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Fabric Gradient Dye Tutorial by FireLilyCosplay Fabric Gradient Dye Tutorial by FireLilyCosplay
At last, the long awaited Gradient Dyeing Tutorial! I'm sorry it took so long to make, but here you go!

I've had a lot of practice with this method, and this is the formula that works best for me, so I hope it can help you dye your fabric with ease. Fabric dyeing is actually one of my favorite parts about costuming, so please don't hesitate to ask questions if you have any - I'll be glad to answer them!

Tutorial and all images therein are Copyright Fire Lily and FireLilyCosplay.com.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2011-09-08
Fabric Gradient Dye Tutorial by *FireLilyCosplay Suggesters Words: I personally have struggled with the woes of dying fabric, and I think cosplayers everywhere will agree with me that this is an extremely helpful tutorial. The steps are clear and the results are even more promising. Hats off to *FireLilyCosplay for sharing this with us! ( Suggested by simonsaz3 and Featured by shelldevil )
:iconhidamarinoaya:
HidamariNoAya Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015  Student General Artist
Hello,
What kind of fabric did you use for your cosplays (name wise)? Do you know any fabric that's similar to gabardine fabric that's easy to use for dyeing?
THanks!
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Which costume in particular? I've used quite a lot of fabric. I don't know of any natural fiber fabric close to gabardine suiting. You can try a cotton linen blend in a similar weave to gabardine, or maybe a rayon fabric, or try a polyester specific dye.
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:iconhidamarinoaya:
HidamariNoAya Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2015  Student General Artist
I guess just fabric that's similar to gabardine but can be used to dye since gabardine is a 100% polyester and its not suitable for dyeing :(
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
You can try iDye Poly for polyester fabrics. Or try wool gabardine, but it's pricey and harder to dye since wool shrinks in hot temperatures.

It may be easier to just find a different fabric in the color you need.
Reply
:iconshamsegundo:
Shamsegundo Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2015  New member
How would you replicate this dyeing technique? I have the exact dress but the bottom is white and I want to make the ombre similar to this photo.www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/pre…Lily Collins ombre dress
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
You should probably use dye in spay bottles to get that effect. You'll need to the the dress completely wet and lay it out flat, then spray the dye on and smooth it using a wet sponge.
Reply
:iconpurplewillowtrees:
PurpleWillowTrees Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This could really come in useful if I decided to dip-dye the skirt part for Zelda! ^-^
Reply
:iconwho-the-hell-am-i:
Who-The-Hell-Am-I Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I have to do a red to light green fade. The garment is a kimono and its only green at the bottom and the ends of the sleeves. Would you suggest bleaching my red fabric and then dying the bleached area green, or would you suggest something else?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I would start with white fabric and dye it both red and green. Red fabric won't bleach to a white base so dyeing it green may result in a brown color.
Reply
:iconwho-the-hell-am-i:
Who-The-Hell-Am-I Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Do you have any suggestions on specific ways that I can get the desired fade?
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:iconbluecrownstudios:
BluecrownStudios Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I was JUST wondering how to do this the other day.  Thank you for this great tutorial.  You rock!
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Welcome!
Reply
:iconb18j:
b18j Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Would the same process work for bleaching?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I would assume so, but it depends on what type of fabric you are bleaching (natural fiber vs synthetic).
Reply
:iconfantalover405:
fantalover405 Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
say that you were to take orange fabric and try to use this method with yellow dye.. would this work? or would i have to purchase white fabric and the two different colored dyes.?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Hm, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't think that would work.  You would have to bleach the orange first or remove the color from it, then try the yellow.  Dyeing generally doesn't work well on darker fabrics to lighter dyes.  You could always start with yellow fabric and go to orange.
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:iconlunaticlenny:
LunaticLenny Featured By Owner May 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Would this tutorial also work for satin?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
If the satin is a natural fabric, or if you have polyester dye for polyester fabrics, sure!
Reply
:iconlunaticlenny:
LunaticLenny Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh thank you^^
Reply
:icondangersounds:
DangerSounds Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Could i take a spray bottle of the dye and spray it on the fabric to get a gradient effect too?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Sure!
Reply
:iconlivingvenom:
LivingVenom Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm working on a project in which I need a white-to-pink gradient for a necktie. If I bought a white silk necktie, do you see any reason I would have a problem doing so?
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Nope.  Just follow the dyeing directions for silk fabric.
Reply
:iconlenalee87:
lenalee87 Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I have a question! Is it possible to dye in translucent materials? I'm planning to make Shana from Legend of Dragoon but having problems with her gradient wings :(
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Depends on what you mean by translucent. You cannot dye anything made of plastic - you would have to paint it. If you are using a sheer fabric like organza/organdy/voile, you have to use silk/cotton/rayon/nylon - polyester is hard to dye unless you use polyester dye or ink.
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:iconbyakko9900:
byakko9900 Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013
What about washing costume or clothing pieces afterwards, have you ever had to worry about it dying other clothes? Or do you wash them alone?

