How to Dye Fabric with Chalk Paint

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Learn how to dye fabric with chalk paint. Sometimes you get the urge to dye something and despite your love of dyeing stuff (like curtains and slipcovers), your craft stash doesn’t contain that color of dye. What do you do? Get creative with chalk paint of course!


how to dye fabric with chalk paint

Did you know that it’s pretty hard to find pale pink napkins in stores at this time of year? I could just buy some in mustard yellow or orange, but I really wanted pale pink. So what’s a girl to do?

Make them myself of course. I bought some white hemstitch napkins from Home Goods with the intentions of dyeing them. I thought my grocery store store carried Rit dye, but I was wrong. Not really wanting to drive across town to a craft store, I went home, knowing that I could figure something out.

So I turned to Pinterest, as I always do when faced with life’s tough mysteries and I found my answer! How can you dye without dye? It turns out that you can dye fabric with chalk paint, which makes sense because paint is known to stain clothing! So I decided to try it out on my napkins.

How to Dye Fabric with Chalk Paint

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  • Chalk paint  – similar (I used this sample jar of “powder room” paint by American Paint Company, but any chalk paint should work.)

dye fabric with chalk paint

  • Napkins
  • Large container
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Let napkins soak. I started by soaking the napkins in water. Soaking the fabric in water will help it dye evenly. I let it sit for about 30 minutes while I did other things like clean my kitchen.

napkins soaking in pot

Rinse napkins. Then, remove the napkins from the water and rinsed them.

Add paint to water. I refilled my container and added a spoonful of paint. Try to mix the paint well so there are no globs to ruin your fabric. You want a very watery consistency to keep the fabric soft. I would say use about 1 tbsp per gallon for a pastel color. Use more paint for a darker color, but don’t make it too thick.

mix napkins in dye mixture

Place napkins in “dye bath”. I replaced the napkins into the water and stirred them around as needed. This helps to make sure that every bit of the fabric gets dyed evenly.

Add vinegar. Then I added some vinegar and mixed it again. Vinegar helps color stick and stay vibrant.

Rinse napkins. When it was close to the color I wanted, I removed the napkins and washed them out. Not very much of the color came out, which is good! With normal dye, tons of dye disappears while rinsing.

rinse napkins

Dry napkins. I squeezed out as much water as possible and then put them in the dryer for about 15 minutes. Damp fabric is preferable so that ironing is easier.

dyed fabric napkins

I really love this method of dyeing fabric because it’s so easy to get custom colors. Chalk paint comes in a variety of beautiful colors or you can mix them yourself. The napkins turned out soft, not crunchy at all, like you would expect with paint.

It’s also easy to fix if you mess up. If my napkins had turned out too pink, I could dye them with watered down tea to tone the pink down. Or you can re-dye them completely!

They’re ready for use after ironing. Now I have lovely pink napkins for my table that I can’t wait to use!

Learn to dye fabric with chalk paint

Would you try to dye fabric with chalk paint? I’ll definitely try it again!

Check out these napkins in this pastel winter tablescape! 

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  1. Hi there, I hope you might be able to help me!! I’m getting married next year and my lovely mum bought my napkins but they are very pink and would love a vintage pink like yours. How would I dye them to a lighter more soft pink? Thank you so much!
    Izzy xxx

    1. Hey Izzy, you can’t dye things to make them lighter, but you could try bleaching them. I would test one out. If the fabric or threads aren’t 100% cotton, they might not bleach well. Also, if they are a delicate fabric, they could fall apart. For instance, lace will disintegrate. Good luck!

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