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Hand Dyed Fabric Swatches - Reds, Yellows, Greens Hand Dyed Fabric Swatches - Blues and Greens Hand Dyed Fabric Swatches - Blues and PUrples

Dyeing the Rainbow

Class Length: 6 hours


Learn the art of dye mixing to create a rainbow palette of hand-dyed fabrics.

We will focus on color mixing dyes using six primary colors (2 reds, 2 blues, 2 yellows) and black. I mix 95% of my colors from those seven dyes. We will start out with my formulas, mixing a 12 step color wheel from 3 primary colors using Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. The goal is to give you a resource for creating your own formulas.

This class will cover mixing dyes and chemical solutions, low water immersion dye techniques, measuring and recording dye mixes, working with the color wheel, creating tints and shades, and mixing across the color wheel to create wonderfully rich neutrals.

I discuss basic color theory to help guide your experiments and provide handouts that I use in my studio to record my color mixes and dye experiments. We will be dyeing LOTS of fabric - the recommendation of at least 24 pieces of fabric is the Minimum you will want to bring!

Skills and Skill levels required for class

This class is designed for both the beginner and intermediate dyers. The more you already know about dyes, the further you can go in the class.

Supply List

  • At LEAST 24 pieces of 100% cotton fabric - fat eighths or fat quarters.
  • At least 24 plastic ziplock bags, quart or gallon sized, to take dyed fabrics home in. (one bag for each piece of dyed fabric).
  • Waterproof marking pen.
  • Plastic tub or bucket (for transporting your wet, dyed fabrics home).
  • Fluid measuring cup 1-2 cup size - not one you use for food.
  • Plastic measuring spoons - do not use metal, and not ones you use for food.
  • Wear clothes suitable for painting, you will almost certainly get wet. (Try the dollar store for these and the measuring cups).
  • Rubber gloves, and you might want a plastic apron.
  • Feel free to bring a sack lunch.


  • You may bring paper samples to be painted instead of (or in addition to) fabrics if you prefer, in which case you’ll likely need plastic sheeting instead of ziplock bags to transport the papers home as they will still be wet/damp. Bring the type of paper that you work with most, as different papers will absorb the dyes differently.

Lab Fee: $10.00

Lab fee includes:

  • All dyes and dye chemicals used in class.
  • Use of miscellaneous supplies (buckets, measuring utensils, drop clothes, paper towels, etc.)
  • Handouts: setting up a dye space at home, blank dye recipe pages, and complete lecture notes.

All contents © Karen Williams unless otherwise noted
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Last Updated: October 17, 2010