The 5 must-know dying techniques for fabulous fabric

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Renovating can be an expensive hobby, and if you had to buy in new every single time you want to change a feature of your home you'd soon be bankrupt. So knowing a few things about fabrics and upholstering can be the difference between another costly restyling and a DIY upgrade for what you've already got.

There's no end what you can learn to help acquire a tool box of style skills. Knowing how to change and improve your fabrics is a great way to start. And it's fun too.

So we've listed a few of the easiest and most effective ways to update your soft furnishings. Bored of those dull cushions? Try your hand at batiking. Done with those tired curtains? Give ombre a go. Need to jazz things up for a dinner party? Just stencil your table cloth. Transform your colour scheme in one fell swoop with some fabric dying:

1. Batik


Batik is a form of 'wax resistant' dying where you use wax to pattern a fabric before submerging it in dye to colour the areas left unwaxed. With one dip you can create interesting effects with dripped wax, and with multiple dyes you can layer and texture your designs with beautiful colour combinations.

Batik can have effects that look like crafted randomness - carefully applied wax can create natural and unique patterns. Wax can be splashed to experiment with effects or applied with precision to repeat designs across fabric.

Perfect for small dying projects where you really want to personalise things and keep a professional look, batiking is definitely worth a try and a whole lot of fun.

Here's how:

2. Tie dye

Tie dye, the hippy favourite, is possibly the easiest and most well known dying technique. The famous rainbow spirals of the 60s can be created with just some dye a few rubber bands and a sink.


Like with batik there is an element of randomness to tie dye. You never quite know where the dye will spread on the fabric. But at the same time you can control the overall shape of your design, and that can allow for some stylish juxtaposition of shape and colour to get some consistent and high quality designs on your fabrics.

While the multicoloured tie dye style can be a bit much for upgrading your cushion covers there are lots of colour combinations and techniques to make sure your designs look good. From simple one colour bands across, to stylish bubble effects, there are lots of ideas about online to help you come up with a unique idea to give your lounge a bit of fresh colour:

3. Stencilling

Learning to stencil on an old sheet isn't just a crafty way to spend a Sunday afternoon with the kids. It can also be a great way to stylise your dining room table cloth for your next dinner party. The great thing about stencilling is that you're not restricted at all by the effects of the dye on the fabric. You are completely free to come up with a unique design you want and apply it. That means you can go all out on personalisation.

So, for instance, you could stencil name-plates into the fabric, or stencil some stylish place holders, markers, pictures of food or just patterns. If you want a prettier pattern stencilling is versatile enough to let you layer up stencils or copy designs you've seen elsewhere in order to get the fabric you want for hardly any cost. And you can stencil on anything too with the right tools. Stencil away on curtains, walls and old furniture to upgrade the whole look of your room.

4. Sun dying

Sun dying is a brilliant and clever effect to transfer silhouettes (of anything you can think of) onto fabric. The process of sun dying involves laying objects such as leaves, paper cut-outs, or everyday objects like paper clips or cutlery, on to pre-dyed fabric, and then leaving in the sun to activate the blank areas, which change colour.


The process therefore allows you to create accurate designs, as only the parts of the fabric not in shadow will be dyed. This is great if you are not artistic enough to stencil images yourself. Like stencilling, the effects produced are great for table cloths, cushion covers or curtains where you want some high contrast detailed patterns.

There are lots of great ideas for sun dying available online. Our favourites include kitchen curtains which used knives and forks left out on the fabric in a culinary design and cushion covers with safety pin-dyed borders.

Find out more at:

5. Ombre

Ombre is very similar to tie dying or dip dying but, as the technique is less random, leaves an aesthetically more professional finish, which takes it's name from the graduated change of colour produced. A lot of people will know ombre as a technique used to colour hair, otherwise known as dip dying, where a brunette colour will gradually shade to blonde at the ends, in order to create a two-tone sun-bleached look.

The same effect is achieved with fabrics but in a multitude of colours. Ombre can be used on any fabric at the home with simple techniques very similar to tie dye. It relies on the fabric soaking up dye to create a gradient effect.

Given the natural lines that ombre creates it is particularly good for revamping your curtains or any vertical fabrics: If you have long, light curtains which have got a bit worn at the bottom ombre is the perfect way to bring them back to life by dipping the bottom of them in dye and letting the colour gradually soak up.

Here's how:

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