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Dyed Linen Napkins

Vintage linens take on a modern, festive look when overdyed in saturated colors.

To achieve these rich, super-saturated colors, use fiber-reactive procion dye on plant-based fabrics such as cotton, linen, rayon, etc. We found a huge selection of colors, plus helpful hints and instructions at Dharma Trading Co. (dharmatrading.com).

Basic How-To:

• Prewash the fabric.

• Create a paste with the powdered dye and a small amount of warm water, then add more warm water. When the dye is dissolved, add to a tub of water and stir in completely. The amount of water and dye you need depends on the amount of fabric, the chosen color family, and how deep you want the final color to be.

• Add the called-for amount of noniodized salt to the dye tub and mix. (Some instructions call for adding optional calsolene oil. We did not use calsolene oil for the linens shown.)

• Add the fabric (either wet or dry), and stir frequently for 20 minutes.

• Dissolve the called-for amount of soda ash in warm water and very slowly add to the dye bath while stirring, avoiding pouring it directly on the fabric. Stir frequently for the recommended time (about 30 minutes for lighter colors and one hour for darker colors).

• Rinse the fabric with cool water until the water runs almost clear. Finally, machine-wash on high-heat setting with detergent to remove the rest of the dye. (You may have to repeat this last step with some darker colors.)

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