How to buy fabric dye

Written by robin coe
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How to buy fabric dye
(photos by Dominic's Pics,

There are many types of dyes that work best with various fabrics, and choosing the best one for your project is the key. Some do not react with certain fabrics or fibres whereas other fabrics work the best with paints instead. It's important to know which dye is best for your chosen fabric so you can plan out your project more efficiently or avoid wasting a lot of materials and money.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Decide the type of fabric you would like to dye so you can figure out the best dye for that fabric. Protein fibres such as wool, mohair and angora need an acid dye for its reactive properties. Synthetic fibres need a high-quality fabric paint rather than a dye. Whichever fabric you choose, make sure you pick a dye that reacts well with your fibres.

  2. 2

    Determine whether you want to go with a natural or synthetic (manmade) dye. Jo-Ann Fabric supports up to 30 iDyes brand colours for natural fabrics and eight for polyesters and nylons in the synthetic realm on its website. Natural dyes made from henna, indigo, sandalwood and other herbs, berries or vegetables are available from suppliers like the Dharma Trading Company online.

  3. 3

    Decide what you want to do with your fabric. This also will determine the type of dye used. Only when you've chosen the technique to be used on your fabric can you decide what dye to use. Screen prints, stencilling and block prints all use Inkodye. Tie-dyeing uses a pigment type of dye, and if you are just changing the colour of something, iDye is preferred.

  4. 4

    Purchase the chosen dye for your project. Grocers and local or corner drugstores often carry the more common all-purpose dyes like Rit and Deka. The more specific your project, the more specialised a retailer you need. carries dyes for tie-dye, tub dyeing, low-immersion dyeing, batik, dye painting, silk painting, screen and block printing and stencilling. They also carry a number of fibre reactive types for natural fabrics and have help links to aid you in picking the perfect dye for your project.

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