Basics of dyeing

Dyeing is not allowed (and cannot be done) without learning the basics of dyeing, its methods and recipes. On the following pages, you will find instructions for dyeing by hand and by machine, as well as the recipe for Dylon direct dyes. You will learn how to work safely in the Occupational Safety section.


  • Read the facility-specific occupational safety instructions and remember to protect yourself appropriately.
  • Select the method and materials in accordance with your project.
  • If you are unsure about the use of a specific chemical, contact the workshop master.

1. Dyeable materials

In principle, it is possible to dye natural fibres by hand. Natural fibres are divided into cellulose fibres and protein fibres. Synthetic fibres can be dyed safely in industrial settings. Blended fabrics usually absorb some dye, depending on the ratio of fibres. You can dye polyamide, nylon and elastane with direct and reactive dyes.

In addition to fibres, the fabric’s structure and finishings affect its colour fastness and tones. When dyeing ready-made garments, the dye does not usually adhere to the stitching as the yarn is made of polyester.


Cellulose fibres: cotton, flax, hemp, jute, ramie, sisal, manila, coir or coconut fibre and kapok.

Regenerated cellulose fibers: viscose, modal, Cupro and Lyocell.

Protein fibres: silk and wool.


Fibres that hold colour: polyamide, elastane and nylon.

Fibres requiring industrial dyeing: polyester, polyacrylic, modacrylic, chlorofibre and polypropene.