How to: Dyeing cord

I’ve been loving all of the bowls and coasters I’ve been making. Unlike many of the rope bowls out there, instead of using the cord plain or covering it with fabric, I like to dye it.

multicolorbowlThe above bowl was made with the same three colors as the coasters.

Today I want to show you how I get the variety of colors when dyeing cord. Also, I dyed some of the 3-ply cotton cording and I will show those results.

This bowl is made from cord I dyed for this tutorial.

dyedbowlclotheslineHere is what you will need:

  • cotton clothesline or other cotton cording
  • dye stock in bottles with tips (I use fiber reactive dyes, but you could also use Tulip or Rit liquid dyes)
  • soda ash, water, and dedicated bucket with lid
  • dyeing pan and rack
  • plastic to cover your dyeing when completed
  • plastic container to rinse and soak cord
  • Blue Dawn
  • towel to lay dyed cord on while it dries

So let’s get started. If using fiber reactive dyes, the cotton cording needs to be soaked in a soda ash solution for at least 15 minutes. If you’re not familiar with soda ash which you can find with pool supplies, it is necessary to bind the dye to the fibers.  I added a cup of soda ash to one gallon of hot water. Be sure you use gloves. (After removing cording, cover the container. The solution can be used over and over again. Add both water and soda ash to it when the solution gets low.)

dyeingcord1When I remove the cording out of the soda ash water, it more than likely is tangled. I take the time in this step to untangle and place the cording on the racks. The reason I like to use the racks is that they keep the cord elevated and away from the excess dye that drips off of the cord.

dyeingcord2Now to add the dye stock/solution. I’m only using two colors (lemon yellow and turquoise) on this cording, unlike the three I used in the first bowl photo. To make the dye stock from the fiber reactive dyes, add one tablespoon or more per cup of water. (This dye solution will last for a long time refrigerated. I’ve been using dye stock I mixed last July.)

I dye one color at a time, spacing it out on the cording.

dyeingcord3After the first color is finished, I add the next one.

dyeingcord4Here is how the cord looks all dyed. Be sure and check both sides of the cord before quitting. And don’t be concerned about the colors mingling.

dyeingcord5Now I cover with a garbage bag to keep heat in and wait for at least 5 or 6 hours, but I usually leave it overnight. Be sure at this stage your dyed cord is in a room that is at least 70 degrees. These dyes work best at 70 degrees or above. I have overnighted them in my dye studio with 40- 50 degree temperatures and they worked, but they would have been more vibrant had I brought them inside.

After the batch time, the colors will change a bit. You can see how the yellow and blue have combined to make green.

dyeingcord6Now to wash out. First rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.

dyeingcord7Once the water is clear, rinse in hot water and then fill the tub with hot water adding Dawn.

dyeingcord8Let the cording soak in the sudsy water for at least 30 minutes.

dyeingcord9Since I’m not washing this in the machine, in order to get all of the loose dye out, after this soak, I’ll rinse again. If there still any dye coming out in the water, I’ll do another hot soak. When I’m sure all of the dye is out (the water is clear), I’ll place it on a towel to dry. Once it’s almost dry I’ll hang it to finish the process.

Here is how the cording looks after it’s completely dry and ready to be made into a bowl.

dyedcordclotheslineI mentioned that I also dyed 3-ply cotton cording the very same way. This cord is much thicker and took the dye differently as you can see in this picture. The colors are lighter and there is very little blue left.

dyedcord3plyHere is how the two bowls compare in color.

bothbowlsThat picture shows how there is little blue left on the 3-ply. I was quite surprised at the difference.

The more I thought about it, I realized that the 3-ply is so much thicker. To make the colors as dark as the other bowl I really needed to use more dye. You will notice in the center of the 3-ply bowl you can see white. That’s where the center of the cord wasn’t dyed because the dye didn’t penetrate all the way. To fix this bowl I could use a marker to touch up that area.

As far as the 3-ply bowl, it is much more sturdy than the clothesline bowl. Since the cording is bigger, it sews up faster. Also, I love the texture. I’ll definitely be making some bowls out of the 3-ply.

As I blogged in an earlier post, I’ve been wanting to make these bowls for years and so glad I’ve finally gotten around to playing with the cording. If you decide to dye some cording, I’d love to see your finished projects.

Thanks for dropping by.