DIY Marble Fabric Dyeing

fabric dyeing

How about some fun experiments with fabrics and colors? :)

I may be writing mostly about hand embroidery but I'm actually an experimentalist by nature and I LOVE trying new stuff.

Last month, you could see a glimpse of me letting myself go a little wild with my first embroidered art journal where I stitched my heart away in all forms that I don't normally do... Truly, a wonderful creative outlet!

Speaking of that journal, one of the pages was colored in the same method that I'm going to show today.

diy marble fabric

The one with the geometric design! I used watercolors back then so the colors turned out a little muted. They are actually still a little brighter than in the picture, but still quite dull compared to this:

fabric dyeing


I used fabric acrylic and batik paint here.

Read this post about fabric coloring to understand the difference between watercolors and acrylics.

Marble fabric coloring

The method is actually EXTREMELY easy and super fun! And the results will always be unexpected.

But you will stain your hands A LOT in the process. So if you are wary of that, if you need to go out and meet people, it is better to use gloves. If you don't care about that (I mean, most of us are on quarantine right now) then you can have fun with bare hands :D

fabric dyeing

1. Prepare the fabric and work area

I used some cotton and linen fabric scraps in my experiment. Some were just too small to be used for stitching, others had stains on them which I wanted to cover with dyeing. And the rest, well, just took them to have some fun, no particular reason.

(You can totally use a bigger piece of fabric for your dyeing, the process will not change)

Prepare the work area by covering it with newspapers or food wrapping plastic. There will be a lot of paint and some of it may drop on the table surface so it is better to protect it.

fabric dyeing

2. Wet and lump the fabric

Take the fabric, wet it (I used a spray bottle) and make a lump out of each one. No particular order or science, just lump it together randomly like you would do with some waste paper.

Make sure your fabric is so wet that if you squeeze the lump in your hand, there will be some drops of water falling.

The level of wetness will determine how “sharp” will be the marble effect. If your fabric is slightly damp then the effect will be sharper. If your fabric will be as wet as if you just took it out of a bowl full of water (basically, if you squeeze, there will be a whole river flowing), then the coloring will be more smooth.

You can decide which way you like the most!

Personally, I had my fabric slightly damp and even had to spray some extra water in the process because cotton and linen tend to dry rather quickly.

If you decide to color a bigger chunk of fabric, again, make sure all of it is evenly wet! In this case, I would actually use a bowl of water.

fabric dyeing

3. Apply paint

Now take one lump and apply paint to several places in a random manner. You can choose between watercolors, acrylics and batik paint.

fabric dyeing

4. Squeeze the lump

After applying the paint, put the brush down and squeeze the lump nicely several times.

What happens here is that the paint spreads further from the spots you applied it to, but it will not reach every single corner of that lump so some places are likely to stay in original color. Meanwhile, the spots where you applied the paint will hold the most of it.

That's the whole secret behind the marble look :)

If you don't like surprises and want to have more control over what is going on, straighten the fabric and take a look. Then, if you think some places are too bold, you can lump it again and squeeze more so that the paint spreads better. Or, on the contrary, if you feel like the coloring is way too smooth for your liking and you want some parts to be bolder, lump it together and apply more paint to several places, then squeeze slightly.

fabric dyeing

5. Leave your fabric to air dry

Leave all the fabric to air dry, better overnight.

If you need your work area, simply move all the lumps to some other place where they won't be bothering you (but don't forget to cover the surface with newspapers or food wrap and place the lumps in a safe distance from each other when the paint is still fresh).

You can also straighten the fabric at this stage and let it dry like that. It will just take a bit more space.

6. Wash and iron the fabric

After the fabric dries out completely, wash it in a bowl with lukewarm water, a drop of dishwashing liquid and, optional, a drop of vinegar. (They say vinegar helps to preserve the brightness of colors. I have never noticed any difference between when I wash my embroidery and dyed fabrics with vinegar and without it).

Wash each piece separately in case some colors will bleed. But, normally, if you use good paint, it shouldn't happen.

After washing it, all that's left is to iron the wrinkles out!

fabric dyeing

fabric dyeing

7. Marvel at your results

My favorite part!

fabric dyeing

This one turned out the best, in my opinion :)

fabric dyeing

fabric dyeing

This one is so magical too. I applied red paint first, squeezed it, then applied blue paint and squeezed. As a result, the paint got mixed in the most fun way and now reminds me of galaxy skies!

fabric dyeing

This one is totally not what I expected. The paint didn't spread very well, I wonder if the fabric was half dry without me noticing? Most likely, that's the reason, so be careful!

Where to use this fabric

I mean, if you use a bigger piece of fabric, you can pretty much do anything with it. Use it in patchwork, make a pillowcase or a tote bag. You can color a T-shirt this way!

As for embroidery, I feel like the toned-down watercolor version would be more suitable. Trust me, the marble effect is quite visible there, my pictures are just a little too bright. And on a toned-down fabric your colorful embroidery will stand out more, in my opinion.

Or, maybe you can play with contrast and do some whitework on a vivid marble fabric?

Frankly speaking, I don't know for sure yet what I will do with my fabric scraps. But I am very hopeful for the embroidery art journal #2 and I want to make more applique and fabric collages there and have more fun with various media. So this is me adding some stuff to my stash :)

What would you do with a fabric like this?? :)

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