Wednesday, December 14, 2005

B.A.R.K. Production Journal: Dying Fabric


I will be dying terry cloth for my cat puppet, this is an involved but relatively simple process. The best thing about dying your own fabric, is there is an infinite number of color possibilities, and you are not limited by what is commercially available. Before we get started you must cut some fabric to dye - It is important to over estimate when deciding how much fabric to use, because matching colors exactly is very difficult. Before you dye your fabric, follow these steps with a swatch to insure the right color and intensity. For this puppet building project I'm using Liquid Rit Dye. I have used the powdered Rit dye in the past but I prefer the liquid. You should also wear rubber gloves during this process so you don't dye your hands.

1) Run a dye bath using hot water. The hotter the water the quicker the fabric dyes, and the more intense the color. Please do not use your sink or bath tub - the dye will color the porcelain. Use a large Rubbermaid tub, plastic bucket, or utility sink (the deep sinks that people usually have in their garage).

2) Following the directions on the bottle pour the proper amount of dye into the bath. If it's not exact don't worry, this is not rocket science. After you do this enough times you get a feel for how much dye is necessary.

3) Thoroughly soak your fabric in warm water and wring out.

4) Place your fabric in the dye bath, and mix it around with your hands to ensure even distribution of the color.

5) After a short period of time remove the fabric, wring it out and check the color. If a more intense color is desired put it back in the bath. Continue this process until you reach the desired color. Please note that in a hot dye bath Antron fleece (or Muppet fleece) can dye in less than 30 seconds.

6) Once the fabric is the right color, soak it in cold water to set the dye.

7) Wring the fabric out and line dry. If you do not wring the fabric our thoroughly before line drying the reaming dye and water will run to bottom ends and give you an uneven dye. As an alternative to line drying you may also put the fabric in the dryer. Make sure the dryer is set to air only or low heat.

For more information check out the fabric dyeing tips from

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