Dye Your Own Fibers for Needle-Felting and More

If you're a fiber artist, is it possible to see a tangle of silk ribbons, a hank of hand-dyed wool fibers, or a stack of thick felt without wanting to reach out and touch it? Perhaps that's why I like needle-felting so much: the entire process involves touching and manipulating soft, beautiful fibers.

Jane LaFazio's fiber art with hand-dyed fibers.

One of my favorite fibers for needle felting is silk gauze. Because it is light and semi-sheer, you can gather it, use it flat, twist it and build up layers using needle-felting techniques, and it will not build up too much bulk.

Fiber artist Jane LaFazio is a big fan of silk gauze in her needle-felted projects and dyes it herself to customize her colors. She started with coffee and rust and then branched out into colors, using  Adirondack Color Wash, which comes in spray bottles. These acid-free, non-toxic, water-based dyes are perfect for use on paper and fabric but are also very staining, so Jane says to be sure to wear gloves.

Here's the process she uses for dyeing sheer fabrics.

1. Begin by covering the surface of a foam core board (or any flat, moveable surface) with freezer paper in order to protect it and so you can carry the wet dyed fabrics to another place to dry.

2. Wet the fabric with water and then spray it with the dyes. With gloved hands, squish the fabric to distribute the dye–but not evenly. Use an array of colors for each color set since if you want the fabric to be variegated.

3. Let the fabric dry completely and iron it to heat set the color.

Jane recommends working in analogous colors when dyeing your sheers. Analogous colors are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, like yellow and red, green and blue, and blue and purple.

Luscious hand-dyed fibers produced from
Dyeing in the Kitchen with Deb Menz.

Dyeing your own fibers is not only fun, but you can customize your colors to create your own personal palette.

I discovered many useful dyeing tips–and got an eyeful of fabulous fibers I'd love to touch–while watching Dyeing in the Kitchen a full-length video tutorial with Deb Menz on Craft Daily. With Deb's step-by-step instruction and simple math formulas, you'll be able to make endless color variations that you can't find commercially.

Craft Daily is wonderful source of video tutorials by many of the best artists and teachers available. Be sure to check out all the learning opportunities for fiber artists and more.

P.S. What is your most irresistable fiber? Leave a comment below.

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