Jul 31, 2012

How to dye cotton ribbon with food colouring.

I bought some cotton tape, which was plain white, for a $1 from my local Sallies, as I wanted to use it as some kind of binding for a craft project. And I like to re-use stuff.
So here's how you dye it with food colouring until it has pastel shades.

*white cotton tape of some sort,  *splash of white vinegar,  *drop of detergent,  *red, blue, yellow and green food colouring,  *old microwave proof containers,  *baking tray or similar container,  *plastic wrap, *syringe or dropper,  *microwave.

First I soaked the cotton tape in boiling hot water, with a splash of white vinegar (as a mordant so the colour will "bite in") and a drop of dishwash detergent (for the fibres to be more receptive).
 I even microwaved it in the container with the water solution for a minute or 2.
 I then lined a baking dish with gladwrap ( to contain the mess somewhat) and laid down the hot wet ribbon in it.

 I mixed up colours into separate containers, dropwise, you don't need huge quantities, and added the same amount of water drops.

Formulas with red, blue, yellow and green food colouring:

orange;   1 drop of red , 2 drops of yellow

purple;       3 red        , 1 blue

dark green;   1 red  , 4 blue , 1 yellow

lime green;    3 yellow  , 1 green

aqua;    4 blue  , 2 green

pink purple; 5 red,   1 blue

Double the quantities or triple  if you want a larger amount. Add the same amount of water, or keep it concentrated.

Mix into containers, and suck it up into a syringe or a dropper , so you have good drop control.

Now put 1 drop at a time onto the wet tape. Don't worry about the white spaces, because while it is cooking in the microwave the colours will flow together and blend.

 I wrapped the package up in the plastic wrap, keeping it flat. Otherwise the colours will flow together too much and the colours will become muddy.
In to the microwave with a glass of water for extra steam.
 I microwaved on high for 2 minutes.

Then I took it out and let it cool down. I did not leave it overnight, because I was afraid the colours would run together and the clarity would be lost. However you could experiment with that, you might get stronger colours.
Then I quickly rinsed the ribbon in luke warm water with a splash of vinegar. And rinsed again in cold water.

Let the ribbon dry and then iron flat. Don't iron while wet; a strange thing happened when I did that. The heat seemed to suck the dyed moisture upwards to the iron and the bottom side of the ribbon turned out paler in colour. Weird.

Remember to have fun with colour combinations!

Oh and don't forget to wear some gloves.... Unless you want your hands to look mouldy!  :)


softearthart said...

Just lovely, cheers Marie

Elmtree said...

Easy peasy! And you can do it with kids, no nasty chemicals.
Magic in the kitchen!