Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to Dye Aida!

Let's face it - sometimes finding the right color Aida for your cross stitching and craft projects is a major pain, and sometimes the color we need just doesn't exist.  This week I had a customer ask for a cross stitch to be done on UT orange (a burnt orange, for those not familiar with the school colors).  This is one of those situations where the color just doesn't really exist premade.

If you ever wanted to make your own colored aida, it's really quite simple!   For this project you will need:

100% Cotton White Aida cloth
Rit dye in the color of your choice (I use liquid Rit)
HOT water
Measuring utensils (a cup, teaspoon, tablespoon etc.)
Latex gloves
Stirring utensil

For this project I needed a finished product of 5 x 7 inches, so I cut an 8 x 10 piece of white aida, just to be sure I had enough to hem the cloth and frame the finished product.  You want to begin by making sure you have a large enough container for your cloth so it can "swim around".  You have to constantly stir this cloth so it doesn't get splotchy!  I don't recommend using anything you care about staining.  Fortunately, I splurged when I remodeled my kitchen and bought the biggest sink I could find, and it came with these handy metal inserts!  You can always pick up a bucket for a few dollars at a home improvement store.

You HAVE to measure all the water to make sure you get the recipe right for your dye color! I let the faucet run for a few minutes to get the water as hot as possible (if your water doesn't get really really hot, I recommend microwaving it or even boiling it in a pot!).  Then I measured all my water in a 2 quart pitcher, which it took three pitcher fulls to get the basin full enough!

Once you have your very hot water, add a half cup of salt (if it's a smaller piece of fabric) or a whole cup of salt if you are doing a lot of fabric.  A lot means A LOT, like a pound of fabric or more. I pretty much just make sure that the salt mostly dissolves.  Since the aida you're dying is 100% cotton, the salt helps achieve a deeper, truer lasting color.  Don't ask me how... but it surely works.  Be sure to don your gloves now unless you want multi-color hands!

Take your fabric and get it thoroughly wet, then take it out of the water prior to adding the dye!

Measure out your dye, and add it to the salt water.  To find out the recipe for the shade you want, just visit the Rit Dye site.  They have an entire section on color recipes!  I simply measure the dye, pour it in, and use the measuring cup to mix it together in the water.  Be sure you mix very very well before adding the fabric!

Place your fabric into the dye, and make sure it is fully submerged.  You must constantly stir the fabric to avoid any splotches!  I like to mix my aida around for 15 - 20 minutes to achieve a full color.  You can see in the pictures below how the color progresses.  Each picture is a five minute progression.

5 minutes of dying

10 minutes of dying

15 minutes of dying

After 20 minutes of dying

After your cloth is done taking a dip in the dye, it's time to rinse!  Start with warm water, then make it cooler until the water runs clear.

And your cloth is dyed!  Find a nice safe spot to hang it up to dry, and come back in a few hours.  Keep in mind it will lighten a little as it dries.  If you are in a hurry, you can always pop your cloth in the dryer on a gentle setting for a few minutes.  I prefer the air dry method, as it helps the fabric fray less.

You will notice when you fabric is dry that it is a bit wrinkled, but a quick ironing on a cotton non-steam setting will do the trick to get those wrinkles out.  

Keep in mind if you have any little wrinkles left over, they will come out when you stretch your fabric during framing.

And... ta-da!  You have custom hand dyed aida fabric!  If anyone else dyes their fabric I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!


  1. Well written! I'll be including a link to this post in my article about dying cross stitch fabric at Blessings to you and yours! Marie

  2. Well written! I'll be including a link to this post in my article about dying cross stitch fabric at Blessings to you and yours! Marie

  3. Thank you for all of your help!

  4. THANK YOU!!! THIS IS AMAZING!!! I always feel like cross-stitch fabric is so boring and I know people like to have neutral colors so their cross-stitch stands out more but I like to cross stitch on crazy colors and DMC has a couple of "Bright Ideas" aida cloths in yellow and blue and sometimes JoAnn's has pink, teal, and navy. I am doing a project in February through a local DIY Arts collective and I wanted some fun aida fabric to cross stitch on and I never thought to dye my own until now!!!

  5. Thank you so much. I just tried this and it turned out beautifully.

  6. I use fabric paint. Mix regular cheap acrylic paint with fabric medium to get any color or tone you want. The paint also keeps the fabric stiff while sewing, and helps prevent fraying. The paint would also work nicely with patterns or stencils.