There are many ways to add color to fabric, and one of the easiest methods – Sharpie dyeing – uses everyday supplies. And you don’t need a large space or dedicated wet studio to do it. Just protect your hands and work surface as you would for any project where you use inks or paints. You have lots of control over where the color is placed, and you control how much the colors shift and blend depending of the application method you choose. Cleaning up your tools is easy – just use the same isopropyl alcohol you used in the dyeing process! Achieve interesting tie-dye and watercolor effects to use in your next quilting or sewing project. Let’s learn how to dye fabric with Sharpies!
How should I prepare my fabric for dyeing fabrics with Sharpies?
The easiest way to prepare fabric for Sharpie dyeing is to purchase fabric that is already prepared for dyeing. It’s often called PFD and is available in many quilt shops and online. If you are using fabric from your stash, you can soak the fabric in soda ash, following package directions. Soda ash scrubs sizing and other chemicals use in the milling process. It also removes any fabric softeners or skin oils that may be on fabric you pull from a shelf.
Can I get more subdued colors with dyeing fabrics with Sharpies?
Sharpies are available in so many colors, including pastels! For a more color washed look with any Sharpie, applying more alcohol will dilute the ink’s intensity.
Can I use metallic markers for Sharpie dyeing?
Yes, you can use metallic Sharpies in your fabric dyeing project, but the colors will not run. The design you draw with a metallic Sharpie will maintain its definition. Than can be useful if you want part of your project to have a tie-dyed look but also want to include writing or a defined object.
Is the color in Sharpie dyed fabric permanent?
Untreated, the color in Sharpie dyed fabric can fade, especially with repeated washing and exposure to sunlight. After drying, you can heat set the color by pressing with a hot iron for 5 minutes, tumbling in the dryer on the highest temperature setting for 15 minutes or treating with a product called Retayne. Retayne binds the dye molecules to the fibers. It is available in many quilt shops and online. It takes just a little bit to do the job, so one bottle will last for several projects. Professional hand dyers use Retayne to set the colors on their fabrics.
I had a fun afternoon learning how to dye fabric with Sharpies! Here are some of the results:
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