Heather Thomas

Rust Dyeing Fabric for Color and Texture

Heather Thomas
Duration:   8  mins

Dying fabric is a fun way to create one-of-a-kind colors and prints. Heather Thomas shows you how to dye fabrics in a rather unconventional way using a method called rust dyeing fabric.


For this rust dyeing fabric technique all you need is fabric, water, vinegar, metal and baking soda. Heather explains how to begin by first preparing the fabric. She does this by soaking the fabric in a mixture of half water and half plain vinegar. After it is soaked the fabric can be rung out and it is ready to be dyed. Heather shows some of the things she likes to use when rust dyeing fabric including pieces of old fencing, keys and nails.

The Dyeing Process

Once you have some rusty metal pieces selected and fabric soaked in water and vinegar, it is time to either lay out or wrap the fabric. Heather demonstrates both methods, first showing how you can either lay a piece of fabric on top of a piece of metal, or lay the metal on top of the fabric and then weigh it down. For the second method she shows how to wrap strips of fabric around smaller pieces of metal, like nails, to create a different look. After the fabric has been wrapped and laid out, you simply need to let it sit for several hours. Heather also explains that you can rust dye fabrics at the same time as you are dying fabrics other colors.


After several hours, or several days, depending on how long you want to let your fabric sit, you can remove the metal and let the pieces of fabric dry. Once the fabric is dry it can then be laundered. Heather recommends washing the fabric with no laundry soap, however you will want to add baking soda to the water. She explains how much should be added depending on how much fabric you are washing and what the baking soda does.

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