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Designing Your Own Wool Fabric – Part I

by Annette Ringeisen

Project Picture

In this project, brought to you by Living Crafts in two parts, Annette Ringeisen, an accomplished fiber artist, and Living Crafts magazine contributor, teaches you how to dye your own wool fabric, needle felt your design, and prepare it for any sewing project you wish. To get to know Annette and her company, Wool Creations, visit

The first part is to dye the fabric with acid dyes, and is sponsored by Jacquard Products, offering a giveaway to die for at the end of this post! Here comes Annette in her own words with Part I:

Here’s my plan:

I’ll start with two yards of woven wool fabric, add a bit of dye and some needle-felting, and end up with a richly colored and beautifully patterned piece that I will sew into a lovely jacket.

I know this won’t be the quickest project I’ve ever dreamed up, and I know that I can sometimes, perhaps, get a little ambitious with an idea and before long find myself knee-deep trying to complete it. As a child I would get big ideas. I’d start them, but then not ever finish the project. But I’ve come a long way since then.

(or so I hope…)

Dyeing the fabric

To start, I’ll need to prepare my fabric by soaking it for 30 minutes in a mix of warm water and a good amount of vinegar. I used 58” Wide Wool Melton Beige Fabric By The Yard by Tuva Textiles often available in fabric stores, but any woven wool fabric will do.  Here’s a close up shot of the fabric before dyeing:

It is important for the fiber to really absorb the liquid so the dye will be taken in easily.

While I wait, I can mix my colors. I’m in the mood for an earthy palate, so I go with yellow, orange, brown, blue, and red.

I follow the directions on the container of the acid dyes from Jacquard Products. Always be sure to use all recommended cautions and follow the directions for best results! Also, as they say on their website, the only acid is the vinegar you use.

I’ve decided to dye my fabric with the low water immersion technique. The outcome is always a bit of a surprise, and I guess I am in the mood for a bit of surprise. I use an old large crock-pot, a perfect fit for all my fabric. Along with the fabric, the warm water and the 2 cups of vinegar, I leave enough space for the dyes to be added. I like to experiment with dye order. Depending on how and in which order the dyes are added, the results can be very different. These pictures show that it can be fun to experiment.

To dye my fabric, I first pour yellow onto one area of the immersed wool and watch it creep along the fabric. The color will be more intense where it first touches and more subdued where the fabric folds. Try to move the fabric as little as possible if you would like more variations of shade, but move it more if you prefer a more uniform saturation. After a few minutes, I add the next color. I have to be patient—my colors will get “dirty” if I add them too soon. When the water is clear, I know my color is absorbed and another color can be added. By the way, as I do all this, my crock-pot is on. The temperature is kept just below boiling, as recommended for the dyes I
am using. This is important for the dyes to set.

Now it is time to let the dye-bath cool down and then to lift out the fabric. I rinse well in water till the water runs clear. I’m eager, but I cannot felt the fabric just yet.

Please stay tuned for Part II on Monday, when you will learn how to design and transfer it onto your fabric. Here’s a peek:


Dye Giveaway Photo

Jacquard Products is sponsoring today’s tutorial, with giving away one complete set, including one each of their 40 colors of acid dyes! This is valued at $175. To enter drawing, please leave a comment on this post by end of the day Monday, January 9th 8:00 p.m. EST.

The winner for this Giveaway by Jacquard Products is Melinda Zinda:

I have always wanted to try dying my own fabrics. The colors are so beautiful. I would love this win!

Posted by Living Crafts on Jan 7, 2011 09:22 PM | 474 Comments

474 Responses to “Designing Your Own Wool Fabric – Part I”

  1. Dawn says:

    This is very inspiring. I’ve used Kool-Aid before but haven’t tried it with the Jacquard Dyes. Very Beautiful! Wool dyed like this would make a beautiful quilt for our spring auction. What a generous gift from Jacquard. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Susan Miller says:

    Was given 10 bags of white washed wool and I believe this will be just the ticket, having a dye party with co-workers and make some special felted cards, rugs, or just whatever!!! Lotsa fun!

  3. margaret says:

    I just love this idea! Patterns, colors and endless possibilities flashed through my mind for crafting fantastic items for my family and home. Thanks so much!

  4. Patti says:

    What amazing colors I would love to win these!

  5. ali says:

    how exciting!

  6. veronica says:

    oh, please, please pick me!! thanks for the tute :)

  7. Fleur de Paix says:

    So interesting… merci !

  8. Kelly Bryant says:

    What an awesome project.

  9. Kelly Paquet says:

    This is a beautiful project!

  10. Lynn D says:

    This would be so fun if a group of us came together to do projects with this . Also to order some of that wonderful looking wool fabric.
    Thank you for showing us.

    Lynn D

  11. Danielle says:

    I love this idea, I’d love to start drying my own stuff.

  12. Jules says:

    It is so inspiring and heartwarming to see that such creativity is alive and well!

  13. Missy Whaley says:

    This looks like a great project. do you know if you can use a slow cooker roaster? Thanks for sharing this creative information that allows some many to try a project they might not of.

  14. Silke Cliatt says:

    This is the most exciting needle-felted fabric I have seen. Personally, I am over the wet felting from scratch – too much!

  15. LV Bags says:

    How cool is that. You can be a superstar to us now!

  16. tiffany keys says:

    Hi and thank you for a nice written blog. I really just love your site. I will bookmark it and come back for more. Sharyn Higgins, UK

  17. Maureen says:

    Love to felt, and love artfelt. Would enjoy the indulgence of playing with so much paper and felt at one time, if I win. Oh the thought of beautiful dreams is rushing through my head.

  18. sylvie says:

    that is just so beautiful !!! I hope I win and experience all those colors with the children of my school. But I will try to make this project any way.

  19. Donna says:

    I have collected so much wool over the past year, telling myself that I will get some dye and learn to experiment and come up with my own beautiful colors, but have never gotten the dyes to do so. I would love to win these dyes, then I would have no excuse not to make the beautiful colors and combinations of colors that I know I would love to use. Thanks

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