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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I haven't ever had a problem washing dyed fabrics. Just make sure it is cold water and hang dry. In general, I recommend only washing costumes by hand anyway.
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:iconzephyros-phoenix:
Zephyros-Phoenix Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Will thread be dyed as well?
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
If it is mostly cotton or silk, yes. Polyester thread will not dye.
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:iconzephyros-phoenix:
Zephyros-Phoenix Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Ok, thanks so much!
Reply
:icongenevievedee:
genevievedee Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I have a question. I need to gradient dye a stretch velvet fabric which is 96% polyester and 4% lycra. It CANNOT be any other fabric. Do you know of any dyes that will work on polyester, and if so, will this gradient tutorial work with that dye and fabric? If not, do you know of any other methods I can use to gradient dye polyester? Thank you!
Reply
:iconever-smiling:
Ever-smiling Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
The only dye I know of that will dye polyester is iDye Poly.  I've used it before and it works really well.  You just HAVE to boil it either on the stove or over a BBQer or fire pit.  I don't know if you can gradient dye poly fabric though.  I'm planning to test that soon.
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I would recommend either iDye Poly (specifically for polyester fabrics) or Jacquard DyeNaFlow (a liquid paint that can be used as a dye). And of course you can always use artist ink or Sharpie inks to spray dye your fabric (use this tutorial: [link]

In any method you choose, I would recommend spraying the dye solution onto the fabric with a spray bottle and achieving your gradient that way - it will be easier to control than dip dyeing it.
Reply
:iconsayashinigami:
SayaShinigami Featured By Owner May 8, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I was wondering how you'd dye a very wide strip of fabric? I tried it once but the color was 'higher' at some places, and lower at others, while I really want the color to be at the same level... Any tips?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner May 8, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Wet the fabric first. Then put it into your dye bath in a large bowl. You will have to agitate or stir it for at least 30 minutes. Then rinse and let dry. I wouldn't recommend using the washing machine method unless you can do a second dye cycle or a rinsing cycle afterward to even the color out.

Make sure you are using enough dye to completely saturate the fabric. At least 1 dry dye packet per 1 yard of fabric.
Reply
:iconsayashinigami:
SayaShinigami Featured By Owner May 10, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'm sorry, I didn't express myself properly. I still want to create a radient effect in the fabric, but it's 0.5 metres high, but 3 metres wide. So even in my biggest tub/bowl I have, I still have to fold the fabric, because I can't fit 3 metres in there :s
Thank you for the help so far though! <3
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner May 10, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Ok. Try spraying the dye on using a spray bottle. You can control the color better and get the exact gradient you want. I would recommend doing this outside on a very non-windy day. Still make sure to wet your fabric beforehand.
Reply
:icontmliza:
TMLiza Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is an awesome tutorial. ^_^ I have one question though. For the dipping part, how long is each dip?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Just follow the directions on the dye box - the dye should sit/soak for roughly 30 minutes for a true color, lesser time for a shade. I tend to concentrate my dye baths so I can do it in about 10 minutes, but it depends on the color you are looking to dye your fabric.
Reply
:icondippywerewolf:
DippyWerewolf Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012   General Artist
Thank you so much! I just dyed fabric for a three-tier skirt (the same one as the person above) and your guide was a huge help.
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Glad it worked out!
Reply
:iconaikalai01:
aikalai01 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
this is a helpful one! thank you! :D
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Very welcome!
Reply
:iconaydengracephoto:
AydenGracePhoto Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Professional Photographer
How would I create a gradient that flows into another color, instead of getting lighter? Like Twilight Princess Zelda.
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I personally would spray the dye with a spray bottle onto wet fabric and smooth out the in-between areas with a sponge.
Reply
:iconaydengracephoto:
AydenGracePhoto Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2012  Professional Photographer
You are a genius. THANK YOU!
Reply
:iconsirfancypantsiv:
SirFancypantsIV Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
For a cosplay I'm making I'll have to dye a whole kimono(the part the bottom is lighter and the whole kimono is darker). Do you know if I can bleach the bottom? Doing like you said in this tutorial, but with bleachthingie and not dye....
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Yes, it would be easiest to use RIT Color Remover to gently remove the color and essentially gradient the kimono. I would recommend 2 Color Remover packs in boiling water.
Reply
:iconsirfancypantsiv:
SirFancypantsIV Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you. I will try. Maybe I won't find just RIT Color remover, But I'll find something else. :)
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