Rust Dyeing

After seeing some lovely rust-colored fabric I finally tried my hand at rust dyeing.


I used this old rusty chain that has been sitting outside the garage for a long time. Every time I have walked by it I thought about rust dyeing.


So let’s get started. Here is what you need: fabric, dyeing container, rusted items, plastic garbage bag, and a spray bottle with 50/50 vinegar and water solution. You will also need a bucket with a salt solution that I’ll talk about later.


I crumpled up my piece of cotton fabric and sprayed it with the vinegar and water solution. You don’t have to crumple up the fabric. I thought that might give it more texture.


Next I placed the chain on top of the fabric.


Then I sprayed it again making sure the chain was also wet.


The fabric is then covered in plastic. I put mine in a trash bag and left it alone for about 30 hours. I checked on it after 24 hours and thought it needed more time. This is up to you. The longer the object sits on the fabric, the darker the fabric will be.

Here is what it looked like after 30 hours.


Here is what it looked like after I removed the chain.


The fabric was then put into salt water solution (1/4 cup of salt to three to four gallons of water) to neutralize it.  After the salt was dissolved, I swirled the fabric in the solution.  I left it in the salt solution for a few minutes before putting it in the washer and then dryer.

Here is the finished fabric.


And a close up.


So how do I feel about rust dyeing? I’m not real excited about it. If I came across something like an old grate – something with character – I’d probably try it again. Maybe I needed to lay down the chain better. But it all comes down to time. With the busy gardening season I have to really focus on art I love and get results I love. This rust dyeing doesn’t yet fit in that category.

However, if you would like to see some lovely rust dyeing check out my friend Kathy’s blog post. I saw those pieces in person last summer and they were absolutely gorgeous and it got me to thinking about trying this.

Have you tried rust dyeing? What do you think about it? Any tips?