Dyeing fabric successfully is a lot more complicated than simply tossing a piece of fabric into a dye bath. It requires a combination of art and science. Let's walk through what I have learned over the last year:
1. Color: Nothing is more fun than choosing the color you want to dye your fabric. You can purchase premixed colors from companies, such as RIT and Procion or if you are like me, I enjoy mixing my own colors based on formulas (sometimes referred to as recipes) to create the exact color desired. As one might expect, the darker the color you want, the more dye that is required.
2. Quantity of fabric: If you are new to dyeing fabric it helps to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on how much dye for your quantity of fabric. You also want to make sure that you use enough water that your fabric can swirl around freely.
3. Salt: I'll spare you the chemistry lesson but suffice it to say that a fair bit of salt is required to drive the dye onto the fiber and out of the solution. Check the dye manufacturer's directions. NOTE: Salt does not actually fix or set the color; that is a separate process required after the fabric is dyed.
4. Water temperature: This variable is challenging to get right.; it just takes practice. Most dye companies recommend water that is a little hotter than what comes out of your household tap, but personally I prefer to use boiling water.
5. Time: No matter what the manufacturer recommends for the length of time the fabric should be in a dye bath, they also tell you this is a guideline. Keep a watchful eye on your fabric and determine when it has enough color saturation. When I am dyeing a piece of fabric that is smaller than the recipe specifies, I sometimes shorten the bath time; if the fabric is larger than the recipe calls for, I tend to leave in a bit longer.
Good luck experimenting with color!