Cheaters Guide to Dying Wool Felt

Cheaters Guide to Dying Wool Felt

I have a confession to make… I cheat. There, I said it. Oh, not in anything important like a game of Candyland with the wee ones or on my taxes, BUT, I’m always on the lookout for shortcuts. Sometimes, I’ve made some awesome discoveries that I use over and over again, other times I’ve experienced some scathingly brilliant disasters! (There is a ponytail incident that comes to mind, but that truly is a blog in and of itself!)
Anyway, one of my many cheats… or let’s just call them time savers… is when I dye felt. There are MANY sites out there that give great tutorials on how to dye wool that include heat and a setting agent. You should probably go read some of them… seriously : ) Today, I’m going to share how I dye wool felt to get the soft, subtle color variations that I love using a non-traditional, cheaters-shortcut.

A couple of things to know… these are not considered “colorfast”. I do not do anything to “set” the color in, because I am using the felt for items that do not get wet, and I’ve yet to have any problems with the colors rubbing off or getting on your hands when they are made into toys. Remember… this is not an official tutorial on dying felt. This is my own fast and easy method. If you want to try it, make 1 piece of felt and make it into something. Use it for a while and see what you think. It works for me but might not be what you need.

So, having said all that, let’s get started. All you need is a white piece of 100% wool felt and some food coloring.

I begin by getting the piece of felt completely wet using warm water. Squeeze out extra water. The felt will probably looked crumpled, and might even “felt” or shrink a bit. I’m okay with that!

Next, get out a jelly roll pan and put just enough water in it to cover the surface.

Now, squirt some drops of food coloring on the surface. I usually use 2 colors and lightly swirl.

This is what magically happens when you swirl blue and yellow… you get green, tah dah! If you wanted blue, you can do the same technique using only blue food coloring and leaving “white space” in the pan.

Here is some yellow and orange food coloring.

Place your piece of felt in the jelly roll pan, and press down. Do not move it around. You want to pick up the swirls and give it a mottled look. If you move it too much you will wind up with a solid color. (No photo for that step. Sorry!)

Remove the felt from the pan.

Using rags or paper towel, blot off some of the extra water.

Set on a wire rack to dry completely. I occasionally move the felt around the rack and turn it over while it is drying. This will stop the felt from developing lines from the rack.

That’s all there is to it. When the felt is completely dry, you can use it for making gnomes and other projects. Notice the variation in color. I love it!

Before anyone asks, I get most of my felt from A Child’s Dream. They got some of the loveliest felt around!

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Photos 1-22-14, 2-4-14




  1. Never would have thought of using food dye on felt love the look of the subtle color changes.Love your bog.

    1. If you pre-soaked the felt in vinegar and heat set it (I’d think a low setting on the oven would do the job) then it would be colorfast. I’ve used food coloring on yarn and roving before with good results.

  2. Hello! Love the tutorial, thank you! Where can I buy that food coloring? I’ve searched all over the net and can’t find four oz bottles. Thanks! Jill

  3. Have you ever tried dying wool-blend felts? Does/do you think it comes out slightly variegated, or just light in color?

    1. Kimara

      I have tried, with little success. Most of the blends are only 15 – 20 wool. It is much harder to have acrylics take dye. The results wear very light, and I even had some of the color come off on damp children’s hands. There might be a great way to dye the blends, I just haven’t found it yet. If you do, please share your tips with us. Good luck! ~Kimara~

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