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How to Dye Macrame Cord: A Comprehensive Guide

Macrame cord is a super versatile material that's used for many different types of DIY crafting projects and home décor pieces. From wall art to plant hangers, and so much more in between, the variety of projects made from macrame cord is awesome. It comes in a wide range of textures, thicknesses, and colors, but there are some other reasons why it's so often used in crafting.

Macrame cord is a common crafting material partly because it's generally easy to find at your local store or online. But, it's also popular because macrame cord is easy to work with and the colors can be transformed into something wonderful and unique quite easily through dying.

An aspiring crafter new to working with this material might ask how to dye macrame cord in order to get a specific look to their project, regardless of what kind of cord they're starting with. This article aims to help give you an idea of how to go about personalizing the look of your macrame project through the use of dyes and other coloring agents. So, let’s get started.

What Macrame Cord Should I Use?

If you don't have any personal preferences, cotton macrame cord is the most suitable option for most applications. The reason that cotton macrame cord is recommended is that cotton is very easy to dye.

Cotton can soak up dye very easily, and it can hold on to the hue over time as well. It's also a pretty efficient material to use as it can be colored with less dye than some of the other popular macrame materials.

Unless you have a particular material in mind that you'd like to use for your macrame project, then cotton is the best way to go. The methods for dyeing macrame cord remain primarily the same other than some differences in the amount of dye used.

It's also recommended that you use white or natural colored macrame cord as it's easier to get the color to take, and the final outcome is easier to anticipate. If you do want to use colored cord, then you'll need to use darker shades of dye to color it, somewhat limiting your choice. And, the final outcome is a little harder to predict.

Some people, however, do like to start with a specific colored cord base and blend that with a dye to achieve something they can't find in just a dye alone. Mixing two dye colors can give you similar results, just be very careful not to mix too much and create an overly saturated, muddy color.

What Type of Dye Should I Use to color macrame cord?

You have a lot of freedom and options regarding the choice of dye that you use. You can use anything from tea and coffee to nut shells and vegetables if you want to stick with a specifically natural dyeing process.

Cotton macrame cord dyed with natural teas, coffee, or vegetable based dyes can produce some beautiful projects that are stunning to look at, often less expensive, and possibly much better for the environment as well. Even if you do tend to use synthetic dyes for your projects, give this option a try at least once to see what you think.

And of course, you can also use acrylic paints and many other types of synthetic dyes. But, for the most part, especially if you're just starting out with macrame cord dyeing, an easy option is to use store-bought RIT all-purpose dye. RIT is a solid choice of dye to use if you’re using cotton macrame cord as those natural fibers really like to soak up the color. Also, RIT is affordable and comes in a variety of different colors.

Another alternative is using Procion dye. Procion dye is a cold water dye, which is fixed chemically instead of with the help of heat. This type of dye works especially well for immersive dyeing.

What Preparations Should I Take when dyeing macrame cord?

Before you can go about dyeing your macrame cord, there are some precautions you should keep in mind. For instance:

  • If you're working on a table or any other space that you don't want messed up, make sure to cover it with plastic to prevent any dye from being spilled and ruining it.
  • Before dyeing, make sure you wash the macrame cord. Dye does not mix well with dust and dirt that may be present in your macrame cord from the factory or store. The most effective way to wash it is to place the cord in a dish or pot of hot water mixed with a small amount of soap. Immerse it, and then after about an hour rinse it well. Take it out and let it dry. You'll end up with a much more even and satisfying result.
  • Make sure to wear rubber gloves during the dyeing process.

IMPORTANT!

While we're providing some steps and info for general use dyeing, it's very important that you follow manufacturer's instructions. We hope to help you with your crafting projects, but use common sense and be safe. We're not responsible for ruined clothes, broken washing machines, and dyed children.

What Methods Are There for Dyeing Macrame Cord?

Several methods can be used for dyeing macrame cord. Generally, all of them will provide suitable results and will differ depending on what dye they work best with. Some of the most popular methods are:

Stove-Top Method

This method requires a stove big enough so that you can fully immerse the cord in it and move it around in the dye water. It generally works best with RIT all-purpose dye since this method uses hot water. The steps are:

  • Fill a pot large enough to submerge your macrame cord with water.
  • Begin heating the water. Make sure it does not reach a full boil. When it starts just simmering, add the dye or combination of dyes to get your desired color.
  • To make sure that the dye sets well and that the cord holds the color over time, add salt to the mixture (up to a cup depending on how much dye you use).
  • Slowly drop the macrame cord into the pot and immerse it using a wooden spoon or something similar.
  • Use the wooden spoon to mix the dye with the cord and let it remain there for 10 minutes.
  • Finally, take the cord out and rinse it with cold water until it runs clear. Then let it dry on a clothesline or somewhere safe from dirt, etc.

Bucket or Bin Method

This method utilizes cold dyes, such as Procion dye. You will also need to use a large bucket or bin for this method. This method can take longer, but it's possible to dye larger batches as well. The steps are:

  • Prepare a clean bucket with a large amount of cold water. Make sure it is enough to submerge the cord completely.
  • Add the required dye to the cold water.
  • Add salt to help maintain the color.
  • Finally, slowly immerse the macrame cord you want to color.
  • You will need to continuously stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. On average, this method takes up to 40 minutes for the cords to be suitably dyed. If you want a darker shade, then it is recommended to wait an hour.
  • After the cords have been dyed, take them out and rinse them with cold water.
  • Leave them to dry.

Washing Machine Method

This method utilizes hot water, so RIT dyes tend to be more appropriate in this application. It's a very easy-to-use method, but one should be aware that dye residue in the washing machine can discolor your favorite t-shirts or clothes if you don't rinse the machine very thoroughly. So, after dyeing your macrame cord, make sure to remove the dye entirely. The steps are:

  •  Set the heat to the highest setting on your machine, and fill the washer with water.
  • Add the required dye to the washer.
  • Add the macrame cord to the washer and close the washing machine.
  • Let the machine run for the full wash cycle.
  • Check to see that the dyed cord runs clear when rinsed in water. Otherwise, run another rinse cycle.
  • Remove the cord and let it dry.
  • Clean your washing machine to prevent the residue dye from staining your clothes.

Conclusion

Dyeing macrame cord is easier than you might think. The first time you dye a batch of macrame cord, fabric, or anything for that matter, it's a bit scary. But, each time you go through the process, it gets easier. Also, you'll find the methods and tricks that work best for you and your situation by actually doing it. Experiment. Make something beautiful, and have fun!

Hopefully, this article has convinced you and encouraged you to make something wonderful for your home or for someone else...or both!

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