Fabric Dyeing with a Side of Mashed

resist dyeing
Fabric designed with baby rice cereal,
by Lisa Kerpoe.

pokey boltonNow that I'm all moved in down here in Houston, I'm ready to get cooking on some fabric dyeing and other surface design techniques.

Although the weather here is relatively warm and sunny, it's too cold for outdoor dyeing (for me, anyway). So I'm sticking to some simple kitchen resist dyeing techniques like this one from Lisa Kerpoe, who was a guest on Season 8 of "Quilting Arts TV."

Lisa's methods give her fabrics the look you might achieve with batik techniques, and they are so easy.

Here are the basic directions for mashed potato resist:

1. Prepare your fabric for dyeing by machine washing with 1⁄2 teaspoon of Synthrapol and 1⁄2 teaspoon of soda ash to remove any sizing. Spread the fabric out on a protected work surface. Pin it down so that it's fairly smooth; this makes it easier to spread on the resist.

resist dyeing
Resist dyeing with instant
potato flakes.

2. Mix 1/3 cup mashed potato flakes with 1 cup hot water. Spread the mixture onto the fabric. You can use a squeegee or a spoon-it doesn't have to be perfectly even.

3. Using a skewer, draw patterns onto your fabric. Writing on fabric when covered with this paste is also fun, and you can use kitchen tools and other implements to make impressions.

4. Let dry completely. This can take about 24 hours, depending on the humidity.

5. Paint on your textile paint or thickened dye. (Be sure to wear a mask when mixing the dye and wear protective clothing while mixing and applying the dye.)

6. After the dye has cured, rinse the fabric in warm water and scrub off as much of the resist medium as possible before putting it into the washing machine.

I love these resist methods because they are inexpensive, readily available, and completely low-tech. Perfect for making fabric on the spur-of-the-moment, or for when you want to design on one day and dye the next. Plus, the resulting fabrics will be uniquely yours.

To learn more about how to dye fabric from Lisa, check out "QATV" Series 800. New Quilting Arts Magazine editor Vivika Hansen DeNegre is on that series, too!

P.S. Do you dye during the winter months? What's your favorite technique?

Other topics you may enjoy:


Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog

9 thoughts on “Fabric Dyeing with a Side of Mashed

  1. For me, dyeing is a year-round activity!
    I am always interested in new techniques and most of the time I enjoy your tips. But I definitely won’t use food.
    Ute (Germany)

  2. I enjoyed the whole series of food resists in Quilting Arts magazine, but have not tried any yet. I get together with several other friends once a month to dabble in art quilt techniques, and resists are on our list. I dye year round as well. If I am microwave dyeing, I do it in my garage as that is where my microwave is, but I have a sink in my studio and can dye in there as well. Shar

  3. I was getting ready to try some of the resists from the kitchen from Lisa Kerpoe’s series of articles, but ran into a question. The first step in all of the articles is to machine wash the fabric in hot water with synthrapol and soda ash. The instructions for ingredients 1 and 4 say to use 1/2 CUP of soda ash with the hot water and synthrapol when preparing the fabric; ingredients 2, 3, and 5 say to use 1/2 teaspoon of soda ash (all articles say these quantities are appropriate for 3-4 yards of fabric). Since soda ash is fairly expensive, I don’t want to use 1/2 cup if 1/2 teaspoon is sufficient. Can you clarify or ask Lisa to clarify? I’d appreciate your help.

  4. Thank you to one of our readers for pointing out that we did not specify what type of dye we used in this resist technique. You can use thickened dye or medium-bodied textile paint. We recommend Pebeo Setaccolor or PROfab. These paints are easier to apply if thinned slightly with water and have the consistency of eggnog. Avoid thin paints, as these tend to bleed more. Have fun!