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How to Dye Table Linens | iDye Gunmetal

Learning how to dye table linens is so easy!  I absolutely love dyeing things because it’s such a quick and inexpensive way to really update a garment or home decor staple.  Over the years, I’ve logged a bevy of DIY dye projects.  Some of my favorites include: dyeing a dress a deep shade of navy, dyeing a pair of jeans darker, and dyeing a set of crocheted lace doilies for a pretty tablescape.  I did some dip dyeing too!  For almost all of my DIY dye projects, I have used Rit Dye.

I have decided to expand my dyeing repertoire and not only do I have a couple of fancier dye projects planned, I’ve branched out and started experimenting with different brands of dye.  I had heard that iDye is a better quality fabric dye than Rit, so I recently used a couple of packs on an easy project to test out this new-to-me brand of fabric dye.  Read on to learn how to dye table linens with iDye fabric dye.

How to dye table linens // Tutorial by @danslelakehouse

I started with this beautiful, cream coloured cotton and rayon damask table cloth, which I inherited:

Dye a table cloth

Dye a damask table cloth

I loved the table cloth but NO cream or white table linens would ever last a day in my home.  Plus it felt kind of bridal.  I knew its fate: sit in my cupboard for years, until I eventually get rid of my oval table, then sadly discover that no one else in my family has an oval table (it’s why I inherited it in the first place), so I’ll end up dejectedly donating this sentimental linen to the thrift shops in the hopes that someone else can use it.  I know this because many sentimental, “too good to use” things have met a similar fate so, these days, I’m all about using the good stuff!

I figured that if I dyed the table cloth a darker color, to hide the inevitable wine spills, I’ll relax and just enjoy using it.  In hindsight, maybe dyeing it burgundy would have been the best bet, but I kept envisioning a deep steel grey.

Dye a table cloth darker to hide stains

I ordered some iDye on Amazon, in Gun Metal (grey).  It comes in different formulations, this one was designed for natural fabrics (like cotton, silk, etc.).  There are also iDye formulations for synthetic materials as well (something Rit recently came out with too).

Review of iDye natural fabric dye

iDye comes in a little cardboard envelope with the instructions printed on the inside.  The dye is in a sort of puck, which is supposedly less messy than powders or bottles, but the outside of my dye packs were covered in powdery residue which immediately dyed my hands before I got the packets open, so I don’t consider the packaging a selling feature.

Frankly, having watched too many episodes of Border Security, I’m just surprised that this didn’t raise any red flags in the mail…

iDye vs Rit Dye - which is better?

Using iDye is just as easy as Rit.  I opted for the washing machine method (as opposed to stove top).  Here’s how to dye table linens in the washing machine:

  • Wash the garment/fabric to be dyed to remove sizing
  • Fill the washing machine with hot water
  • Add the iDye dye packs (I used two) plus 1 cup of non-iodized salt
  • Let agitate for a minute
  • Add the fabric (make sure it’s still wet)
  • Let agitate in dye bath for 50-60 minutes (my table linens were in there about 70 minutes total)
  • Let the machine finish the cycle
  • Dry!

I promised that learning how to dye table linens is easy peasy!  I turned on a timer so I knew when to keep re-setting my machine to ensure it was agitated for the hour or so.  In between timer chimes I puttered.  By the time my linens were dyed, I could check off a DIY project and “clean the house” from my to-do list.  Win!  This might be why I like dyeing things so much…

The table cloth (and matching napkins) turned out beautifully!

DIY Dyed Table Linens // Review of iDye by @danslelakehouse

Modernize a damask table cloth by dyeing it a fresh new hue // Dans le Lakehouse blog

Vintage cream damask table cloth dyed gun metal grey // @danslelakehouse

Review of iDye natural fabric dye compared to Rit Dye // @danslelakehouse

The colour is a really unusual grey – it’s got purple undertones, but sometimes it reads really blue, other times a little more warm.  “Gun metal” is the perfect name for it!  It’s one of those colours that really plays with the light, made more interesting by the damask pattern and subtle sheen of the cotton/rayon blend.

