Introduction: DIY Marbled Fabric

About: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and likes to be in the centre of things, so you will see him in several of my instruc…

I was browsing Pinterest one day and came across instructions on how to dye paper to create a marbled effect. (You can find it here). The paper looked gorgeous and I was curious to see whether the same technique could be applied to fabric. In this instructable I will show you how I "marbled dyed" some fabric and a pair of canvas shoes.

Step 1: What You Will Need

  • Shaving foam
  • *Liquid fabric dye/paint
  • Fabric you wish to dye (natural fibres work best ie. cotton)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Plastic sheet/garbage bag
  • Paper towel
  • Tooth pick, Popcicle stick or stirrer of some sort
For dyeing shoes, same as above, plus:
  • Painters tape
  • Tissue paper (for stuffing the shoes)
  • More plastic, from a shopping bag, something a bit firmer
  • Scissors
*As you can see from my photo, I used Rit dye in powdered form since I didn't have any other fabric paint/dye at home to use.  What I did with the Rit powder was combined roughly 1:2 powder to hot water (twice as much water than powder), mixed well and used right away.

Step 2: Prepare Foam

  • Lay out a plastic sheet (or garbage bag) on your work surface -to protect it and make clean up easier. 
  • I put the foam directly onto the plastic sheet (you could use a cookie sheet but you probably shouldn't use it with food again -see safety information for your fabric dye/paint). 
  • I covered an area roughly the same size as the material I wanted to dye. 
  • Using your hands or the straight edge of a piece of cardboard spread out the foam to an even thickness, making sure the whole area is covered.

Step 3: Add Dye

  • Now is a good time to put your gloves on.
  • Drop the fabric dye(s) evenly along the surface of the foam, add several colours if you would like.  I used predominately purple (RIT purple 13) and a bit of blue (RIT Evening Blue 27). 
  • Take your Popsicle stick/ tooth pick and run it through the foam spreading the colours around.  You can stir to make swirls and lines with the stick or take a more random approach -which is kind of what I did. 
  • When you are satisfied with it and most of the foam is covered in colour we can move on to the next step.

  • It is hard to tell how it will turn out, so experiment first with a small patch of foam and bit of fabric -it can be a lot fun to try different things.
  • Be careful too when blending colours, when complementary come together it turns brown.
  • The dye on the foam can only be used once (when you pull off the fabric -it takes much of the foam with it) so make sure the area is enough to cover the whole piece.
  • This works best with smaller pieces of fabric, the larger it is the more difficult it is to get good dye coverage.

Step 4: Apply Fabric

Refer to your fabric paint/dye instructions on how to prepare the fabric.  The RIT dye I used said to wash and apply the dye when the fabric is wet.
  • Lay your fabric flat onto the coloured foam. 
  • Pat down the fabric with your hand so that it makes good contact with the foam along the entire surface. 
  • Once you feel that all of the fabric is in contact with the foam you can pull it off by grabbing an edge of the fabric and peeling it back.  You will likely take much of the foam with you -that's okay. 
  • With a paper towel blot the foam, this also helps spread the dyed foam around to areas that didn't get covered.

Step 5: Set

Refer to your fabric paint/dye instructions to determine how long the dye needs to set.  I followed the instructions for RIT spot dying which recommended letting it set for about 20 minutes.  I then washed the fabric in cold water as per directions.  Again if you are using a different paint/dye follow those instructions.

Step 6: Shoes Version: Prepare the Shoes

Marble dying a pair of shoes is done much the same way as a piece of fabric. Though it does needs a bit of tweaking to deal with the shape of the shoe.  But first things first:
  • we need to remove the laces and cover the plastic rims. Painters tape works well at covering the rims and holds up well during the rinse in step 9.  Make sure it is all covered including the lip where the canvas and plastic come together.
  •  I also stuffed the insides of the shoe with tissue paper (pulling the tongue out) to create a firm surface for when we dye.
  •  I wet the canvas of the shoes before dyeing (as per RIT dying instructions). 

Step 7: Shoes Version: Prepare the Foam

This is where things are a bit different, instead of dispencing the foam onto the plastic sheet, it will be applied to shoe shaped pieces of plastic which will be placed on the shoe.
  • I used a plastic shopping bag and cut out 6 pieces (3 for each shoe).  Two of the pieces are longer and will cover the left and right sides of the shoe and the third fits over the tongue of the shoe.
  • I covered each piece of plastic with foam and spread it out evenly as in step 2 above.
  • Next I dropped the dye onto the foam and swirled it around making sure everything is covered.

Step 8: Shoes Version: Dyeing the Shoes

  • Place the plastic pieces onto the shoe with the foam against the canvas. 
  • Pull out the shoes' tongue to place the third piece onto it. 
  • Pat down the plastic to make sure the shoe makes good contact with the foam.
  • Once you are sure the shoes' fabric is well covered, peel off the plastic.
  • Blot the foam with a paper towel, this also helps spread the dyed foam around to areas that didn't get covered.

Step 9: Shoes Version: Rinse and Dry

  • After about 20 minutes to allow the dye to set, I rinsed in cold water.
  • Peel off the tape and let dry.
Print & Dye Contest

Second Prize in the
Print & Dye Contest