This is my method for dyeing cotton lace yardage in plastic lunch bags. It’s relatively mess and hassle free, and you can dye several colors at once.
Please note, this is not a tutorial for RIT dye. If you use RIT, expect the lace to bleed in the wash as it does not bond with the fabric. Using fiber reactive dyes will make the lace 100% washfast, and colors will not fade even after many washings. Try it! You’ll never use RIT again.
Here are the supplies you need to dye 6 bags
- 100% cotton lace
- Fiber reactive procion dye (I used turquoise, magenta and yellow)
- Soda ash
- Plastic bags
- Measuring tools
First, pre-soak your lace in warm water with some detergent. Dawn is great! This allows the dye to penetrate the fibers more evenly.
Now, measure out one cup of water in each baggie. It helps to contain each bag in a measuring cup or bowl to prevent spills.
To each bag of water, add the dye. I used the following amounts for a rainbow of colors:
- 1/2 tsp magenta
- 1/4 tsp magenta + 1/2 tsp yellow
- 1/2 tsp yellow
- 1/2 tsp yellow + 1/4 tsp turquoise
- 1/2 tsp turquoise
- 1/4 tsp magenta + 1/4 tsp turquoise
Be sure the dye is fully dissolved. When it is fully dissolved, add the wet lace to each bag. I dyed 3 yards at a time. Be sure there is enough dye mixture to cover the lace. Allow the lace to rest in the dye mixture for about half an hour to allow the dye molecules to disperse.
Next, mix up your soda ash solution. Add 6 Tablespoons of soda ash to one cup of hot water. Divide this mixture evenly between the 6 bags. Mix well and allow to sit in a warm room for at least an hour or two to give the dye time to react.
Once the dye and soda ash have rested, it’s time to rinse the lace! Start with a cold water rinse to stop the dye reaction. Rinse until the water is mostly clear of dye. Once you have finished the cold rinse, it’s time to soak the lace in hot water. Fill a bucket with water as hot as the tap will get and add a few drops of dawn detergent. Add all the lace samples to the bucket. You don’t have to worry about the colors mixing together anymore. Allow the lace to soak for 30 minutes or so and then change the water. You may need to repeat the soak process several times until the water is clear. I do not recommend washing lace yardage in the washing machine. Once the water is clear, hang the samples to dry and then iron them.
They are now ready to be used in your project!