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Fabric Dyeing 101: Jar Dyeing Tutorial

Added Feb 21, 2011

by alisondahl

Brooklyn, New Yo...






We cover a lot of sewing and pattern-making tutorials on BurdaStyle but we haven’t touched much on fiber arts and dyeing. Designing or enhancing fabric can truly customize a sewing project, and also lead to the creation of a truly unique design. How many of you practice dyeing techniques? Which ones do you prefer? Are you looking for a specific dyeing or fibers-related tutorial?

For some time, Jar Dyeing has been quite popular with knitters who wished to create custom color ways for their projects. In their case, they are dyeing the yarn before it is knit. For jar dyeing fabric, I took a piece of sage green silk charmeuse and enhanced it with acid yellow, tan and black powderd dye. The outcome of my experiment almost looks as if the fabric were tie-dyed. I love the atmospheric quality and sense of depth jar dyeing achieves, and I also love surprises— you never know what you’re going to get!

I used my favorite sections of the fabric to create a dress and matching fabric covered shoes (see the tutorial for those here).

Material Notes

2 yards silk charmeuse (you can use any fabric which takes to dye), powder dye (not liquid), glass or heat-safe vessel, very hot water




Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Garment Type
Beach, Bohemian, Romantic, Steampunk, Victorian
Cotton, Silk

13 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • 8105da199acd58c5bf09552eecae897d430555c0_large

    Mar 12, 2011, 01.54 PMby alibelly

    Hi there! Here are some photos of my experiment with this technique. http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/jar-dye-technique-experiment I used a normal little jam jar without any pressing – the fabric what quite tightly pushed into the jar so that my be why it didnt float about too much.

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    Mar 7, 2011, 05.58 PMby helly-k

    Alright, so I tried the technique and it works, but I had an issue with the container I used. The fabric choice was Silk dupioni. The fabric takes on the colors well, it has a little shimmering effect that enhances the finish look.

    As for the technique, it is veeery important that the container used to dye the fabric keeps the fabric tight, otherwise when you pour the water, the fabric will float around and the dye won’t stay in the place where you placed it. It is important to keep the fabric pressed down, like how the french press does it.

    My advice, use a container that matches the amount of fabric you have. In my case, for about 1/4 of a yard of silk, a french press would have been ideal.

  • 2011-12-29_11-33-54_404_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 06.25 PMby Ashley Doll

    I’ve seen this type of thing on the runway, and I thought it was only possible with some kind of expensive technology. It’s very beautiful and perfect timing for Spring! I like that you put up a different kind of tutorial.

  • Missing

    Feb 26, 2011, 02.32 AMby justdorothy

    I knew I was saving those pickle jars for something other than making pickles ;-/, and all the bits of dye from the tye-die 60’s…gotta find my silk stash to try rhis.

  • 76d31529c6f4d12e1859130354c310b1dbc9a09b_large

    Feb 25, 2011, 07.55 AMby helly-k

    WOW…that is…a great idea, I’m gonna play with this, and see what else can be done, experiment with it more. I’ll be posting results for sure!!!

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    Feb 23, 2011, 03.53 PMby seazoo

    wow very cool! love the color tone! and You made the good fabric choice!

  • Modeling-2_large

    Feb 22, 2011, 09.51 PMby craftywubo

    This is so beautiful. I do a lot of plain dyeing, mostly using the washing machine. I’m not that fond of tie dye patterns. But, this is such a great idea and very creative. I can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks!

  • Fm_large

    Feb 22, 2011, 10.12 AMby Kitiya Palaskas

    I am definitely going to try this! Love the results.

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    Feb 21, 2011, 11.04 PMby fifilina

    I love the yellow accents on the fabric in the first pic, this looks like a fun experiment.

  • Avatar3_large

    Feb 21, 2011, 10.20 PMby carottesauvage

    to dye for! phroaw… sorry had to drop that heavy pun… hum, marbling on fabric has one would do on paper is an interesting avenue

    2 Replies
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Feb 22, 2011, 06.59 PMby alisondahl

      I should have used your pun as the project title! Good idea about marbling fabric, that would be really cool, I’ll have to look into it.

    • Avatar3_large

      Feb 23, 2011, 12.41 PMby carottesauvage

      Also, it would be interesting to re-explore your ombré tights tutorial… how the several dyes tint the fabric as the tights are drying
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    Feb 21, 2011, 08.57 PMby emily-marie

    I absolutely love how this turned out, the outfit is so good! I’ve dyed many fabrics before, but never used this technique. Interesting that you employed an old french press! I’d love to try this next, and batiking in the near future.

    1 Reply
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Feb 21, 2011, 09.01 PMby alisondahl

      Thanks! I was looking through a cabinet in my house (which is under renovation, so no kitchen or cooking supplies) but I did find a French presse that was old and rusty— so I thought it was perfect for thus type of dyeing!

  • 163853_10150113818555943_685110942_8116493_1089143_n_large

    Feb 21, 2011, 08.29 PMby henniem

    Love this..looks sooo good! Well done!! Can i ask a silly question though..i bought silk a few months ago and have wanted to try sometihng similar to yours since but have no clue how to do it..i get the glass jar and powdered dye but not the technique..any pointers? Thanks :)

    2 Replies
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Feb 21, 2011, 09.02 PMby alisondahl

      At the top of the page there is a link for the instructions for this tutorial— there you’ll find each step for the actual dyeing process.

    • 163853_10150113818555943_685110942_8116493_1089143_n_large

      Feb 21, 2011, 09.21 PMby henniem

      Completely missed that :)

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    Feb 21, 2011, 07.49 PMby nehmah

    Thanks Alison, I have two gallon Kosher Dill jars, glass which should hold fabric and dyes. I will give this a shot. This is MUCH appreciated. nehmah

    2 Replies
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Feb 21, 2011, 07.54 PMby alisondahl

      I am excited to see what you come up with! With silk charmeuse (above), the outcome was a sort of blurred atmospheric pattern, I am curious to try cotton voile next, I think the dye may look more graphic and bold.

    • Alixavatar_large

      Feb 22, 2011, 08.41 PMby Cheryl Scott

      Kosher Dill jars. . .that’s a great idea. . .I have some, too. This looks like a great technique!

    • This is a question
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