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By Bonnie B. Lewis

Here is the method my good friend Ellyn Voss uses to get wonderful dyed mohair fleece for doll hair.

CAUTION! This method works best with BLEACHED hides because they stay supple when dyed. If you try to dye unbleached hides, they will become stiff and brittle, difficult to work into a wig. It is bleached if the fleece is white and not off-white or yellow. (If you order fleece from Dollmaker’s Journey to dye, make sure you get the “bleached” and NOT the “natural” color.)
If you purchase hides from other sources note that a skin tanned WASHABLE dyes beautifully.
A skin tanned DRY CLEAN will harden.

You will need the following:

  • 2 quart glass, enamel or plastic pitcher (NOT METAL)
  • wooden or plastic stirring utensil, plastic measuring spoons for dye
  • plastic gloves
  • old white towel
  • fan
  • face mask – found at hardware store, pharmacy or craft store
  • powdered Rit Dyes
  • Bleached mohair on hide such as Tibetan Lamb - /hair.html

Realistic Colors:

  • Rit Pumpkin – wonderful redhead color
  • Rit Tangerine and tiny bit of Golden Yellow – bright carrot top
  • Rit Tan – very light brown (almost blonde)
  • Rit Cocoa Brown with Yellow – light brown
    NOTE: It is impossible to get a good dark brown or black color using Rit dye. That is why we offer two colors of brown and a wonderful black fleece at /hair.html This colored fleece has very soft skin and is perfect for making doll wigs. Also try the natural fleece for wonderful Santa beards and hair.

Fantasy Colors:

  • Rit Rose Pink and Tan = fantasy pink
  • Rit Golden Yellow = very bright yellow
  • Other good fantasy colors include: Rit Seafoam, Purple, Blue and Kelly Green
    HINT: If the color is too bright, try over dyeing with Rit Tan to dull the color.

1. Cut skins into about 12" square pieces. Larger pieces are more difficult to dye using this method. (The pieces we sell at Dollmaker’s Journey are 12” x 6” – you can dye two pieces at a time.)

2. You must have good ventilation when working with powdered dyes. Use a stove vent, open a window, operate a fan, or do it outside. You might also want to wear a facemask for the next step because it is easy to accidentally inhale the fine powdered dye.

3. Dissolve 1/2 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) Rit dye (powdered dye works best) in 1 cup very hot water. Stir to dissolve. Always dissolve powdered dye in small amount of water before adding lots of water. SLOWLY pour dye into jar so particles don't become airborne. You can put powdered dye and hot water in a quart glass jar, add lid and shake well. Cool to lukewarm.

4. Add 6 to 8 cups tepid water to dye mixture in two-quart pitcher. (This is very important, because fleece can be shocked if subjected to extreme temperature variations. Hot water will cause the hide to stiffen.) Pitcher may be glass, enamel or plastic, but NOT metal. Mix dye thoroughly, using wooden or plastic stirrer. You can also use a 9 x13" glass or enamel (NEVER metal) pan, but pieces of fleece must be cut to fit pan. IMPORTANT *NEVER* use any of these utensils or containers for food again.

5. Wet hide in lukewarm water. Loosely roll into tube with fleece side out.

6. Protecting your hands with rubber gloves, immerse fleece in tepid dye bath in the pitcher until you are satisfied with the color. DO NOT agitate; just make sure fleece is completely covered with dye. You can push fleece down into dye with handle of stirrer. Remember that the fleece will look a lot darker when wet, and will lighten in color when dry. This step can take from ten minutes to several hours to overnight, depending on how dark you want the mohair. You can use the dye several times, but the color will lighten and you will have to leave the fleece in longer for good results.

7. Gently rinse out excess dye under tepid running water. It helps to wear plastic gloves so your hands won't become dyed in the process. Some people are also allergic to the dyes; better safe than sorry.

8. Place wet fleece on an old white towel and roll up, gently pressing to remove excess water. You can do this several times.

9. Hang fleece with nap going down on a clothesline and dry by turning on a powerful fan. Dry the skin side first for about an hour, then turn fleece around and dry the mohair side. Using a fan will speed up drying time and help the mohair to fluff. Be sure and place an old towel under the drying fleece to absorb any excess water that might drip. This method of drying is preferable to using the clothes dryer because it eliminates agitation, which can create felting.

Thanks for visiting Dollmaker's Journey, where we are here to help you every step of the way.

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