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
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
Tools and supplies:
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
- 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:
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:
With a fine paintbrush, completely wet only the area to
be dyed with water.
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.
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.
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.
Sara’s Bloom dyes
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.