Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rainbow Dyed Felts with Koolaid

 Dyeing with food dyes, including Kool Aid is a great project for working with children, and can also be a practical way for anyone to get some lovely variegated wool felt into their stash! We dyed ours with Kool Aid, as a way to get a nice mix of colors, with just white wool felt, and some easy to find ingredients. Food coloring or cake decorating colors also work using the same principles- they all work as acid dyes on the wool fibers. Not only can you achieve beautiful custom color blends on your wool felt, it is also more economical. You can purchase larger sheets of plain natural or white felt, and then dye them as you need them for specific projects, or just for the fun of the dyeing itself!

Note: Materials and resources found at the end of this post.

Fill a bowl, or sink with enough lukewarm water to cover the wool felt sheets. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar per sheet to the water. Mix well and add the wool felt sheets, making sure they are completely submerged. Leave to soak for 15+ minutes. Lift the felt sheets one by one, and allow some of the soaking liquid to drain off. The more wet they are, the more the colors will mix and blend.

Lay out plastic to protect your work surface. If working with children, it is nice to put each KoolAid color in a separate bowl with a small spoon for "painting", or they can use their fingers. You can also just sprinkle the colors on directly from the packages. It is fun to watch the colors develop and mix as they are sprinkled on. Encourage your children to sprinkle the colors lightly, like fairy dust, and to cover as much of the felt as possible.

To set the colors, Place the wool in a steamer, or in a metal sieve suspended in a pot over boiling water. Steam for 15 minutes.
You can also put the wool in a double boiler, and heat for about 30 minutes. 
You can also dye wool felt in tonal colors. Soak wool felt in warm water, for 5-10 minutes before dyeing.  Fill a small pot about 1/2 full of water-  enough to almost cover the wool, and heat to a high simmer. Add vinegar:  2 tablespoons of white vinegar per sheet, to the water, then add the wool felt sheets. If you crinkle them up a bit, the dye will take in a more random pattern. If you want to have a more even dyeing, be sure the pot is large enough for the wool felt to be completely submerged and lying fairly flat.  Sprinkle the KoolAid over the surface of the wool, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the water is clear. 

Rinse well in warm water and lay flat to dry. Iron a low steam setting, if desired, to really smooth out the felt for future crafts.

squares of white or ecru wool felt
various colors, unsweetened KoolAid 

(you definitely don't want the type that has the sugar already added!)
white vinegar
small bowls and spoons
plastic sheet for protecting work surface

Time for the project:
soaking- 15 minutes
dyeing- 5 minutes

fixing the dyes: 15-20 minutes

Age suggestion:
3+ with assistance
7+ on own
, with help using the stove

We used National Non Wovens 100%wool felt for this project.
You can use any 100% wool felt available at some of these wonderful suppliers:

Note: you can also dye using food coloring, or cake decorating coloring. they all work on the same principles : all as acid dyes. It is nice that they are food grade- so you can just use your everyday pots from the kitchen. I wrote an article on dyeing wool yarn with food coloring  for Living Crafts Magazine, in the Fall 2009  Issue. 



  1. I would love to win a set like this. I'd like to try your technique, and it would be nice to have a great set of wool felt to work with until I do it myself. Thanks! jude

  2. It is so creativ and interesting!
    Colours are amazing!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your technique with us. The results are beautiful!
    Will have to try this.

    Definitly would be wonderful to win.

  4. Great idea. Thanks for sharing. I will certainly try this. Wool is so fun to work with.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this project. What beautiful colors are possible. They look so yummy. I have never dyed wool but am definitely ready now. Great tutorial.

  6. This is absolutely AWESOME! I teach kids sewing so am always looking for great new projects - this is a keeper!!! You didn't mention using food coloring (liquid/paste) - do you just add it to the water or do you smear it on the sheets before steaming? Can't wait to experiment!
    Thanks for sharing your talent and expertise!

  7. I love these colors and will definitely try this.
    Thank you for posting this.
    Media Witten

  8. This would be great to show my sewing group.

  9. What a wonderful lesson! I have a large felted piece of white wool just 'dying' to try this idea! Thanks so much

  10. Wow! Love it! I teach a 'homeschool' sewing group and the kids would love this!


  11. pam harris harrispam7@sympatico.caDecember 30, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    hi, I recently bought some koolaid to try to dye some cotton. I was also thinking of trying other ideas like beet juice, onion skins( my mom used to use these on easter eggs) . thanks for the inspiration. pam

  12. This looks like fun - I'll have to try it out! Thank you for the giveaway!

  13. Thanks so much for all your comments!
    You definitely can use food coloring or cake decorating pastes to create these colors also. They also work as acid dyes. All of these work best on protein fibers-wools or silks fibers, yarns, or cloth. Cotton is a celluose fiber and needs a different dyeing process to have the dye "fix" to the cloth. Meaning it is will not fade when washed or exposed to light. There are lots of great kitchen dyestuffs too- turmeric, onion skins, dried pomegranate skin, tea, coffee, fresh herbs like marjoram...These all have enough natural tannins to fix the color in both protein and cellulose fibers....sounds like another post coming up! I love dyeing! thanks again for coming by! Fiona

  14. What fun!! I wonder whether toothpicks would be a fun tool to use with icing dye...kind of like a stylus?
    Happy New Year!!

  15. This really looks like fun for the granddaughters!

  16. Thanks for the tutorial and what fun to do!
    I would love to win this prize - it would open up a whole new window of excitement for me.

  17. Thanks so much for your comments- Joyce in Nevada is the winner! Joyce- email me with your address and I'll mail your package from California on January 5th, when I'm there for the TNNA show.
    I'll be hosting a giveaway once a month through 2011 for all sorts of fiber goodness- please stop by!
    Happy New Year!

  18. Really cool. i will try it soon.