Tie-Dyed Napkins

I have been wanting to experiment with tie-dyeing for a while now.  The last time I can remember doing it was when I was very young.  I thought a few tie-dyed napkins might be a fun addition to my party linens, so I called up an artsy friend of mine and we made a tie-dye date.

These are the two sets of cotton napkins I tie-dyed.

Next, I set about researching tie-dyeing online.  The only things I could remember from the singular tie-dyeing occasion of my youth were that white and light color fabrics work best, you need to soak the fabrics first, and rubber bands are involved.  Not necessarily a plethora of knowledge there.

These are the dye bottles after I finished. Be sure to have plenty of rubber bands - you use more than you would think!

After looking around, I quickly determined that I would rather visit the craft store and purchase a ready-made kit than try to assemble all the materials myself.  I was happy to find that a kit of three vibrant colors, filled with all the supplies I would need, only cost $10.

Of course, for the tie-dye aficionado, there are more involved kits that run up to $20.  The major difference with these kits and my simpler kit seemed to be that the more expensive kits included a whole rainbow of colors, while my kit had a fuchsia/violet, a lime green, and a deep blue.  It was enough for me, and if you know the color wheel at all, you can make other colors just by mixing these three together.

The only other item I bought was soda ash, which is used for pre-soaking the fabrics before you tie-dye them so that the fabric will more readily absorb the color.

Yesterday my friend and I tie-dyed three sets of napkins and one set of pillow cases.  She had the pillowcases and one set of napkins, and I had two sets of napkins.**  If you decide to tie-dye anything, look for 100% cotton items or cotton blends.  According to my friend, polyester is not a good idea.

**I think it is important to note that one set of my napkins were off-white, and the other set was white.  Both turned out wonderfully.

Overall, I was surprised at how easy and clean the process was.  The dyes came in squirt bottles and only needed to be filled up with water and shaken.  Once the dyes were made, you could use the bottle to color the fabrics with relative precision.

Here is one of the pillowcases my friend made.

Here are the white napkins I dyed. I used all three colors of dye on these.

I have outlined the steps I took when tie-dyeing my napkins because I found the websites I viewed to be too complicated or verbose when describing the process of tie-dyeing:

  1. Pre-wash your items in the washer with a little detergent to remove any finish that may be on the fabrics
  2. Put on plastic gloves and fill a bucket with a gallon of water and soda ash as directed by packaging
  3. Soak the items in soda ash for about 20 minutes, or as directed on packaging
  4. Add water to the dyes to make the colors, or follow the instructions included with the dyes (I thought it was great that the kit I chose boasted “just add water!”)
  5. Consult the kit, print, or online sources for pattern ideas
  6. Wring the water out of your first soaked item and put it on a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper on a newspaper-covered work area
  7. Arrange the fabric in the design of your choice, looping rubber bands tightly at least 3-4 times around the rolled fabric to make circles
  8. Use dye bottles or mixed dyes and apply the colors as desired
  9. When finished, wrap the fabric (rubber bands and all) up in plastic wrap or wax paper and secure with additional rubber bands to keep the fabric damp while the colors set in
  10. Allow the dyes to set for at least 8 hours, I let my napkins set for about 15 hours
  11. Carefully unwrap the bundles over a stainless steel sink and remove the rubber bands with a scissors
  12. Hand wash the items first in warm water with a little detergent, wringing out the excess dye from the fabric (I noticed that the fuchsia/violet seemed to be the prevailing color in the water)
  13. Wash the tie-dyed items separately in the washer on warm with detergent on a large load setting for lots of items (since I only did 4 napkins at a time, I used a small load)
  14. Dry fabrics separately in the dryer
  15. Enjoy your handiwork!

These are the off-white napkins I dyed fuschia/violet and lime green. These are my favorite and turned out very well for my first attempt at napkins!

Just a thought I bet a tie-dyeing party would be a fun event to for a birthday, bridal celebration, or baby shower!