Rust Dyeing for Novices

You may remember that I awarded my judges choice ribbon at the Evergreen Quilt Show to Kim Frisk’s quilt – “Wherever the Wind Blows”, which was made with rust dyed fabric (click here to read about it!).

tea-dye-map-quilt-Kim-Frisk

I mentioned that I wanted to give rust dyeing a try – and I did! I watched a few Youtube videos, hunted for some rusty stuff, gathered up the supplies – and found it to be easy and fun. I’ve never been into fabric creating – I’d rather buy from others who are good at it, but I enjoyed this so much – I did it twice!

The first effort yielded 4 fat quarters of rust dyed fabric. The two in the center were done with steel wool. The one on the left had nails and screws scattered across it, and the piece on the right was twisted and wrapped around a rusty horseshoe:

rust dyed fabric

Would you like to try it? If not, scroll down to see the other pieces. If so, read on 🙂 !

You’ll need fabric, vinegar, rusty stuff (or steel wool, which worked great and started out “not rusty”), rubber gloves, plastic bags, water and salt. Here’s the basics (google “rust dyeing” for more specific instructions):

  1. Soak fabric in vinegar and wring out.
  2. Tear open a large plastic bag and lay the fabric on it (manipulate if you like).
  3. Put on gloves and arrange rusty items on top. If using steel wool – pull apart and spread across the fabric, then put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray away.
  4. Cover with more plastic, or another piece of fabric, and then more plastic. It should be wrapped in plastic to keep the warmth in, but loosely enough to allow air to get in and cause the rust to form.
  5. Leave in a warm place for at least 12 hours (it was recommended not more than 72 – I got great results in 24)
  6. When done, fill a 5 gallon pail with 4 gallons of water and dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in the water. Rinse items in the salt bath and then rinse with more water.
  7. Hang out to dry, iron and enjoy!

The steel wool pieces in the picture above were made like a plastic/fabric/steel wool/fabric/plastic sandwich, that then rolled up jelly roll style. After my first attempt, I read that putting bags of rice/beans on top of the plastic will help hold things closer to the rust.

A few days later the Fiberistas met at my home to join in the fun. We gathered our buckets of rusty stuff and headed to Mike’s shed (wish I’d remembered to take pictures  😥 ). This time I decided to put a piece of plastic in the bottom of a bin. I layered these pieces, with rusty stuff between, on top of each other, and covered the pile with plastic and weight bags (the rusty stuff used is listed beneath each photo):

rusty-nails,washers,star,chain, steel-wool

Nails, washers, a star, steel wool in patches, and a heavy chain that gave the look of a tire tread!

 

rusty-metal-sheet,-nails

Pieces of rusty sheet metal and nails.

 

rust dyed fabric

A doily given to me by Barb. This one was at the bottom of the pile!

I did one additional piece that night, using a chunk of rusty chicken wire. I started with a yard of fabric and folded it in half with the chicken wire in between. This was weighted down with a bag of top soil (remember – we were in the barn  🙂 ).

rust-chicken-wire

I think it’s my favorite. Wouldn’t it make a great honey bee quilt?

Have you done any rust dyeing? Please send pictures of any exciting pieces you’ve made. I’ll share pictures of the other pieces made that night in a future post.


4 Opinions

  • Louise said:

    Two of our members of Tosa Quilters presented to the group. I have not tried it at home but I do have the steel wool. I love the star above. A whole bunch of stars would make beautiful fabric.

    Reply
  • Norma Klimpke said:

    I have enjoyed working with rust dyeing and it is lots of fun. I took a class and read Lois Jarvis information on rust dyeing.
    Have you heard anything on Lois Jarvis as she has been ill.
    she did lots of rust dyeing.

    Reply
    • clkquilt admin

      Lois was a fantastic rust dyer. Her husband gives occasional updates on Facebook, and she is no longer able to quilt or correspond on Facebook. She has been a dear friend of mine for many years, and I keep her in my prayers.

      Reply
  • Joanne admin

    I really liked the result. Very interesting.

    Reply

Share opinions

*

*


You may use these HTML tags and attributes to empatize your opinion:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>