Tutorial: Kool Aid dyeing

10 Mar 2013

 

Skill level: BEGINNER 

Kool Aid is GREAT for dyeing mohair. It's easy to afford, easy to find, easy to store, and easy to work with. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, though, because it's ALSO easy to dye your hands with. Not that I know anything about that. Ahem.

Kool Aid is ready-to-dye straight from the packet because it already contains citric acid, which helps color bond. As a protein (acid) dye, Kool Aid will readily tint animal fibers like mohair, alpaca, and wool. Plant (cellulose) fibers like cotton or linen will dye with Kool Aid too, but to a much lesser degree. So don't use Kool Aid to target-dye just the mohair backing and NOT the hairs; to achieve that result, choose a dye meant for the plant fibers that make up the backing.


Kool Aid is a non-toxic, forgiving dye method, and the irregularities of mohair plush forgive any dye inconsistencies even further. So relax and have fun with it! 

HOW TO MIX AND STORE DYE:

 

  • Pour the contents of a single unsweetened Kool Aid envelope into a mason jar, adding 8 oz. water per envelope

  • To identify jars, cut the name of each color off its envelope and affix to the lid


Liquid colors stored for months stay bright and vivid. Don't drink them, though; their sugar content encourages bacteria growth over time, which is invisible and won't hurt the dye process, but might hurt you if swallowed. Solids that fall out of solution over time are re-integrated in an instant with a quick shake of the jar.

Pre-mixed liquid dyes make a great start for custom colors. Simply pour them one at a time into a clean jar or bowl, mixing colors until you achieve the exact shade you want. For a lighter shade, add water to dilute. You can also add cold-brewed tea to dull down too-bright colors.

HOW TO DYE FABRICS:

 

  • Pre-cut pattern pieces * or gather yardage

  • Soak fabric in hot water 30 minutes or more (removes sizing, open up fibers)

  • Wring water from fabric and set fabric aside

  • Put on gloves! Don't take them off!

  • Pour Kool Aid dye into large microwave-safe glass bowl

  • Optional: Add 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar (increases acidity of dye bath)Place damp fabric in bowl

  • Mix around with your hands, coating fabric with dye

  • Place glass bowl in microwave

  • Microwave 2 minutes, then cool slightly

  • Check color. Be careful, it's hot!Continue microwaving/cooling in 2 minute increments until color is to your liking

  • Carefully drain Kool Aid dye from bowl. Be careful, it's hot!

  • Remove dyed fabric from bowl. Be careful, it's hot!

  • Rinse fabric thoroughly with hot water until water runs clear

  • Re-dye or over-dye at this point, if you like

  • Hand wash fabric to remove dye residue and Kool Aid scent

Tumble dry cool -- or better yet, air dry flat indoors (limits shrinkage)​

* I like to dye just enough fabric for one bear at a time. Don't forget to add in an extra scrap or two to your dye bath for your swatch book, and in case of "mohair emergency." To accommodate the slight shrinkage to your pattern pieces that results when you cut before dyeing, cut pattern pieces slightly outside usual tracing lines. Of course, you can dye yardage instead, if you prefer. Loosely woven fabrics may fray at edges once dyed, so the pre-cut method is recommended only for fabrics with tightly woven backings.

​Dyed mohair/bears should be kept out of direct sunlight; as with any dyed textile, these fabrics will fade when UV exposed. To obtain a deeper final shade, start with a darker base fabric (ex: beige, gold, or brown mohair instead of cream or white.)

Remember to keep swatches and take notes on your Kool Aid dye experiments, so you can replicate favorite outcomes in the future.


SAFETY FIRST: This process involves very hot water which can cause severe burns. Kool Aid dyes may stain clothing, skin, and surfaces. Please exercise appropriate caution. Do not ingest liquid Kool Aid dye that has been stored for any period of time as it may harbor harmful bacteria. Keep stored Kool Aid dye away from pets and young children who may drink it. While this dye method works well for me, no guarantees are offered regarding your personal outcome.

About my tutorials
These "trade-secret" tips & tricks are original and posted just for you. Pins, links, and shares warmly welcomed! You're free to sell what grows from viewing these tutorials. Please don't repost or reprint them, though, or claim them as your own. Your respect and understanding are appreciated. Happy creating!

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© 2018 Shelli Quinn | Shelli Makes Studio

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