Dyeing Dawn’s Dyes

I am such a lucky duck! My friend Dawn gave me these old dyes recently. So today I’m showing you my results with dyeing Dawn’s dyes.

These 14 dyes were given to Dawn after her friend who owned them died in a car crash. Dawn has had these dyes for over 10 years in her studio waiting for time to play with them. She decided to give them to me so that I could have some fun. Besides acquiring more colors, I was looking forward to a great experiment in seeing how old dyes work.

Most of the dyes are dated, with all of them purchased in the 90s. One was even marked May 1991. So I decided to low immersion dye them. However, because they were old, I added a bit more dye than I would normally.

Dyeing fat quarters, I added 2 grams of dye per 1/4 cup of water. Usually I’d only use a little over 1 gram. More info on low immersion dyeing at the end of the post.

Here they are with the dates that were on the jars. Look at Mustard, the oldest one – still going strong!


I was really surprised how beautiful the colors turned out. The only one that wasn’t strong was the Royal Blue.

I plan to dye it again but with more dye. I suspect this is an operator error in that I didn’t stir the dry dye in the container enough. But we’ll see when I dye it again. UPDATE: It was an operator error. I must not have stirred it enough before using the dye. Check out this post with my results on the Royal Blue.

Dawn told me that these dyes were stored at her friend’s unheated barn. She only had heat on when she was dyeing or teaching classes. Dawn has kept them in her basement since. So this questions the need to keep the dyes from temperature fluxations.

I was pleasantly surprised. I question if I needed to add that extra dye except for Royal Blue. I’m looking forward to using these dyes, and especially seeing how they work with ice.

As for low immersion dyeing, if you aren’t familiar, it’s a simple way to dye and a great way to find out how the dyes are reacting. I washed the fabric (fat quarters) and then soda soaked them for 15 minutes. I then scrunched the fabric into either zip bags or a small plastic containers. I mixed the 2 grams of dye into 1/4 cup of warm water. Once the dye had dissolved, I poured the dye water over the fabric and using my gloved hand scrunched the fabric, making sure the fabric was completely covered with dye. Then I left them to batch overnight. I brought them into the house because the dye studio was way too cold. It’s such a simple and effective way to dye. You also use much less water than regular vat dyeing.

What a fun experiment! Now if you happen to come across some old dyes, check them out before you toss them. Stay tuned for my low immersion dyeing tutorial. I’ve linked this post to Off The Wall Friday. Check out all of the inspiration there.