Dyeing Nylon

I don't know how many times I've typed "you can dye nylon with food color".

Had I ever tried it? Nope, but common wisdom said it was true.

Time to dig out a test subject, I mean ball of yarn.

My first thought was to over-dye Fun Fur. But no, Fun Fur is 100 percent polyester. Food colors won't work on polyester.

I did have two pairs of toddlers' white tights (with the ruffly butts).

So take a look! I have no idea what I am going to do with dyed hose, but little girls' white tights are going to be on my thrift store list!

These samples were dyed with left-over Easter Egg dye.

One tablet was dissolved in 8 ounces of water. I used 2 teaspoons of this for each sample. The sample is 1 1/2 by 3 inches.

I followed the directions on the Easter Egg dye box about which colors need vinegar.

More information about Easter Egg dye and Color Mixing Charts

But, you can also use Kool-Aid, Wilton, McCormick or any other brands of artificial food color. How to Use Kool-Aid and Color Charts

The How-To:

  • Soak the fabric overnight in plain water.
  • Mix your dyebath. Any artificial food colors will work.
  • Put the fabric in the dyebath and let soak, until wet all the way through.
    A longer soak means your colors will be more solid.
  • Heat the dyebath to 180 degrees F. (and add vinegar, if you are using Wilton or McCormick).
  • Let the dyebath cool to room temperature. Rinse the fabric and let dry.


Unlike wool, nylon fabric doesn't turn gray when wet. So the color of the fabric floating in the dyebath is the color the dry fabric will be.

The dye bonds evenly, as long as you don't have air bubbles trapped under the fabric. Air bubbles make patchy colors. To prevent air bubbles, keep stirring the fabric in the dyebath.

Thanks to Ruth in Canada for the idea about dyeing tights.
She makes hooked mats from her dyed fabric.

This technique is great for doll making. Could make some terrific fairy, mermaid or dragon skin.

The samples stayed wrinkly. In fairness, the tights were very wrinkled to begin with. If you would like the fabric to be flat, you might have to stretch during drying.

Need some wild tights for Halloween? Some tights to match a dress? Try dyeing a whole pair in a large dye bath.

Alas, I don't yet have the correct ball of yarn to subject to food color. One vintage ball I own proudly states it is "pure nylon". Unfortunately, the yarn is dark brown.

Time to go shopping!

See Kool-Aid Color Charts for inspiring combinations.

How about Kool-Aid on blue yarn?

Need help choosing a base-yarn?

Go from Nylon to Dye Your Yarn Home Page.

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