So the gorgeous Pinterest pictures have talked you into it (I hear them too!) and you are ready to dye some doilies. Here’s how to do it:
1. Purchase Doilies:
Buy your doilies. A lot of them. With dyed doilies, getting a wide range of shades is pretty much unavoidable. You can get an idea of the kind of variation I’m talking about in the photo below–where you’ll also get a good idea about how to make a doily bow, or a doily puff (though this doily bow in particular is actually destined for a fabulous letter wreath–where the variety in shading looks gorgeous in the finished product)–but more tutorials later…
If that kind of variation is undesirable to you, be sure to use consistent heat and soaking times and dye much more than you need so you can pick and choose doilies that reach your desired shade.
When shopping for doilies, I found the best method was to first decide on the size I wanted, then do an Amazon search for that particular size. I picked out a pattern I liked with the help of those results. But before loading up your cart, do a separate search for the brand and pattern. That’s how I found a huge box of doilies that didn’t show up in search results any other way. I was able to score 1000 lovely Cambridge Hoffmaster 5” doilies for $12.41, with free shipping. We used 5-600 for my daughter’s birthday party just on doily bunting and door décor. And I still have a pile left over to feed my newfound doily addiction. Hoorah!
2. Purchase Rit Dye:
Pick out some Rit dye colors. When you are ready to purchase, you really want to purchase your dye locally. Wal-mart has a good selection of Rit dye for around $3 each, though they may only have liquid, like my Wal-Mart did. That’s fine because the liquid works great. I have very limited experience with Rit dye, but here are a couple of color tips: Royal blue is lovely, but dyed/dried it leaves marks on your hands, and therefore your baby might slowly get a Smurfy look after handling her. Not that I’ve experienced that problem, or anything ;). Also, the Kelly Green ended up being more of a blue-green. I solved this by adding just a little bit of yellow, and it got me much closer to my desired shade. Lesson: if you want a kelly green doily, pick up a bit of yellow dye at the store as well.
3. Separate doilies:
Grab a stack of doilies and start separating them into single layer. Put them in stacks of 10. If you run into a stubbornly close-knit pair, instead of picking them apart at the edges, try putting your thumb and middle finger on opposite sides of the center of the doilies and rubbing to separate. It helps.
4. Heat water:
Pick a saucepan that is not much wider than the size of your doilies. Fill with 2-3” of water, and heat water. You don’t want it to boil, but you want it to be hot. You can leave it on the heat as you dye, or periodically heat the water up again. Your doilies will accept the dye much better with hot water.
5. Add dye:
Add your dye to the water until you achieve your desired color. Remember that your doilies’ color will deepen with time soaking in the dye. How much dye you add to your water will depend on the Rit dye colors you have chosen and the color saturation you want. I needed a lot more yellow dye than Royal Blue or Kelly Green (about 70% of the bottle vs. 30-40%). You may have to add more dye and/or more water as you progress with your dyeing.
Before you jump in with a full batch, test dye one doily, submerging it in the dye and leaving it for five minutes. Remove with tongs. Adjust your dye if necessary.
Add one doily at a time to the water, placing it gently on the surface of the water, and then gently poking it with your tongs to cover the surface with dye without allowing your doily to fold. Work as quickly as you can, adding the rest of your stack of 10 doilies to the water. As tempting as it is, you can’t put the entire stack in at once. You’ll get big un-dyed spots in the middle and an overall tie-dyed look. Let your batch absorb the dye for five minutes, but not more—you don’t want your doilies to disintegrate.
Have your drying area ready. If your baker’s racks aren’t otherwise occupied with cupcake recipe trials like ours were, they will work great (just be sure to protect the surface beneath from dripping dye). We simply cut open garbage bags and laid our stacks on top. For faster drying, put a stack of paper towels beneath the doilies and/or let your doilies dry in the sun.
Remove the entire stack of doilies at once with your tongs, letting excess dye drip back into the saucepan and transporting the stack (hovered over a plate) to your drying area. Don’t worry about separating the doilies. They’ll dry, albeit slowly in the stack. As you place it on your drying surface, you’ll want to avoid folds, but wrinkles or minor bunching will iron out. Fiddle too much with wet doilies and they will tear.
For really good-looking doilies, you don’t want to skip this step. It makes a big difference. A low temperature works well. Remember to protect your ironing board from dye, and wipe down the surface of your iron after you finish—did I mention that the blue dye gets all over everything?
Aren’t they gorgeous? Aren’t you the most talented little mini-Martha on the planet? You are! Now what will you do with them? Sew them into bunting? Fold them over treat bags? Make a fabulous wreath? The world is your oyster! Enjoy!
Questions? Suggestions? Comment below!