Plain white broadcloth in grape Koolaid dye
Recently I have begun to play around with trying to colour some of my own art materials. I was looking for some options that were easy to use, readily available, inexpensive, and as environmentally safe as possible. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my experiments with you in case you wish to try them out for yourself.
Cotton muslin in fruit punch flavoured Koolaid
This first attempt was at dyeing fabrics with….drum roll….Koolaid! Yes, Koolaid! I bought the small packages of Koolaid (the kind without any sugar or artificial sweetener in them) to use for this. The other ingredients I used were hot water and plain white vinegar. I tried this on some leftover pieces of fabric I had on hand – one piece was white broadcloth and the others were cotton muslin (in that typical “beigey” muslin colour).
Plain white broadcloth in lime Koolaid (note: this one did NOT turn out at all! I left it in the dye for 24 hours and still the fabric looked just as white as when I started. Perhaps an additional amount of Koolaid would have worked better??? I’ll be trying this one out again!
Each piece of fabric was roughly 18 by 24 inches. For each batch of dye, I used one packet of Koolaid, approximately 8 cups of water, and 1 tsp. of vinegar (the vinegar helps to set the dye). I only dyed one piece of fabric per colour simply because I was trying this procedure out and didn’t have enough fabric around for more. Now that I know it works, I would do more fabric in each batch of dye to get full use out of it. I put the water, Koolaid, and vinegar into a large pot and placed this on the stove. I brought this mixture to a boil over high heat. Once it reached a boil, I removed the pot from the burner and put the fabric into the dye. I left the fabric in the dye for several hours. Obviously, the colour deepened as it was in the dye for longer periods of time but after a few hours, I found that it would reach a saturation point and no matter how much longer I kept it in the dye, it wouldn’t darken any further past that point. I just kept checking the fabric to see how saturated the colour was and removed it from the dye when I was satisfied with the colour. Note that it will appear a bit lighter when it dries than it does when in the dye bath. Once I removed the fabric from the pot, I squeezed out the excess dye and then rinsed the fabric under plain cool running water.
The fabric that was dyed in the grape Koolaid hanging on the drying rack. The muslins came out with mostly even coverage but the broadcloth came out with a more mottled, almost tie-dye type of appearance. It’s pretty but good to recognize ahead of time in case that’s not the look you are going for.
Some warnings: Just because it’s Koolaid doesn’t mean it won’t stain. After all, it IS being used as a dye and that’s kind of the point of a dye right? I used a nonstick pan because I felt that the type of coating it has on the inside would resist staining. I have other stainless steel pots that have stained just from making tea in them so I didn’t want to risk those so I don’t know what this dye might do to them. My nonstick pan, however, was fine. I felt that a wooden spoon would also stain so I tried a hard plastic one instead. It DID stain the plastic spoon – the staining faded after some time but never did go away completely so you may want to choose a wooden or plastic spoon that you devote only to this process – or that you’re ok with being coloured! Finally, I wore rubber gloves for when I needed to handle the fabric to hang it up for drying. At one point, I forgot to put them on and I ended up with purple fingers – mind you, they only stayed that way for a day but especially when I experiment with a stronger dye, this could be more of an issue. Finally, I used my wire clothes drying rack (as opposed to the wooden one) and lined my bathtub with large plastic garbage bags to create a stain-proof drying centre for my fabrics.