Make Your Own Fabric with Easy Resist Dyeing

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

pokey boltonI just love to design my own fabric. Sometimes, I love it so much, I get all mushy.

That's when you'll find me whipping up resists in the kitchen using mashed potato flakes, oatmeal, or even rice cereal for babies.

I learned these resist dyeing techniques from Lisa Kerpoe, who has been writing a series on kitchen resists for Quilting Arts Magazine and who also 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 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.

I had such a good time making fabric designs with Lisa on "QATV." Even if you don't like to get all mushy, there are plenty of other talented artists demonstrating surface design and stitch techniques in Season 8 of "QATV." You won''t want to miss a minute, so be sure to pre-order you copy of the "QATV" Series 800 DVD set today.

P.S. Do you use kitchen resists? What's your favorite? Any artistic results you'd like to share or funny mishaps you can relate? Leave a comment (and a link to an image) below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog

4 thoughts on “Make Your Own Fabric with Easy Resist Dyeing

  1. I use Palmolive liquid gel dishwasher with either stamps or paint brushes to remove color from fabric, readymade items, etc. Lay down plastic & cover with newspaper. Layout the fabric or garment on top. I put some Palmolive on a plastic plate and dip my stamp (large, not too detailed stamps) in it or my paint brush. And then apply to the item. Let it dry and then wash the dried detergent off. You can test varying times for drying to see what colours you get as the dye is removed in the process. You can leave it, as is or paint/dye over it.

    Alice in Hicksville, NY

  2. Hello Pokey
    Interesting article.
    Got a couple of questions.
    What kind of Dye did you use in this process?
    And what temperature setting for the final wash?

  3. In answer to your question about dyes, these recipes use MX fiber reactive dyes. They are non-toxic, easy-to-use dyes available at some art supply stores and online at Dharma Trading Company and ProChemical and Dye.

    The final washout is in hot water.

    Complete instructions are in the February/March 2011 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. There are also a lot of online resources for working with MX dyes.

    Good luck – I hope you try it out!

    Lisa Kerpoe

  4. Hi, couple questions from a newby dyer:

    A. What is, “thickened” dye? ( direction #5 above ). Is this achieved by adding a product to the dye, or do you use less water when preparing dye ?? How thick should dye be?

    B. Are dye and paint interchangeable?