7 Reasons to Dye Your Own Fibers, Yarn & Fabrics

Reasons To Dye Your Own Fibers Fabric Yarn

Dyeing yarn, fleece, and fabric can seem intimidating and even downright messy at first. Is it worth it?

The clear and simple answer for me is Absolutely! Today I wanted to share 7 very good reasons why you might want to dye your own fibers and yarn.

1. Unlimited Color Possibilities

If you’ve ever walked through the yarn aisles at a craft store, chances are you struggled to find the type of yarn you wanted in the color you wanted.

When you dye your own yarn, you are not limited to what’s available on the shelves at the store. You can create any color you want or need.

quote about dyeing yarn

Sure, there’s plenty of options, but let’s say you had your heart set on a certain type of yarn and a certain colorway – only to learn it doesn’t quite exist!

When hand dyeing your own fibers and yarns, you have a LOT of control for which colors you make.

Yes, sometimes hand dyed lots and batches can vary, but most times once you get it down to a formula you can consistently make almost any color and color combination you might want!

2. More Economical in the Long Run

I love to buy beautifully hand-dyed fibers, and the price they charge for a few ounces is TOTALLY justified. After all, it takes a lot of skill and time, and energy to prepare and dye beautiful fibers on a professional level.

However, if you have an interest in learning to dye fleece and yarn yourself , you can save a LOT of money in the long run, especially if you use natural and “grocery store” options.

I first started learning how to dye with simple ingredients like citric acid and food coloring. For less than $8 I had all the materials I needed to dye over 8 lbs of washed and processed fiber.

Will it save you time? Maybe not, but it definitely can save you some money! Besides, there’s another big benefit to dyeing your own fibers for spinning…

3. Creative Expression

Creativity quote by Scott Adams: Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Before I fell into the rabbit hole of fiber arts, I mostly stuck with mixed media. I loved playing with colors and trying experimental things.

Dyeing yarn in a lot of ways is just like painting a canvas – only your canvas is either yarn, fleece or fabric!

The first time I experimented with hand dyeing was right in my kitchen, using little more than a few shallow pans of water and my oven.

I loved the process of “painting” on fiber so much that I didn’t even notice it was late and everyone else in my family had gone to bed! {Of course, late night creating is partly why I named this blog Midnight Yarn!}

Dyeing your own yarns gives you a wonderful opportunity for creative expression. I am always so inspired by those who create color palettes and yarns with a story.

4. Transform Ugly Yarn into Something Beautiful!

Dye Over - Definition of overdyeing yarn

Not all yarn spins up the way we imagine it will when we start with a batt of fibers. Sometimes colors just don’t go together or different colored fibers end up running together to make a muddy yarn.

Fortunately, there is a lot of hope for ugly yarn! Many times even the most awful color combinations can be fixed when you over-dye with a complimentary color.

5. Reclaim & Reuse Old Textiles

Ugly yarn isn’t the only thing you can give new life! Once you learn the basics, you are able to easily transform almost any sort of fiber or fabric!

I am a bit of a flea market junkie, so a lot of times I’ll go to the Goodwill Outlet stores where you can buy clothes by the pound. I always keep a look out for old sweaters and clothes made from some of my favorite fibers, like merino wool or alpaca.

These old sweaters can be frogged or even felted to use for a number of different projects.

You can also cut all sorts of things such as t-shirts, denim jeans, flannel and more into strips for making fabric yarn or using strips for rug hooking or quilting.

Recently my daughters’ school changed their uniform style from khaki skirts and pants to dark navy skirts and pants. I was able to save the cost of buying all new uniforms because it was very easy for me to dye their old clothes to navy blue!

Once you learn the basics of hand dyeing, the possibilities are endless for what types of fibers and fabrics you can dye!

6. Complete Control Over Dyeing Methods and Ingredients

flower tea natural dyes
Many natural ingredients can be used for dyeing fibers – you can have your tea and colorful yarn too!

When you dye your own fibers, you can choose the exact ingredients you feel comfortable with.

Not all chemicals or techniques for processing yarn are safe for people or the environment.

I completely understand wanting eco-safe and natural products to use as dyes considering just how close we are to our clothes each day!

I love using food dyes and citric acid for dyeing wool and other protein based fibers because they have been approved by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” for food use.

While I have no plans on eating yarn, and I’m sure I also wouldn’t want to eat large quantities of food dye or vinegar, I do feel a lot more comfortable knowing these things have been tested and studied!

When you buy commercial dyed yarns or fibers, you often have no idea what type of process the manufacturer uses. Are they eco-friendly? Are they paying fair labor wages to their workers?

When you dye and spin your own fibers, you are in complete control for sourcing. Even if you do choose to use chemical based acid dyes, you have full control to make sure your dyeing process minimizes risk to people and the environment.

yarn dyeing benefits and advantages

7. Just for the Fun of It!

Beyond the first 6 reasons for why you should dye your own yarn, fleece or fabric – it’s just plain fun!

I love getting together with friends to dye fibers together for a day – we often come up with all sorts of beautiful color combinations and ideas!

You can also experiment with many, many different dyeing techniques, giving you unlimited possibilities for learning. If you are the kind of person who constantly loves learning new things, dyeing can give you a lot of choices!

If you’ve been thinking about dyeing wool or even yarn you’ve already spun for some time now, hopefully these reasons listed will help inspire you to give it a try! There are so many great ways to get started, and you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment or supplies!

Do you dye your own yarn? Why do you like to dye your own textiles or materials for fiber arts? I’d love to hear your reasons why to dye in the comments section below!

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