Photo above: Mohair samples before and after dyeing – These have been dyed with different colors of Kool-Aid – They were dyed with (left) strawberry, blue raspberry and a small amount of grape, (middle) cherry and orange, and (right) strawberry
I have been doing some Kool-Aid dyeing lately and really love it. The process is fast and easy and the colors are yummy. The food dyes used in Kool-Aid are protein dyes, so they dye wools, mohair, and silk well. The cotton backings of the mohair do not take much dye, so if you are dying a white fabric with strawbery dye, for example, the resulting pink-dyed mohair may have a whitish or a slight pink backing.
- Mohair – fabric rectangle, cut pattern pieces, or cut and sewn pattern pieces
- White vinegar
- Casserole or microwave-safe bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Rubber gloves
- Plastic Wrap
- Paper towls
- Plastic drop cloth – optional
Please note – any containers and utensils used with dyes, even Kool-Aid should not be used for food. Fabrics or yarns may also have chemicals that shouldn’t be ingested.
Here are the steps I take to do the dyeing for smallish bears, 10″ tall and less.
1. Lay plastic wrap on counter. I also cover floor with plastic drop cloth to protect it from dye.
2. Prepare the mohair:
A. Piece of uncut mohair large enough for all pattern pieces – You can dye enough yardage for your project by laying out the pattern pieces on the mohair, then cutting out a shape that is big enough to incorporate all the pieces.
B. Cut out mohair pattern pieces – You can cut out the individual pieces for the pattern and dye them.
C. Sewn but unstuffed mohair pattern pieces – You can cut out and sew – but don’t stuff before dyeing! - the individual pieces for the pattern and then dye them. This will give the seams a little extra darkness which can be nice.
2. Fill a large microwave-safe bowl with hot water. I use a casserole.
3. Put the mohair fabric or cut pattern pieces into the water. Stir with a spoon, and let the mohair sit a few minutes to absorb the water.
4. Take the mohair out of the water and set aside.
5. Open and pour out 1 to 2 pagkages of Kool-Aid into the water-filled bowl. Stir to distribute dye evenly. I am using one package here because I am only dyeing a few small pieces.
6. Add 2 tbs. to 1/4 c. white vinegar. I used 2 tbs. here because I don’t have a lot of water. Stir.
7. Put the mohair back into the bowl and stir again.
8. Cover casserole with plastic wrap, leaving a small opening to release any steam. Put bowl into microwave and microwave for 2 minutes.
Here is mohair in Koolaid dye bath after dyeing:
9. Take out a piece and check the color. Note – I’m wearing rubber gloves for this.
10. If you want a darker color, repeat the cooking for another 2 minutes. Then check mohair again. I repeat this until I get the desired color. Remember, the mohair will dry a little lighter than it looks wet. Some colors are stronger than others, so the first time you dye with a color, it is good to be conservative with the time, checking often so the color doesn’t get too dark.
11. When mohair is desired color, remove it from bowl and rinse until water is clear. I then wash gently by hand with dish soap or Woolite.
Washing mohair after dyeing:
12. Cover plastic wrap with paper towels and lay mohair on top to dry.
Photo below shows: mohair drying on paper towel – The sewn pieces are a deeper shade because they were beige before dyeing. I also microwaved them twice. The cut pieces were white before dyeing.
I found that the wool felt I used took longer than the mohair to absorb the water well, and also took longer to reach the desired shade.
You do not have to start with a white or cream colored mohair. Medium shades will look beautiful over-dyed, too. You can add more than one color of Kool-Aid into the same dye water in order to expand the range of possible colors. You can also dye a color, then overdye with a different color.
Have fun experimenting!