Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How To Fade Fabric

Sometimes you find something that's just perfect for what you need - but, it just needs a slight alteration.  Sometimes making that slight alteration yourself can get you exactly what you want, and save you a lot of money.

Case in point: I had this apricot fabric on hand, but needed it to be just a couple shades lighter for the ruffled pillow shams I was making.  I set out to see if I could fade the fabric myself to the shade I needed.

Here's how I went about it:


- Fabric
- Rubber gloves
- Apron (to protect your clothes)
- Bleach
- Measuring cup
- Bathtub or other large wash basin


1) TEST:

I mixed 1 cup of bleach with 10 cups of hot water and fully submerged a small scrap of my fabric in the solution for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes was up, I removed my scrap from the bleach solution, rinsed it thoroughly with cold water, wrung it out in a cloth, and laid it flat to air dry.  Once my scrap was dry, I checked it against the rest of my fabric and found that it had worked perfectly, and was just the right colour!

If you don't get lucky the first time like I did, leave the scrap in the bleach solution for a longer period of time until you achieve the shade you desire, or increase the amount of bleach in the solution.  However, I wouldn't use more than 2 parts bleach to 10 parts water because if the bleach is too strong it can eat away at the fibers of your fabric and decrease it's quality.


I was working with raw fabric, not a finished product (if you are fading a finished product you would just skip this step), so I decided to pre-cut my pieces before fading them. I probably could have just left the fabric in one piece, but I was worried that I would have difficulty fully submerging a larger piece of fabric evenly in the solution (might create air-pockets, or folds that would absorb the solution differently in different spots).  My worst fear was that the fabric might fade un-evenly, and would not end up all the same shade, so I took this extra step to try and avoid that.


Using the same recipe from my test, I mixed 1 part bleach to 10 parts hot water in my bathtub.  When I was certain that I had it mixed well, I quickly added my pieces of fabric 1 at a time, making sure each individual piece was fully submerged in the solution (if you do it this way, you want to be quick about it so that the first pieces you put in aren't in the solution for too much longer than the last ones).  Once all the pieces were submerged, I set my timer for 15 minutes and let it all sit.

*Note* If you want everything to be the same, you'll want to do all of your fabric or items in a single batch.  Slight variables can make a difference in between batches, so if you want it all to be exactly the same, do it all at once!


I drained the bleach solution from the bathtub and squeeze out as much of the solution from the fabric as possible.  Next, I turned on the shower and rinsed the fabric out under cold running water as well as I could, and squeezed out the excess water from the fabric when I felt it was sufficient.

Next I filled the bathtub with cold water (fully submerging the fabric) and swished the fabric around in it for about 10 minutes.

Then I drained the water and squeezed out the excess water from the fabric.

*Note*  I have read that it is a good idea to submerge your fabric or item(s) in a chlorine neutralizer solution before this step to make sure the bleach stops fading and to eliminate the bleachy smell- however I didn't find this to be necessary.

5) DRY:

I debated whether or not to just throw my fabric pieces in the dryer, but instead I decided to roll each piece in a towel and air dry them. It probably would've been fine to dry them in the dryer - but again I was worried about uniformity and wanted all the pieces to dry evenly just in case that somehow effected the fading process.

When all my pieces were dry I ironed them and proceeded to sew my pillow covers with all my fabric just the right shade!


  1. Fade fabric AND clean your tub at the same time ;) Multitasking at it's finest!

  2. How did the shams come out. I'm curious to see what they look like bcuz of the thin strips u made!đŸ˜€