Hand Dyeing Cotton Batting

Categories: Decor, Quilts

Hand dyeing cotton batting allows for custom colors for projects that aren’t quilts. I needed pastel fuchsia faux snow for one project, and pastel turquoise batting for another project. I used American Spirit Classic Cotton Batting, Rit Dye, and a few household items to create pastel batting. Custom colored batting is great for projects where felt is often used, but is softer and natural. I chose a pastel color, but with more dye darker colors can be achieved.

What you need to make this project

American Spirit Classic Cotton Batting in Crib Size
Rit Dye in Fuchsia
Rit Dye in Turquoise
White vinegar
Extremely hot water
Plastic table cloth
Rubber or latex free gloves
Slotted spoon
Old towels

Quick Shop


American Spirit Batting™ Classic Cotton 45″ x 60″


Price: $10.99

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Step One

I like dyeing stuff in a kitchen or bathroom, where there’s easy access to water for rinsing and drains pouring the dye bath out. I used my bathroom. Lay the plastic tablecloth down on the floor, to catch any splashes. This dye bath will be so pale that it’s unlike to dye the floor. Still keep old towels close by in case of big spills and for clean up later.

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Step Two

Fill the bucket about 2/3 full of extremely hot water. You can boil water, but my hot water tank makes scalding hot water. Place the water bucket on the table cloth center. Add a cup of salt and a cup of vinegar to the water bucket. Stir the water with the spoon, until the salt dissolves. The salt helps the dye stay put on natural fabrics. The vinegar and hot water opens the fibers so they will soak up the dye.

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Step Three

For the fuchsia, I needed a cap full of dye. For the turquoise I needed 1 1/2 caps full of dye. For pastel colors. It’s better to add not enough and need to add more later, than too much. Add at least a cap full of your dye color to the dye bath and stir.

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Step Four

Open the cotton batting. Soak it in clean water, making sure it’s as saturated as you can get it. Give it a little squeeze to get out some excess water. It still needs to be wet, but not excessively dripping.

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Step Five

Put on gloves. Open the wet batting. Starting at one corner, insert the wet batting into the dye bath. Full submerge the batting, pressing down with your hands or the spoon. I found it was easier to massage the batting, to make sure it was soaking up the dye evenly. If the color isn’t as dark as desired, lift the batting out of the water, and add a little more dye in half cap increments. Again, it’s easy to add more, but difficult to reduce the color. Like I mentioned, the turquoise needed more dye, so I added that extra 1/2 cap at this point. Reinsert the batting. Continue massaging and stirring the batting. I let the batting sit in the dye bath for about 30 minutes. It soaked up the dye better and quicker than expected.

Step Six

Pour the dye bath down a drain. I used my shower drain, since the tile is black, just in case there was any dye left. I then squeezed the batting out into the tub, where I noticed the excess water was clear. Normally for dyeing, there would be lots of excess dye running out. However, since this dye bath was very diluted and the batting soaked up the dye well, the water was clear. If the excess water is colored, rinse the batting until the water all runs clear.

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Step Seven

Work over a bath tub. Open the batting. Fold it lengthwise 3 times, forming a long rectangle. Starting at the top, twist the batting tightly, to wring out excess water. Continue wring out the excess water until you reach the other end. If this was summer, I’d recommend hanging the batting outside in the sunshine. However, it’s winter and the batting is more likely to freeze right along with you if it’s outside. Fold the batting in half. I hung the pink on a towel rail, with a bath mat under it to catch any drips. I laid the turquoise along my bathtub side. Like a sweater or blanket, this batting might take overnight to air dry. I wasn’t sure how it would hold up in a dryer. For that fold the batting and place inside a sweater bag before machine drying.