How to: Dry Brush Dyeing

OMG! I am so excited about dry brush dyeing. I could hardly wait to blog about it!

drybrushresultsI found this technique in Making Your Mark by Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan. This book also includes a video. I absolutely love watching these women create.

makingyourmarkOf course, there is some prep. The fabric needs to be soda ash soaked and hung to dry before you begin. Once the fabric is dry, you can take a warm iron to the cloth. I didn’t do that though.

You also need to make up some chemical water. I mixed 200 grams of urea, and 13 grams of Ludigol (optional) into 85 ounces of distilled water. I used distilled since our water is hard, but you could use tap water.  The unused chemical water will keep for a long time in a cool place.

Once mixed up, put a small amount of the chemical water into a bowl and then add your fiber reactive dye powder. Except for the black, I added already mixed dye water to this chemical water. I’m trying to use up the dye water I had mixed up last year.

So let’s get started. Lay the pre-treated fabric on your surface. For the demo photos I used my printing board which I covered with fabric before pinning the fabric to it. However, since I only have one of these boards, the other pieces were dyed just taped to the plastic covering my tables. That worked fine except any creases in the plastic showed up on my pieces. For me that’s just more texture.

I’m using cheap brushes from the paint section at Walmart. I bought three  2- and 3-inch brushes. I cut them a bit jaggy so they wouldn’t lay down a perfect line.


I used three dyes: Turquoise, Fuschia, and Lemon Yellow. I started laying the dye down with the 2-inch brush starting with the yellow. The object is to put down very little dye each time and why it’s called dry brushing.  You see on the right side of the piece where I started I have way too much dye. The more I did this, the better I got. It’s like stenciling – less is more.

drybrush1Then the next color was added.

drybrush2And the third color.

drybrush3Then I started going over the colors. This time I used the 3-inch brushes. After a couple passes, I left this piece alone and started working on another piece so this one could dry a bit.

drybrush4I kept adding more color and then added a pass of Raven black dye.

drybrush5I really liked how the black looked so all of the pieces have black except one.

I rolled them up in plastic garbage bags to batch.

drybrushrollingupAnd let them batch for 24 hours.

drybrushbatch I washed them out starting with a cool rinse until the water was clear. Then rinsed them in hot and then soaking in a hot sudsy tub. Love the colors!

soakingbrushedfab I then put them in the washing machine and washed in hot water, rinsed twice, dried, and ironed. And the final results!

drybrushresultsHere are the individual fat quarters.



drybrushangleThe following one I didn’t add black dye. The line at the top is from the plastic. The other lines are from the fabric not being ironed.

drybrushwoblackThis last one is way light. I’m not sure what I did different, but it needs more dye.

drybrushlightOf course, any of these can be over dry brushed. They would make great backgrounds. Anyway, this was so much fun. I will be doing much more of this in my future. Next time I will use the dye powder instead of the dye water so I will get more vibrant colors. Also, will use a different color combination.

It’s so much fun trying something new! Been looking for my word for this year and it may be “experiment.” Well, maybe not. I’d love to hear your word for this year if you’ve decided yet. Or you might be like me, still looking for it!