Cross Stitch Patterns by designer Pamela Kellogg of Kitty And Me Designs

The Blog Of Cross Stitch Designer Pamela Kellogg
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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Tutorial - Dyeing Silk Ribbons with RIT Dye

I've had several requests for a tutorial on how I dye my Silk Ribbons for my Crazyquilting.  It's much easier than you might think!  Get ready to make a mess and have a lot of fun!  It's like dyeing Easter Eggs! 

NOTE:  I'm using RIT brand powdered dye because it's budget friendly and it does do a nice job.


RIT Dye Powder in a variety of colors
Clear Plastic Cups (available in the Dollar Tree Store)
1/2 inch wide brush
Silk Ribbon (I mostly use 4 MM and 7MM white ribbon)
Hot Water
Paper Plates
Paper Towels
Gloves (if you don't want your hands to turn purple)

You'll want to cover your workspace with plastic.  I didn't do that for the photos because I didn't want the flash reflecting back.  You'll also want to wear an apron, preferably a black apron.

NOTE:  if you get dye on your counter top, table or wall, a little bit of bleach water will take it out but it's better to cover your surface.

To start, fill your cups 1/2 full with hot water.  It doesn't have to be boiling.  You don't want to burn yourself.  Just hot water.  Add about 1/4 teaspoon of powdered dye to each cup.

You'll want to start with your lightest shades first so 1/4 teaspoon is all you need to start with with.  Mix well to make sure your dye powder is disolved.

Next, cut a 2 yard length of your white silk ribbon and fold in 1/2 and then in 1/2 again and then in 1/2 again.

Next, put your ribbon in one of the dye colors to about 1/2 way.

After a few seconds, take the ribbon out of Dye color #1, turn it around and dip the other end into another color.

The choice is yours but think about what colors you'll want to stitch with.  Purple and blue blend well, blue and green blend well, pink and red blend well and so on.  Try one end in a light green and the other end in a different shade of green.  The choice is yours but once the colors are set, that's what you have to stitch with.

When you're happy with your colors, put a paper towel on top of a paper plate and lay your ribbon bundles on that.  Keep in mind that colors will dry lighter than they look when they're wet.

Another thing you can do is to dye your ribbon as described above.  Lay your ribbon bundle out on your paper plate and then take a brush, dip it in one of the dye colors and drip it onto your ribbon bundle:

This was shaded green and I dripped some purple onto it.  That gives a really nice touch of added color.

Once you have some light colors dyed, you can add a little more dye to the cups or you can add a bit of brown dye powder to each of the colors.  That will give them a muted tone.  Just try a little bit at a time.  You can always add more but you can't take any out until you dump it down the drain and start from scratch.

Here's another tip.  Dye your entire ribbon bundle in one color and then, while it's still wet, dip one end in another color.  A whole different effect!  In the above photo, I dyed the ribbon purple and then dipped an end in brown.

Once you have your ribbons all dyed, lay a sheet of paper towels over a hanger and then lay your ribbon bundles on the hanger and hang to dry.

I have a heat vent right next to my bathtub so I hang my hangers on the shower curtain rod.  That's when it's Winter.  In the Summer, I dye my ribbons outside on the deck.

Once dry, you'll need to iron your ribbons.  This will get out the wrinkles and will also heat set the colors.  I always put an old pressing cloth over my ironing board just in case!

Iron your ribbons on a silk setting and then they're ready to stitch with!

I don't bother with recipes or formulas.  I really just stitch with whatever I come up with.  You're welcome to play and mix colors and write down your formulas as you go if you want to. I don't like to get so technical with this.  For me, it's playing and I try to just enjoy the process of that.  When I'm done, I have gorgeous hand-dyed ribbons to use on my crazy quilts and other embroidery projects.


Char said...

Your ribbon is just beautiful. This is the same technique I use for dyeing basket reed, Char

Kim B said...

Just beautiful, Wonderful tutorial. You make it look so easy. I love random not technical too. I just saw the Marie block 7 and it is looking beautiful, even more so than before. I gotta head over to Shabby Lane and sign up for giveaway. Hope your day is great and I am sure my hubbie can relate to living with d, certainly can be hard sometimes. Have a happy week. Hugs, Kim

Anonymous said...

I'm off to get some white silk ribbon after this!Thanks for the dye tips.Silk ribbon is really nice isn't it!

FredaB said...

Pam this is a great tutorial. I am sure it will help a lot of people - me included. I have nly used the little bottles of oz dyes and have often wondered about the rit but did not know quantities, etc.

Now I do. Thanks.



Trisha said...

Where do you get the white silk ribbon? I am always looking for alternate sources.


Magpie's Mumblings said...

I'm SO far behind on my blog reading/commenting and finally have decided that I will just jump in before I get any further behind. Great tutorial Pam - it's something I'd like to try at some point. Yours look so pretty!

Christine said...

Pam, you make it look so simple. One question, do you dye with dry or damp ribbons ? I've read that ombre effects work best with wet ribbons ? Thanks for your help,
Christine in sunny Sydney Australia

allie aller said...

This is SO simple and helpful. I'm not a dyer but I plan on trying this!
Thanks, Pam.

Terri Lee Takacs said...

Thank you SO much for this Pam! I have a basket full of things I have wanted to dye but don't have the $ to invest in dyes etc. I can get this dye on my next trip to Walmart super cheap ~ I can't wait to try it! Thanks!!!

Connie Eyberg Originals said...

Pam, I haven't had a chance to try this yet, but it looks very easy and economical. Your ribbons turned out beautifully! I can't wait to try it. Thank you both for the tutorial and the sources for ribbon! Connie

Quayceetatter said...

Great Instructions and inexpensive for the average quilter to dye their own ribbons and material...Thank you for sharing.

kiki said...

I cannot thank you enough!! I have been wanting to do this for so long and figured it was so complicated I put it off!! I'm off to the store to buy dye!!!

kerrykatiecakes2 said...

Thannk you for sharing your tutorial Pam! It looks like a great way to spend a quiet winter day...

traderslostart said...

I am not sure how I missed this since I read your blog all the time. Question. Can you use this method to dye Venise Lace appliques? Would you, do it with a paint brush? Thank you Pamela for all you do. I admire you. Kind Regards, Sondra

kathleen said...

thank you for the info,really appreciate it,,,,your work and your ribbons are beautiful

Unknown said...

Hi...can I use fabric paint/acrylic colours, instead of dye...will it come out well?

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