Dyeing with RIT

A month or two ago I mentioned that I had done a project for RIT dye for Quilting Arts TV. I actually made three projects for the RIT representative to use on the show because I had too many different ideas to stop at one. They taped the show at the end of August and it will air in Series 300. I have heard it will be on the same episode that I taped last spring at quilt Festival doing the Fiesta Ornaments. I would love to show you more but you will have to wait for the show or pics in Quilting Arts magazine.

I never used RIT dye before doing this project, I had no idea what the colors would be like or how to dye fabric with it, I have always used Procion. I think I was imagining that I would get dull 1970’s colors, you know dusty mauve, blue gray, goldenrod. I was really surprised by the colors that I got when I adapted it to a low immersion dye method, dyeing pieces of fabric in small containers of dye. These are all the RIT dye colors.

These are some of the colors I made mixing dyes.The basic recipe is:
one cup hot water to 2 tsp liquid dye or 4 tsp powder dye and one minute in the microwave. Increasing or reducing the dye quantity will make colors more saturated or lighter.

This quantity of dye solution will dye up to a 1/2 yard of fabric or roughly a fat quarter of cotton batting. I am writing an article about it now that will go into a lot more detail about the process.

One of the things that intrigued me about RIT was that it could dye some man made fibers. It won’t dye polyester but it will dye nylon, so the soft Pellon interfacing can be dyed, just don’t put it in the microwave, it will melt. This is how it looks.

I used the interfacing on two projects. I ended up melting a lot of the interfacing during my experimenting with dyeing it, so I didn’t have a lot to work with for the projects. I found if you put the interfacing in the hot water dye solution and leave it there for a couple minutes, that is enough to dye it. I made one piece fusing the interfacing to batting to make details on flowers and leaves and another piece that is abstract working with layers of batting and interfacing.

This was a really interesting project to do. I found there are definitely times when the speed and simplicity of using Rit comes in handy, not to mention the fact that it is non-toxic. There are also times when I will opt for using Procion. Each product has its benefits and drawbacks. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable using fiber reactive dyes for a number of reasons and RIT certainly provides a viable option for artists to use instead.

12 Responses to “Dyeing with RIT”

  1. JJO says:

    Thanks for your info on dyeing using Rit Dyes. I too, have been skeptical using them as I thought they would produce those “70’s” colors.

    I am progressing nicely with the Color Theory Class and have completed Lesson 4. I find it difficult not to make the colors too ruddy looking.

  2. luanne says:

    Love the colors you got by mixing the dyes, I see some favorites in there. Very interesting! Look forward to reading more about this in your QA article.

  3. susan says:

    that is dyed batting, the example? you put the dye, fabric in bowl and put in microwave and that is it? for more saturated colors do you wave it longer or just let it sit in the dye longer?

  4. Carol Sloan says:

    So, can you do this in your regular microwave or do you need one that is dedicated to dyeing? I love this! No more “Star Wars” dyeing techniques! Thanks Judy and looking forward to the article!

  5. The sample at the top is dyed cotton batting. Just use gladware containers in the microwave. For darker colors use more dye, for lighter colors use less dye. For larger pieces of fabric you would need to increase the time in the microwave: 1/8 yard batting 1 minute, 1/4 yd batting 1 1/2 minutes…

    RIT is non toxic, so you can do it in your kitchen and use your regular microwave.

  6. KarenF says:

    I love your results! I’ve used Rit in past projects, and just recently I was cooking it on the stove in an old pot. My in-laws showed up about the time I was giving the fabric a rinse in the front yard. They think I’m a bit nutty…

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to your article. Ironically, I just got my first order of Procions in the mail today…

  7. Jo James says:

    Thank you for sharing all this gorgeous color with us!
    I found a fun little trick using RIT liquid dye recently. It works great for dying cheap white plastic buttons and beads. I used tan, a 50/50 mix with hot water overnight, and they turned out looking like wood or old bone. I was so excited! OK, I don’t get out much 🙂

    I’m so gld you found my bog so I could find yours.
    Your rose photos are magnificent.

  8. EileenKNY says:

    This my first time commenting, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while.
    Thank you so much for the information on Rit. I wasn’t able to do any dyeing this summer so it’s been very frustrating. Since I can do the Rit dyeing in my kitchen microwave, I’ll be able to work all winter long!
    Looking forward to reading your QA article on this.

  9. Martha says:

    Using Rit is perfect for me since I just want to dye some small pieces. I can’t wait for you article in the QA. Every piece of info you give on your blog has been useful for the things I like to do. Thank you so much for sharing….

  10. Cindy says:

    The main thing that I had heard about RIT dye and why I would never even experiment is that they don’t hold up to the sun and that the colours are not as intense. The colours you have here look fine but have you tried sitting a piece of fabric in the sun for a period of time to see if it fades?

    I would love to say I’m working on the Colour Theory but I don’t have paints here in Hong Kong 🙂 So I’m working on my colour theory by using magazine clippings. I did bring coloured pencils with me this time to leave. When my husband picked me up at the airport he saw my bags and asked me if I was moving in. I said Yes 🙂 I think if I’m spending 6 months out of the year here in Hong Kong, it is time to bring things & leave them! 🙂

  11. You are right there are some drawbacks to RIT, it is not as vibrant and the color will not hold up to washings the way fiber reactive dyes will. There are projects I would definitely opt for fiber reactive dye and then there are some projects when RIT will work just fine. For myself I would never switch from Procion to only using RIT, but I do like having lots of options when it comes to different projects.

    I think Rit is a good option for people who can not have a designated area in their house to store and use dyes or who feel uncomfortable with toxicity issues.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I used RIT dyes many years ago before I knew about Procion. I hand dyed fabric that I used in a quilt. I left the fabrics laying on a table where sunlight hit them and the colors completely faded in just a few weeks. The quilt ended up winning many awards but I now have to keep that quilt stored in a closet because of the fading issue. So just keep that in mind if any of your RIT dyed projects will be in daylight/sunlight for any period of time.

Drop me a note

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.