Saturday, January 24, 2015

Rust-Dyeing Fabric Process

There are many ways to rust-dye fabric, and these are the steps that work well for me. It doesn't take a lot of supplies or much time to do this, and you may enjoy it if you like surprises. I'm not good at tutorials, but here goes.

CAUTION...wear rubber gloves whenever coming in contact with rust. That's a universal suggestion no matter what instructions you read. 

Here is my rusty stash outside. Whenever I find another worthless piece of junk with rust, I toss it here.

Use a shallow flat-bottomed plastic container with a lid (mine is about a foot square, from Target, around $6) and a plastic spray bottle (also from Target for 99 cents). Line the bottom of the container with a piece of fabric to be dyed, 100% cotton is good. 

Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in the spray bottle and spray the fabric in the container until it's saturated. 

Lay rusty items of your choice on top of the sprayed wet fabric.

Put another piece of fabric to be dyed on TOP of the rusty items, and spray again until that piece is also wet. Then cover it all with plastic (Saran Wrap works) and push down in and around all the rusty items for the fabric to make good contact around them. Then close the lid and put in a warm place. This is how it looks before closing the lid. I put mine near our heating vent. 

After a few hours, rust starts to dye the fabric (exciting!). You can quit then for subtle rust-dyed effects, but I left mine until the following morning to get darker results. 

When you want to stop the dyeing process, take the box next to a sink and start to remove things beginning with the covering of plastic, which goes in the trash.

Then remove the first layer of fabric laying it in the sink.

Next remove all the rusty items and also put them in a pile in the sink. Then remove the bottom piece of fabric, into the sink it goes with the first piece. Everything smells like rust, so put it all in the sink to be rinsed. 
The rusty items will be saved after rinsing for next time.

Soak the two pieces of rust-dyed fabric in salt water (15-30 mins) to stop the rusting process before washing them (in the washing machine is fine, I put mine in with dark laundry). 

In the end, here is something like you may have on your two pieces of rust-dyed fabric. I started with peach and yellow cotton fabric. For the most dramatic results, I like using white. 

I love doing this, and I find myself looking for rusty things everywhere I go. Now for the biggest challenge -- deciding what to create with my new rust-dyed fabrics! 

PS...if your rusty objects are too large to lay flat like in this tutorial, you can wrap your vinegar/water soaked fabric around them, tie with string, and put into a plastic bag for dyeing. The tightly tied string produces a very interesting striped effect. I will show that result in my next post, a shorter post, I promise! 


kathyinozarks said...

great tutorial

Gene Black said...

What is the reason for spraying the fabric instead of just wetting it in a pan of water and vinegar? I am like a child always wondering "Why?"

Barbara said...

Gene, and all...a pan of water and vinegar works too! As mentioned, there are numerous ways to do this. If you google and also watch some videos, you will find them. Bottom line, when vinegar/water soaked fabric comes in contact with rust, it will take on the color. Have fun!

Barb said... to see your process...

Penny said...

Thanks for this!! I think I might do some rusting this spring -- I'm printing out your post so I'll have my 'lesson' right in front of me *smile*.

Penny said...

Thanks for this!! I think I might do some rusting this spring -- I'm printing out your post so I'll have my 'lesson' right in front of me *smile*.

Starr White said...

What a terrific and easy tutorial! I've been wanting to try this, but wasn't quite sure how to go about it. Thanks for sharing!