The perfect gradient fabric is hard to find, so knowing how to make your own is a useful skill to have! Here, I’ll show you one way to dye a two-toned gradient into fabric using red and blue iDye Poly!
- Fabric Dye (use the correct dye for your type of fabric)
- Large stainless steel pot
- Mixing spoon
- Dish soap or laudry detergent
Step 1: Choose fabric and dye
Any kind of fabric can be dyed, but its important to choose a dye that works with your choice of fabric. If your fabric is a natural fiber, like cotton, you’ll need a dye that works on natural fibers. If you’re fabric is synthetic, like polyester, you’ll need a synthetic dye. For my project, I’m using a polyester chiffon, so I’m using iDye Poly for my dye since its made for synthetic materials.
Be sure to read any directions that are included with your dye! It will give you important information on how to use the dye as effectively as possible. Some fabric dyes, namely natural fiber dyes, will require you use salt or vinegar with your dye. IDye Poly, however, doesn’t require anything extra.
Side Note: Chiffon fabric is sheer, so the color will show up lighter on my fabric than it would on others.
Step 2: Prep your fabric
Before you dye, make sure your fabric is clean! Its a good idea to wash your fabric before dying if you want the best results. Additionally, make sure your fabric is wet before starting the dyeing process!
Step 3: Prep your dye bath
For the brightest results, you’ll need hot water. For synthetic fabrics especially, you’ll need to boil your water to get the brightest color you can get. Fill your stainless steel pot with enough water for your fabric to flow freely and start heating it on the stove.
Once your water starts to boil, add in your dye and any other additives it requires. IDye Poly comes with a powder color packet and a “color intensifier” liquid. If you’re using a powder dye like I am, make sure you mix your dye bath thoroughly to ensure all the powder gets mixed in.
For a two toned gradient, start with the lighter color. I’m using red and blue, so I’m starting with the red dye.
Step 4: Dip Dye
To achieve a gradient, you’ll need to carefully dip your fabric into the dye bath. The less time your fabric spends submerged, the less color you’ll get, so to get the subtle transition from light to dark, you’ll need to constantly be dipping the fabric over and over again, concentrating the most time into the bottom of the fabric.
If you want to see how your gradient is taking to the fabric, rinse your fabric with cool water and wash it out with soap. Laundry detergent or dish soap works well for this.
Washing the fabric out will let you see how your gradient is transitioning. You can’t tell exactly how it will look just by how it appears in the dye bath. The soap and clean water will wash away the excess dye, leaving you with only the dyed fabric.
As you can see above, the gradient is much more noticeable after washing the fabric out.
If you don’t think the gradient is dark or bright enough, repeat the dip dying process until it is!
Remember, the longer the fabric stays in the dye bath, the darker/brighter the color will be, so you’ll need to constantly be moving your fabric if you want to avoid a harsh line.
Once you are happy with the color of your fabric, wash the excess dye out completely before continuing on.
Step 5: Repeat with second color
Since I’m doing a two-toned gradient, I’ll need to repeat the dyeing process with the second color.
Following the same method as before, prepare your dye bath, make sure your fabric is wet, and dip dye.
Be aware of how your fabric dyes will interact with each other. Since I’m using red and blue, I’m going to get some purple tones in my gradient because thats what red and blue does when it mixes.
Same as before, to get a smooth transition of color, be sure to constantly move your fabric and concentrate the dye more at the bottom than at the top.
Rinse and wash to reveal the true color…
And repeat until you’re happy with how it looks!
Once you are happy with the color, wash it out with cool water and soap. Be sure to rinse until the water runs clear.
Step 6: Let dry
Once you are happy with the color, let your fabric dry. You can use a dryer to speed up the process, but if you’re using a delicate fabric like I am, you may want to let the fabric air dry instead to prevent damage. I placed my fabric out on some towels on my counter and let it dry on its own. As you can see, I have a nice, smooth gradient from pink to light purple. The reason I have a pink to light purple gradient instead of red to blue is because I was using a sheer fabric, which will naturally be lighter, and didn’t leave the fabric in the blue dye bath long enough to overpower the red completely. If I had been using a non-sheer fabric, I would have had a darker red and purple than you see below.