I love making toys for my two daughters from pure wool felt. My favourite felt is the hand dyed kind. It feels softer and thicker than the machine dyed wool felt. I also like the colour variations that occur in a piece of hand dyed felt. However, I am not such a big fan of the price of hand dyed felt. It is hideously expensive. Especially when you can easily dye it yourself for a fraction of the cost. All you need is some felt, dye, a bucket, vinegar and hot water.
I buy my wool felt in bulk from Morningstar Crafts or Winterwood. I get my dyes from Winterwood. These dyes need you to add paint powder which they also sell and salt or Lectric Soda which you can get from the laundry aisle at the supermarket. At a pinch I have also used the dyes they sell at fabric shops.
Over the last six years I have done lots of dyeing of silk, muslin and wool but do not really know what all the ingredients do. I do know that I often do not use the paint powder. I cannot vouch for the colour fastness of the dyes as I do not need to wash the things I make.
Hand Dyed Felt
1 tbsp dye
1 tbsp paint powder
1tbsp lectric soda
Cut your wool felt to desired size. This recipe makes lots of dye so think about what else you could add to the dye bucket. Muslin is great for play cloths. Wool for knitting could also go in. Or get together with a friend to share costs and dye baths.
Put 1 tablespoon of dye into the bucket. It is best to get a metal spoon from the op shop to use especially for your dyeing. Add the paint powder and Lectric Soda.
Boil the kettle and add enough boiling water to the bucket to dissolve your powders. Give it a stir with your spoon to make sure it is all dissolved.
Top the bucket up with very hot water from the tap until approximately 2 litres full. If you are doing lots of wool, add more.
Wet your felt in very hot water, then add it to the bucket. Poke it down into the dye bath with your spoon. The longer you leave it in the dye, the stronger the colour will be.
When you are happy with the colour, remove the wool felt from the dye bath and wring out the excess moisture. Pop it into a plastic bag and leave somewhere warm for a few hours.
Rinse your wool in very hot tsp water until the water runs clear.
Next, add some vinegar to a bucket and top up with warm tap water. Dunk in your felt and wash well. The vinegar helps to set the dye and make it colour fast.
Rinse your felt and hang on the line to dry.