How to dye straw millinery

Written by cynthia myers
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Straw hats were once a summer wardrobe staple, with the straw dyed to match shoes or a purse, or coloured a crisp black. Straw millinery is still a practical accessory, providing shade at the beach or while working in the garden or walking a dog. A straw hat decorated with flowers or a veil adds an elegant touch to a summer wedding. Since hats can't be dipped into a dye bath and left to soak without destroying their shape, you must paint concentrated dye onto the straw. This allows you to control the dye application.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plastic
  • Newspapers
  • Painter's tape
  • 1 package powdered Rit dye for each colour desired
  • 1 quart jar with lid
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Sponge paint brushes

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  1. 1

    Cover a table or work surface with plastic. Add a double layer of newspapers on top.

  2. 2

    Use the painter's tape to tape off any sections of the hat you don't want to dye. Run your fingers over the tape several times to tightly seal the edges.

  3. 3

    Empty the packet of dye powder into the one-quart jar. Add two cups boiling water. Stir to dissolve.

  4. 4

    Dip the sponge brush into the dye and dab onto the straw. Apply the dye liberally, soaking the straw.

  5. 5

    Allow the hat to dry overnight. Reheat the dye and paint the hat a second time if you want darker or deeper colours.

Tips and warnings

  • Store unused dye in the jar with the lid. Reheat in the microwave until almost boiling to reuse.
  • Wear old clothes, shoes and rubber gloves to protect your clothing and skin from the dye.
  • Label the jar of dye and keep out of reach of children.

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