Reclaiming Old Tablecloths or Bed Sheets: Part Two: Dyeing

Now that our napkins are all sewed and ready, we can start dyeing them! Dyeing is an easy and cheap way to bring life to older or stained garments (many marks and spills can be covered up simply by choosing a darker color). We decided the trendy and chic Royal Blue would perfect for the fall season, but vibrant enough to keep around all year.

MATERIALS:
  • Dye (we used Rit’s Royal Blue)
  • Gloves
  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Lots of hot water
  • Medium sized Tupperware
  • A long stir stick
  • Chosen fabric
  • Fixative (optional!)
Dye Materials

STEP ONE: PREPARING THE FABRIC

Make sure you pre-wash anything you’re about to dye. This way the fabric will be clean of any dust or spots that could block the dye from soaking in. Be careful not to use any fabric that is, or more than, 50% polyester, acrylic, or that has a special finish; the dye will not hold. The lighter the fabric is to begin with, the truer the dye color will be in the end.

STEP TWO: PREP YOUR WORK AREA

Choose wisely where you plan on doing this; splashes and spills will happen! Find an area outside, or put down some towels around where you’re going to work. Wear clothes you’re perfectly happy with being ruined. You can use a sink, or a bucket – whatever will hold three gallons of water. A big sink that can fit a 5 gallon bucket while still having easy access to a faucet with very hot water is ideal. Also check to make sure that your stirrer is long enough to reach to the bottom of the bucket without having to submerge your hands and dye your skin.

STEP THREE: DYEING

Fill your bucket or sink with enough hot, steaming water that all of the garments you are dyeing will float. We filled it with about 3 gallons to fit 9 linen napkins and one large t-shirt. Dunk your to-be-dyed pieces in the hot water, give them a quick wring and put them off to the side. Also fill the large Tupperware with the hot water, two cups worth, and pour in the powdered dye. Once the dye looks mixed, pour it into the bucket and stir. Continue stirring as you add your fabric, un-scrunched, into the mixture. Stir constantly for 10 to 30 minutes until you think the color is dark enough.

Dyeing Fabric

Dyeing Fabric

STEP FOUR: DRYING & AFTER CARE

You can either pop it in the dryer or let it air dry. To maximize the long life of your dye, try using a fixative afterwards as well. Make sure to wash in cold water from now, with only mild detergents and no bleach.

Dyed Napkins Dyed Napkins

Let us know how your own dyeing projects go! We’d love to see what creations you can come up with too.

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