Overdye · recycle

Dying Fabric with a Washing Machine

I find in the summer I enjoy dying fabric, yarn, clothing, etc. I’ve found a local interior design shop that discounts fabric in a remnant section of their shop. This means that you can find nice fabrics, occasionally in large quantities, at a deep discount.

Two years ago I picked up 6 yards of a cream animal print, 100% linen fabric for $20. I bought it with the intention of overdying the fabric to a new color.

I used both bottles of dye that are shown in the photo for this fabric. The result was more of a purple rather then a blue but the process was quite fun! I took some of this fabric and sewed a Montavilla top by Sew House 7.

I used some of this fabric as well as the background for an embroidery sampler. The pattern is by Cozy Blue and was in Simply Sewing Magazine, Issue 43:

When I dye a large quantity of fabric, I like to use liquid Rit dye and utilize my washing machine. I’ve tried dying in a dedicated stainless steel dye pot on the stove but my results haven’t been my favorite. There’s usually been splotches where the fabric didn’t dye evenly (which may be due to the size of the dye pot that I’m using being on the smaller side).

The following is a tutorial that I use from Rit for washing machine dying:


One tip that I can give it to use more dye (sometimes double the amount) than is called for in this tutorial from Rit for darker, more saturated color tones.

In this next case, I weighed 4 yards of linen and found the weight of the dry fabric to be 2 lbs 15 oz. I used three bottles of dye (shown in the photo) as I wanted to hide the animal print on the right side of the fabric. Rit has color mixing charts on their site as well to help reference mixing complex colors.

Overdying is quite a fun process to be surprised at the color that results in the end. It’s also great to hide stains on kids hand-me-down clothing, refreshing table linens, or for adult clothing that are made of 100% natural fibers.

There are dye options for synthetic fibers but I personally don’t have experience with them yet. I love natural materials for clothing so I tend to lean that way with dying as well.

Edited 6/8/20

I wanted to add a link to the dye color recipes from Rit’s website:


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