Rust fabric – Create beautiful patterns on fabric with rust

Love collecting pieces of rusty metal off the beach? Wonder what to do with them once home?! My eye has been drawn to fabric dyed with rust – somehow I started yet another Pinterest board! The patterns on rust fabric are beautiful.

I love the random nature of rust dyed fabric. It is hard to control the results but that is part of the fun. Different fabrics will react slightly differently, some may dye quicker than others.

These are my experiments (to date!)

How to dye fabric with rust

Collect a variety of objects with rust – your fabric will need to be touching rust for the colour to develop.

Collection of rust objects, create rust fabric

Soak your fabric in a ration of 50:50 vinegar and water.

rusty nails - create rust fabric

Place rust fabric on top of fabric, alternatively wrap the objects in fabric.

The rust dye will take anywhere between a day and five days to develop.

Rust dying fabric

Bright sunshine helps the rust develop.

Once dyed wash the fabric.

Rust fabric drying on washing line

 Rust fabric, creating patterns

Having experimented dying fabric with found rust objects I moved on to experiment with non rusty items. My thoughts were could I have more control over the results, create patterns?? I experimented with pins, staples and metal washers. Non of these objects had rust to start with. I pleated the fabric, adding the metal items to see if I could create specific patterns.

Initially the results looked unpromising but after two to three days I am delighted with the results.

  • Dying with pins

  • Dying with metal washers

  • Dying with staples

These results were not as controlled as I anticipated but I still love them.

Naturally the next question is what to make with rust dyed fabric? I am thinking slow stitch could be beautiful – a piece of wall art? a rust fabric lampshade?



9 thoughts on “Rust fabric – Create beautiful patterns on fabric with rust”

  1. These are really interesting. Such a great idea. I look forward to seeing what develops from these experiments. It would be great to make a sampler quilt / hanging from the different rust dying methods.

  2. I’ve stained fabric with pins by mistake but never on purpose!
    What interesting results you are getting. Do you follow Agy from Green Issues? She has been doing some interesting experiments too.
    I’m interested to see what you do with these pieces, I imagine them used for applique or embroidered over in some way maybe…

  3. Such an interesting idea. I can imagine it looking very effective when combined with embroidery. Looking forward to seeing what you make with them 🙂

  4. Wow Vicky this sounds so interesting and creative and that is what I love. All of the responses from these ladies I love their ideas also. Out on my deck I have a lot of things that rusted over the winter, one thing I have is a bowl of nails which has rusted, what I’ve done was pour out the water every time and used it for my plants. Now I will try to use it in a craft project. Love this will let you know if anything comes of this. Thanks for sharing.



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