Hand Painting and Dyeing Lace
You can create beautiful hand tinted and dyed lace even if you have little or no artistic talent. Anyone – even children- can create hand painted lace. The supplies are inexpensive, easy to find, and the results are stunning. Hand dyed lace can be used on any number of projects but looks especially beautiful on Victorian items.
• Lace by the yard or lace motifs. You MUST use lace made from a natural fiber such as 100% rayon which, in my opinion, takes dye the best. Poly lace cannot be satisfactorily dyed. All the examples shown below are 100% rayon laces.
• Dye- Either powdered dye such as Dylon or liquid such as RIT. Do not dilute liquid dye and if you use powdered dye, mix it with only 2-3 tablespoons of water and refrigerate any that is leftover. It is important to keep the dye concentrated for this project. Keep in mind that you can create almost any color from red, yellow, and blue dye, but if you aren’t comfortable mixing colors, then pick your favorite palette such as yellow, pink, purple, and green and purchase those.
• Aluminum foil to create a painting surface and contain the dye or a large, shallow plastic container. I use foil and turn up the edges several times to make a disposable container.
• Brushes. I use inexpensive ¼ or ½ inch flat bristle brushes that come in a package, one for each color of dye.
• Latex gloves (optional) to protect your hands from staining.
• Small containers- shot glasses work well- to set out / mix colors. You can use foam cups but I prefer something more stable such as glass. You will need one for each color that you are using. If you mix colors, you can also create a small container out of aluminum foil.
• Newspapers to protect the surface that you are using.
How to Dye Lace
Begin by thoroughly wetting your piece of lace (I recommend beginning with a lace motif rather than yards of lace which can be awkward to manage for a first project); lay it right side up on the foil. Using one brush per color, begin adding dye to the various portions of the wet lace. You might use yellow for the center of flowers, pink/red for pedals, green for the leaves, etc. The colors will blend and run together creating new colors and will dry considerably lighter than the piece appears when wet. Don’t be concerned if the area under the lace becomes saturated with dye; the results will still be beautiful as the colors merge. (See photos below.)
When you have covered all of the lace area with dye, rinse off the excess color in clean water and set the piece aside to dry on paper towels or on a sheet of aluminum foil.
When your lace is dry, it can be used to decorate pillows, a denim jumper, picture frames, lampshades, or any number of other projects.
Love the look of dyed lace for your DIY craft project? We've also put together a helpful guide for dyeing lace with Potassium Permanganate - an easily accessibly and beautifully effective chemical usually used in garden and aquarium applications. You can check out that guide and some photos of our own projects here!
By Florence Dove Google