Dyeing Over Another Color

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Dye enough fabric and sooner or later you’re going to end up with a mistake that you don’t know what to do with.

I dyed a lot of this fabric, and while I didn’t think it was ugly, I had no idea what I was going to do with it. It didn’t turn out at all how I needed for the intended project and it ended up sitting in a drawer for a couple years.

Plum, light blue, and white hand dyed fabric

Then one day I was running low on dyeable plain white fabric and I thought, why don’t I just dye over that stuff?

With some careful consideration you can dye over another color to change the color of your fabric, called overdyeing.

  • You’ll have the most success by starting with something that is pale or light and dyeing it a darker color. You can’t make something lighter by adding more color.
  • The color is going to layer on top of the already existing color. Dye is transparent so it’s not like repainting the walls of your room which completely coats over the previous color. It’s more like layering colored glass on top of each other. The colors are going to blend.
  • Be very careful when choosing colors. Try to pick colors that go well together. Try sticking with colors that are close on the color wheel. Or you can warm up a color by adding a layer of yellow, or cool it down by adding blue.
  • Be ready for surprises! Try not to have too high of expectations (which is usually a good bet when dyeing anything)!
  • If you really care, try dying a swatch first so you don’t mess up your whole thing.
  • Be willing to experiment! You can even dye over patterned fabric to get some neat effects. Try dyeing over fabric that has a white on white print or something with a black and white pattern!

See how my fabric turned out? It looks like a totally different piece of fabric, doesn’t it? I mixed up a really deep turquoise blue and fully saturated the fabric using the basic tie dye method. The almost black splotches are the areas that were plum on the original piece.

Dark blue mottled hand dyed fabric

This ended up being perfect for making bias tape to bind my galaxy lap blanket!

Galaxy lap blanket
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