Monday, May 9, 2011

Easy Technique for Dying Values

Samples of 8 Values of One Color

Creating your own hand-dyed fabric is one of the joys of working with fabric. Mixing the dye solutions for a full strength dye solution isn't difficult but sometimes it can be confusing when you beging to think in terms of a range of values for a single color.

With that in mind I want to share a process for dying 8 values of a single color.

Equipment and Supplies:

1 Large container that will hold double the amount of dye solution to dye the size cut of fabric you are working with - in these directions we will dye 1 yard in each cup

8 cups that will hold the amount of dye solution to dye 1 yard of fabric

Dye Solution - Mix twice the amount of full strength dye solution needed to dye 1 yard of fabric or the size cut you have choosen

For this article I am not going to discuss an exact dye application. Use whatever technique you like best.


1. Mix the amount of dye needed to dye 2 yards of fabric a dark value. Put this amount into your large container.

2. Pour half of the solution from your large container into Cup 1. This will be used to dye your first yard of fabric.

3. Now add enough plain water back into the large container to bring the amount back to the original amount.

4. Pour half of this new diluted solution into Cup 2. This will be used to dye your second yard.

5. Again, add enough plain water back to the solution in your large containe to bring the volumn back to the original amount.

6. Continue this process until you have dye solution in all 8 cups with each successive cup being more and more diluted.

Once you have 8 cups of dye solution you are ready to dye your fabric. There will still be solution in the large container but it can be discarded or you can dye another piece of fabric that will be the same value as Cup 8.

This card shows samples dyed from a blue but I chose to dye only cups 2,4,6 and 8.

This card has samples of all 8 values as well as samples of two fabrics which were dyed and then overdyed in a second color.

I am not a technical dye artist. I do keep notes but it is seldom my desire to replicate a color precisely. This process suits my way of working and I encourage you to try it out.

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  1. Thank you Terry,
    I've been reading about dyeing and have received cotton fabric samples from Testfabrics.
    I'm going to give this more thought before I dive in and when I do, I'll use this method.

  2. I believe you will be instantly in love with the process. I plan to talk about how I dye next. It's by no means the only way but it's the one I love.

  3. Ohhh thanks Terry for article! I'm printing it out and putting it right in my dyeing binder. So helpful!

  4. Terry, Thanks. I am definitely going to try this. We are supposed to be in the 90s for the next couple of days. Perfect fabric dyeing weather : ).