Rose's Quilting Blog

How To Remove Dye Runs in Your Quilt

How To Remove Dye Runs in Your Quilt

I am wishing to ask you all today, just what you would do if after you had spent time planning, buying fabric, cutting, sewing and falling in love with your new master piece, and on its first washing it had a couple of 

"Major Dye Runs"

This happened to me when I had finished my “A Caterpillars Dream” quilt, after having spent 2 years and 8 months of working on the one quilt.

I needed to wash the quilt to remove all the blue wash away markings that I had used throughout this quilt.

The evening before I was to wash this quilt, I had wet a piece of white cloth, and I went over these most beautiful “Hand Dyed” fabrics just to make sure that the colour was holding and would not run.

When I purchase new material, it always goes straight into the laundry, to be washed and treated, before it ever goes anywhere near the sewing room.

I would gently rub this wet piece of fabric over each of the hand dyed pieces and then check the white fabric after each rub. It would show clean with no colour on it all.

Feeling comfortable with this, I quickly made my way around the whole quilt. When almost at the end of these fabrics, I happened to glance back over the area that I had first started checking, and yes you will have guessed it, to my absolute horror, a very deep pink /red fabric had definitely run.

I now had a rather large pink area on the lemon fabric.

 It was a moment of total disbelief……………..


What was I to do?

After a few minutes of thinking, I had it.

I would ring Mariya Waters and ask her.

I rang Mariya, and I can still very clearly remember our conversation, she was in the middle of cooking their evening meal.

Mariya gave me the name of a product that I could buy at the supermarket.

She also advised me the same thing that I am going to tell you here as a disclaimer:

“If you use this or a similar product, it will be at your own risk, and I take no responsibility to anything that may happen while or after the use of this product”.

On saying the above, I always use this for every quilt that I wash, and I wash my quilts many times.

I find that a lot of people are quite horrified about the fact that I wash my quilts, but I always say, “At the end of the day, it is still a piece of material, and depending on the type of fabrics used and washing instructions, most can be washed”.

I will talk about how I wash my quilts at another time.

Anyway, back to story:

I was at the supermarket, very quickly that evening, and I had to go to three before I found it. The following morning was now here and armed with my product, I was ready to wash this quilt.

Strangely, “particularly for me”, I was very calm about getting this “Dye Run” out of my quilt.

Now first of all, I had to wet this quilt with straight cold water to wash all the “blue wash away marking pens” out of the fabric.

So I draped the quilt over the rungs on the clothes line, and with the garden hose I proceeded to wash the blue markings out of the quilt.

Did I just feel you all cringe at the above explanation,…

Hanging a quilt on the clothes line, then using the garden hose?

Well, this is what I do to release the amount of “blue wash away markings”, as for this particular quilt I had used approx 20 marking pens.

You must support your quilt well though.

While I was busy doing the hosing, Geoff was keeping an eye on the quilt to make sure it was supported well, as with the weight of the water, it was now very heavy.

Geoff then said to me,…….

“Have you seen this side of the quilt yet”?

When I said no, he spun the line around for me to see.

Where ever I had used this one particular fabric, it decided to RUN, remembering that at this stage I was only using cold water.

My very calm and strange answer to this, surprised me, in fact, I can’t believe that I even said what I did.

Calmly I said….. “Don’t worry, it will be fine”……..

As this product, needs you to place the item into water that is approx 60 to 70 degrees, I had just wet my quilt with very icy cold water as it had been a heavy frost that morning.

So the bath was full of this very hot water, with the magic product in it, waiting for the quilt, when I realised that if we placed this now very heavy, wet and very cold quilt in the water, it may not work as the water temperature would drop in the bath.

So I thought, “How can I warm the quilt back up”?……………

Then I had the perfect thought, .......for me anyway!

I took the tap fittings off the end of the garden hose, and asked Geoff to hold this onto the overflow outlet of the Hot Water system, (never mind if he burnt he’s hand) then as the water come out the other end of the hose, I now hosed my quilt with hot water, the same temperature that was in our bath waiting for this quilt.

After all this was done, we carried this now very wet, warm and heavy quilt, 7 kgs approx, complete with its dye runs, inside and placed it into the bath, not too sure just what would happen.

INCREDIBLE….within seconds any dye that was run in this quilt was instantly gone. WOW!

Feeling very pleased with this whole process, I then carried on to wash this quilt as I normally would.

This you will have to wait for another time, to find out just how I finish washing my quilts, and how I dry them, as this posting is about removing “Dye Runs”, not actually “How to Wash a Quilt”.

Besides, you are possibly feeling a little shocked at what you have just read and feeling unable to get your head around how I just treated a quilt that took 2 years and 8 months to complete, that then went on to win 12 ribbons and awards including  “Best of Show”, that then placed the quilt up for judging with 6 other incredible quilts for “Best of Australia”.

This quilt did not take off “Best of Australia” but it did travel then for the year as part of the “Best of Australia” group of quilts.

So “How do you treat a Dye Run”?

In very simple terms:

  • Buy this product. Dylon, S.O.S COLOUR RUN.
  • Place the contents of the box into your laundry tough or bath, or whatever size is needed, using very hot water, AS PER BOX INSTRUCTIONS.
  • Soak for however long it takes to remove dye.
  • Then rinse with clean water.
  • Dry in your personal way.

If all dye is not removed first time,

Then try process once more.

I use both the sachets in the box for each quilt.

As I always wash my fabric when I first bring it home in very hot, straight hot tap water, I am not concerned about my fabric shrinking.
This above quilt was also made using 100% cotton.

Once again,

“The information on how I have done the above things is my personal way, and if you use this or a similar product, and do the things that I have done, it will be at your own risk, and I take no responsibility to anything that may happen while or after the use of this product or the things that I have done..”

I certainly hope that this has enlightened your day, and you now know that there is hope of rescuing that damaged masterpiece that you have tucked away in your cupboard.

Don’t forget to hit the comment button below and leave a comment about your particular “Dye Run”. It’s a great way of sharing your particular story.

(I wrote this posting some time ago, and I have been asked many times if I would put it back up, so if you feel that you have read this once before then you possibly have).

Till we chat again

Have an awesome few days

Rose Lewis Quilting

Please send the link to this page out to your friends and guilds, so that they may also be able to save a quilt that has had a dye run on it.