The only, tiny issue is that the dye seemed to grab the linens more where the fabric had been folded.  This table cloth has been sitting around, folded, since the 80s, so it might not be an issue with the fabric dye, but the item itself.  I did wash it thoroughly before dyeing, but sometimes there’s only so much you can do when fabric starts to show it’s age.  When I dyed a shirtdress awhile back, lingering residue from my antiperspirant caused an issue with the dye so I think the best contenders for DIY dye projects are new, freshly laundered items.  Having said that, you’ll never notice the slightly darker areas on this table cloth – especially not once it’s adorned with plates, flowers, and delicious food!

Cream damask table cloth dyed an unusual shade of grey // iDye Gun Metal // @danslelakehouse

Update dated table linens with dye and breathe new life into old table cloths and cloth napkins // @danslelakehouse

Pretty DIY dyed blue/grey table linens // @danslelakehouse

It’s SO gorgeous!  I’m thrilled with the outcome: it looks more modern and the blue/grey hue is perfect in the lakehouse – it complements the teal tweed chairs beautifully and ties in the grey from the nearby plywood topped Ikea floating credenza and grey painted brick fireplace.  Hopefully learning how to dye table linens encourages you to dye something too!

How to update table linens by dyeing them in the washing machine // by @danslakehouse

I feel emboldened to branch out and try new brands of dye because the colour choices for some of the more “professional” grade dyes are outstanding!



  1. Ingegnere Sentimentale
    May 2, 2016 / 3:01 pm

    Hello! I just wanted to suggest a LOVELY item that saved my table cloths more then once: I've had a similar one for years and it works. Just know that some brands make it in metal (I guess it's called spring steel, but I'm not native English) and some in plastic: both work, but the latter lasts less.I'd hate to see your hard work ruined 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 2, 2016 / 3:19 pm

      Thank you!! That sounds like a good item to have. I never thought to look for something like that, thanks so much for the link!

  2. beadhen
    May 3, 2016 / 1:35 am

    The fabric turned out very nice, nicer than the white because of the contrast. You have inspired me to try this product…

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 3, 2016 / 5:01 pm

      Thanks! I'm so thrilled with the colour!

  3. HandymanInLondon
    May 3, 2016 / 10:35 am

    It looks great. Our dining room is beige so I guess a brown cloth is going to look great!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 3, 2016 / 5:01 pm

      Beige can look good with so many different colours, you're lucky!

  4. Unknown
    May 3, 2016 / 2:36 pm

    I also have always used RIT dye so will now have to try this dye. Thanks for passing on the tip! The end result looks great!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 3, 2016 / 5:02 pm

      It was just as easy to use, but with some different colour options. I'll keep you posted on how it wears/washes.

  5. Susie
    May 3, 2016 / 7:46 pm

    What is the procedure for a front loading washing machine?

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 4, 2016 / 10:15 pm

      As I understand it, you add the dye to water first, and pour it in where you would add detergent in a front loader. Rit Dye has a great tutorial, Google "dye front loading washing machine". You can dilute salt in water and add it the same way. I've never used a front loader, but it's doable!!

  6. Ariadne
    May 9, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    I love it!It really looks so beautiful with the two hues of blue on the damask!Congrats!AriadnefromGreece!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 11, 2016 / 3:29 am

      Thanks Ariadne! I wasn't sure how the dye would grab the damask, but it turned out so beautifully, I'm so thrilled (and relieved!).

  7. Michelle {Jarrah Jungle}
    May 19, 2016 / 1:25 am

    I love how the pattern really shows through once the colour is added, you did a great job, and no more having to hide the red wine stains!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 19, 2016 / 3:47 am

      Thanks Michelle! I agree – the damask pattern seems to really shine now. I was using the napkins earlier this evening and way admiring them in the sunlight. Anything shiny/sparkly/gleaming catches my eye and captivates my attention, lol.

  8. KaththeeT
    May 24, 2022 / 11:39 am

    I know this was years back but I recommend using a Scotchguard type product on tablecloths. I love it. I am so relaxed during thanksgiving dinner even when using my hand embroidered vintage tablecloth which can’t be dyed because of all the various colors used in the embroidery. After saying that, I am so thankful to see how linen behaves after being dyed. It is absolutely gorgeous. I am not a big fan of gray but I love blue and to me it looks like a glorious blue color. Thank you so much!

    • May 24, 2022 / 2:49 pm

      Such a great tip! I used it before on upholstered dining chairs but didn’t think to use it on tablecloths. Thank you!

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