight of fabric used will also affect the finished color saturation.

As noted on the packages these dyes are not colorfast. The package instructions recommend that you wash garments dyed with multi-purpose dyes separately and inside out. You can see by my “pink” rag that it was washed with my new red outfit! I did that intentionally and will cut a piece of this fabric off and leave it near my washing machine to remind my “laundry-man” not to wash my new red outfit with his white socks and t-shirts!

This mop up rag show that the colors are not colorfast and picked up the extra dye when I washed my dyed red jeans.

Dye mop up rag

I know this is a quilting and sewing blog, but I’m also a knitter and love to knit socks. They’re mindless knitting for me and I prefer to buy natural yarn and dye it myself. The Cerise Red dye was used on this skein of yarn. I left the yarn in the skein to dye it then wound it into the ball shown. I cooked it in my large pot and got a lovely even dye through the skein. I can’t wait to start knitting with this. I love the color so much that I’m now thinking that instead of socks, it may become a shawl.

I've dyed sock yarn with Dylon Multi-Purpose Dye in Cerise red to a consistent color throughout.

Sock yarn dyed with Dylon Multi-Purpose Dye

I’ve been promising my hubby a new pair of hand-knit socks for a while and we chose the Madonna Blue and Desert Dust colors. I mixed the dyes in small amounts of water and put sections of the skein of yarn into the measuring cups with the dyes. I used my microwave to ‘cook’ the yarn and have this lovely variegated colored sock yarn for my hubby’s new socks.

I've dyed wool sock yarn with Dylon Multi-Purpose Dyes in Desert Dust and Madonna Blue to create a variegated yarn

Variegated hand dyed sock yarn

Some of my research told me that I could dye other things like buttons, corks, feathers, and grasses. I’m always up for a challenge, so I found some buttons and beads and gave it a try. I knew that simmering them in a large pot of water would be a waste, so I mixed the dye in a smaller amount of water and placed them in my “sock dyeing casserole dish” and microwaved! I followed my sock yarn dyeing method and set the microwave on high for 1 minute. Let it sit for 5 minutes and gave it a stir. I repeated cooking and sitting for a total of 5 minutes of heat. And voila – hand-dyed beads!

You can easily see how some beads and buttons took more dye than others when dyed with the Dylon Multi-Purpose dyes.

Hand dyed beads

You can really see which beads and buttons have a polyester content and which are all plastic. The pony beads didn’t color, but the buttons did and look at those other beads! I’m going to be a hit in my brand new outfit.

I can easily imagine re-doing my whole house with great color!

Tomorrow I’ll show you how I’ve added some color to my grandchildren’s clothes with Dylon Permanent Fabric dyes.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: 3 essential tips for fabric dyeing success using Dylon Permanent Fabric Dyes

Go to part 4: Easily add a pop of color to children’s clothes with Dylon dyes


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