Dyeing to Dye Venice Lace

Andrea Blodgett © 2004

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 Several years ago I met a lady at a class with a box filled with lovely dyed laces and knew then that I was dyeing to dye Venice lace. Gwen Frasier and her Kool-Aid© lace was my inspiration. Since then I have developed my own technique and my own style through trial and error. Believe me, there were a lot of errors that are now covered with beads, silk ribbon, buttons and the like. A mistake is God’s way of making an opportunity for us to be creative.

Creating Samples:

Whenever I get a new dye I always prepare a test sample so I can see the end result before I actually use it on a good piece. There is nothing worse than expecting a bright color and ending up with a muted hue on that last special piece of lace. To make a test piece, take a 3” scrap of cheap 100% cotton lace for each dye, wet the lace, squeeze it out and then dip it in the dye. Keep the bottles in the same order as the test samples so they can be labeled later with the brand, color name and any changes that are made, such as adding water. All test samples are micro waved for 20 sec or they can be ironed to set the color. When dry the samples are taped to a sheet of paper with the name of the dye and any changes.


Always dye in the kitchen. If a spillage occurs it can be easily and quickly cleaned up. On the kitchen table or counter, place a piece of wax paper and then a double layer of paper towels. The wax paper protects the counter top and the paper towels absorb the dyes and help to control where they go on the lace. Wear an old apron that covers the front of your clothes.

Tools and supplies:

  • Small plastic dog food containers to mix dyes, or glass custard cups
  • Large (about 2 cups) container of water to clean brushes
  • Small cup of clean water to dilute dyes
  • Pipette or eye dropper to measure water for diluting dyes
  • #3 and #1 Round brushes (The smaller the brush number the finer the brush)
  • Selection of dyes in various colors and brand names, all water based. (see source list for a few of the dyes available)


All over color:

Wet the entire piece of lace and squeeze it out so it is just damp. Then, dip the piece in the dye, squeeze it out and set the dye by ironing the piece or microwaving it for 20 sec. An example of this type of dyeing can be seen in “Center color”. As long as the colors are water based they can be diluted with water or mixed.

Different colors on one piece of lace:

  1. With a fine paintbrush, completely wet only the area to be dyed with water.

  2. With the same paintbrush apply the dye color to only the area you have wet, it will bleed a little into the dry area. The first place the brush touches will dye the darkest because the fabric sucks the color into it by capillary action. Therefore the point furthest from the brush will be the lightest in hue. In #2 Ribbonsmyth© antique gold mixed with Ozecraft© Persian gold was used to dye only the two outside rings of the heart. Rinse the brush in clear water.

  3.  Set the color by iron or in the microwave for 20 seconds on High setting.

Proceed with steps 1-3 for each color until the lace is dyed to your satisfaction. In #3 Sara’s Bloom© orange was added to the outside ring of the heart. In Final Ribbonsmyth© English blue mixed with Colorprint Retouch Color© Primary blue was added to the center.

After each dyeing it is critical to heat the lace between dyeing or else the wet colors will mix together. Notice that the blue in the center of Final heart is much lighter than the all over in Center Color heart. That is because it was dyed over the already set pale yellow from a previous dyeing. To get this effect it is important that you start dyeing with the warmest lightest color and work towards the cool dark colors.

If the color is not dark enough to suit you go through steps 1-3 again with the same color in the same area. (see photo) Dyes will always bleed a little into one another and that is what makes these laces look so delicate.
Once you are finished with the initial dyeing you can make changes. (see photo ) Final A had the outside edge WET with water and undiluted orange applied, which resulted in a bright contrast between the center and the outside edge.  However Final B had a diluted orange applied to the DRY outside edge of the lace, resulting in muted colors that retained the yellow cast.
Accent color:

Accent color is applied after all the white areas of the lace have been dyed. Accent color is applied to dry lace. This will produce a very intense color as seen in the leaf veins or on the petal edges of the large rose.

Larger pieces of Venice lace can be cut into smaller segments and dyed. These same dyes can also be used to create just the right color ribbon, yarn or fabric you need for that special block. I hope you will have fun playing with dyes and experimenting with new color combinations and techniques. By now I hope you too are Dyeing to dye Venice Lace.


Ozecraft dyes http://www.ozecraft.com 

Ozecraft dyes http://www.lisasheaven.com 

Ribbonsmyth dyes http://www.ribbonsmyth.com 

Sara’s Bloom dyes http://www.sarasbloom.com 

Colorhue dyes http://www.silkthings.com 

Colorprint Retouch Color© is a retouching dye for coloring black and white photographs, which my husband gave to me. I have not been able to find it available anywhere.

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