DYEING DISH TOWELS & BEADS

One of my favorite things to wrap gifts in is a dish towel. Further more a flour sac towel. I love those things! I suppose anyone who has received a gift from me already knows that. Since we are upon the season of gift giving, I thought I would prep some for upcoming occasions. I usually pick up the plain flour sac towels at the store, but I have also picked up these cotton striped ones from Ikea. That is what I had around the house this go around.

Here is what you will need:

  • cotton towels
  • soda ash fixer
  • garment dye
  • salt
  • water
  • plastic bin and utensils
  • unfinished wooden beads
  • cotton yarn
  • embroidery needle
soaking towels

Your fabric dye will have instructions on tub dyeing. I suggest following those instructions in case anything is different from what I have done here. I soaked my towels in the soda ash, salt and water. It also is recommended to prewash your towels, or given fabric first.

dye towels

Then I add the dye, which is a powder and mix it in. I used Procion because that is what we already had in the house. I always aim to do the most eco-friendly materials and techniques when possible. I have repeatedly tried to dye fabric with natural, strong dyes and I have not had results that have stood the test time yet. I will continue searching there, but most have faded significantly after a few washes. Since I will be doing batches from here on out until the holidays, I start with the lightest color to the darkest.

beads

Why just stop at dish towels? If you are creating batches of dye, you can easily dress up wooden beads as well. Get some unfinished wooden beads, your cotton yard or thread and string on the needle. 

unfinished beads

When done, make sure you tie both ends of the string with some hefty knots. You can always cut it off later. The beads have a way of working themselves out once bathing in the dye.

beads and fabric

Then plop them into your dye bath! I let mine sit for at least an hour, if not longer. The longest I leave things in a dye bath would be overnight. I usually just let mine sit in the tub in the sink and then give it a gentle stir when I walk by. When you feel good about the desired color you can wash them. If I was just doing a few, I would let air dry. When I am doing a batch, I just dump into the washing machine and wash on cold. No soap.

finished towels

After they washed, I take a few aside. Then in a day or two I do it again, with a different color! I usually pull aside a few finished towels. In this case, yellow. Then add another white one to the next batch along with the other ones that were already dyed in the yellow.

pink towels

I went for a light red and also added another batch of beads. Do the same thing you did for the first batch for the next color you wish.

towels

When you are done, you will begin to have varied colors from these dye baths. 

dye your own beads

Your beads will vary too! Now you have some beautiful, functional things to wrap gifts up with, or give as gifts as they are! This is just the beginning too. You can really go to town with layering in other colors as you go.