What are the Different Methods for Textile Dyeing?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
A closeup of dyed satin cloth.
A closeup of dyed satin cloth.

Textile dyeing can be a rewarding do-it-yourself project. There are many different methods of dyeing both fabrics and yarns. Reusing, recycling and recoloring old materials help the environment as well as provide a creative outlet for producing artistic pieces. Some of the most popular textile dyeing techniques that can be done at home include coloring yarn in coils as well as applying batik and shibori methods onto fabrics.

Dyed silk.
Dyed silk.

Shibori is the ancient Japanese art of textile dyeing. The process begins with drawing a shape or design onto a piece of cloth. Next, a needle is threaded with thread and worked on the drawn pattern in a type of knot stitch. The shibori crafter decides where to add the stitches to the drawing to create an interesting final result.

The knotted fabric is dipped in one or more different colors of dye. After dyeing the threaded cloth, the thread is removed to reveal a hazy type of design effect. Different techniques can be used to vary the look. For instance, if the fabric is gathered up or pleated in the shibori textile dyeing process, the end result will look much different than knotting alone produces.

Polyester fabric.
Polyester fabric.

Batik is a method of textile dyeing that uses both wax and dye. The method is very old and originates in Africa and Asia. The fabric is pre-washed, dried and ironed before being stretched over a tray or board. An embroidery hoop may be used instead. A design is drawn onto the fabric before melted wax is applied to the parts of the pattern that will stay the same color as the cloth.

Sateen fabric.
Sateen fabric.

After the wax is applied, the fabric is removed from the stretcher and dipped into dye. If the wax cracks, thin lines will appear in the batik design. The cloth is then rinsed in cold water and hung to dry. The entire batik textile dyeing process is repeated as many times as needed to create the desired colors and patterns.

Yarn dyeing at home can be done using yarns neatly wrapped into coils. The coiling is necessary in this type of yarn textile dyeing to prevent tangling. The yarn coils are submersed into a pot or bucket of dye, water and vinegar. The yarn is then rinsed and dried. Some types of yarn may be hung to dry while others can be placed into a mesh bag and dried in an automatic clothes dryer.

Discussion Comments


@SalmonRiver- I sell locally, as well as online. I don’t have a textile dyeing machine, but I can tell you some of what I use for my textile fabric dyeing.

My gas cooking stove is my heat source. I recommend stainless steel or enamel pans for holding the dyes. Some pan materials can cause colors to change. You will definitely want a good thermometer. I use one for dyes and for wax when I am batiking.

I use plastic containers for storing dyes when I have leftovers. It’s also good to have a variety of containers in different sizes for dipping or rinsing fabric.

Don’t forget protective gear! I always have a supply of gloves and a couple aprons. I also use masks like you can get at a medical supply store to cut down on some of the fumes.


I have been trying to find textile dyeing machines designed for use at home. I have a booth at the farmer’s market in town. I have done a lot of traditional tie dye, but want to expand my products to include more forms of textile dyeing.

There are a lot of components to textile dyeing machines. The focus seems to be on the commercial need. I have found listings for spare parts, but not much in the way of machines for personal use. I wonder what it would take to make something for textile dyeing at home.


I have been trying to come up with enough people to participate in a class on textile dyeing and finishing at our local fabric store. This sounds like a fun way to make unique articles of clothing.

There are so many different types of dyes. I think I would like to start with the batik style. I recently learned that the wax has to saturate the material. I imagined it would just sit on top to keep the dye off, but I was wrong.

There is a lot of good information on wax temperature and technique. I’m going to try beeswax because it is supposed to crack less.


I never knew any of this. Thanks a lot.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A closeup of dyed satin cloth.
      By: klikk
      A closeup of dyed satin cloth.
    • Dyed silk.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      Dyed silk.
    • Polyester fabric.
      By: Silvia Crisman
      Polyester fabric.
    • Sateen fabric.
      By: katiagen
      Sateen fabric.
    • A folded square of linen before dyeing.
      By: Viktor
      A folded square of linen before dyeing.
    • An embroidery hoop may be used when dying batik.
      By: Louella Folsom
      An embroidery hoop may be used when dying batik.
    • A person can dye their own yarn at home.
      By: Maryna Ivanova
      A person can dye their own yarn at home.
    • Some yarn can be dried in an automatic clothes dryer after being dyed.
      By: itestro
      Some yarn can be dried in an automatic clothes dryer after being dyed.