Dyeing Aida Using Hair Color – What Happens?

Alright folks, this is gonna be a bit of a cheeky post. I’m not actually recommending hair color for dyeing aida. It did however come up jokingly in the Pixel Stitch discord server one day back in November 2022 and I was curious how it would actually come out. So I tried it, and I’m just here to share my results for fun!

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Why you should NOT use hair color for dyeing aida

Hair color is not intended for dyeing aida

First off, let’s get this very clear. I am in no way recommending hair color for dyeing fabric. Most hair dyes don’t even stay in your hair for all that long, let alone on a material that is completely different than its original intention. At best it will be staining the fabric like with the tea stained aida I did a few years back.

Hair color is not color safe

Anyone who has colored their hair can attest to this. Even ‘Permanent’ hair color fades over time. And many colors can bleed. Usually all over your towels, and even your pillow cases while you sleep. The colored aida will very likely bleed if washed at all. Semi-Permanent and Temporary colors bleed even more and are definitely not designed to last.

Hair color is more expensive

A tube of the hair color I use (One N’ Only Perfect Intensity in Emerald Green) is $12 and I usually have to buy two or three to color my hair as it’s fairly long. Other brands are cheaper, yes. But…

RIT Liquid Dye is… anywhere from $3-$7 depending on sales, store coupons and such. According to RIT, one liquid bottle / two powder packages dyes 2 pounds of dry fabric. I can’t even color my whole head with a single tube of hair color, let alone that much fabric.

How to not waste hair color

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… it’s still a fun experiment. Y’know, just to see how it turns out. So if you do want to try dyeing aida to match your hair color, here’s what I did to avoid wasting precious hair product.

Use your fabric scraps

Do just a small amount of fabric, as hair dye isn’t going to go far anyway. If you’ve got a bag of scraps like I do, this is your chance. Something you can maybe use to slide into a greeting card or turn into a small necklace pendant. Maybe a small biscornu.

Color your hair first

Your hair takes priority here. If you’re wanting to experiment, then get that out of the way first. The last thing you want to do is run out of hair color while doing your hair. If you’re coloring your hair at home and are anything like me, hair color is gonna get everywhere anyway, so have your aida scrap nearby.

Use the aida to clean up

Now just use that scrap aida as a rag to clean up. Wipe down your neck/ears. Clean out the bottom of whatever bowl you were using. Wipe off your brush. The counter. Anything else nearby that was splattered by accident. Squeeze out the last dredges of your dye tube, or bottle. Cut it open if needed to get that last little bit.

I managed to get both sides of the fabric pretty well saturated through, just not quite out to the edges which will be trimmed away or hidden in a finish anyway. You can cut open the tubes to get a bit more out of them as needed. Not a single drop of hair color was wasted. Usually that product is washed off or thrown away.

How it came out

Once done cleaning up I waited for my hair to process, then tossed the scrap aida in the shower with me as I rinsed it out. I then left it (and my hair) to dry overnight. And now the real reason you are here… how did it turn out?

Well my hair turned out lovely, thanks for asking! I’ve been using this particular brand for years and love the color it makes, and how long it lasts before I have to color it again. However, the fabric came out much lighter in color by comparison!

You can see it best above, side by side the freshly colored hair. It’s more of a mint than the emerald of my hair.

It even seems it separated along the edges where it wasn’t fully saturated. Note that the colored edges are more of a blueish color that transition to the white uncolored edges.

Since it may show a bit different on your monitor, I found a DMC equivalent for you to compare with.

What to Make With It

Alright, now that we have tried dyeing aida with hair color… what do we do with it? The main thing you want to make sure is that it’s not something that will need washing, as this color will likely bleed if you do.

I’ll be turning this one into a small scissor fob, so I whipped up a small dragonfly pattern that I could fit two of onto this small stretch of cloth. You can use the pattern grid above and substitute in your own colors. Or if you’d prefer a PDF, this dragonfly pattern will be available for free on my Ko-Fi along with color suggestions! And of course, instructions on turning your cross stitch into a scissor fob is available here on my website.

I had originally planned to stitch it in a dark blue like in the chart above, but once I got stitching I ended up switching out the colors entirely. Feel free to do so as well!

Last minute, I decided the wings needed to be done in variegated thread. That ended up needing a little line of backstitch to keep the wings slightly separated.

Plus I got an excuse to use more of those pearlescent beads I bought in bulk just to get a single bead for my recent mermaid biscornu. I just used whatever cording I had on hand though. It turned out super cute!

Bleed Test

Fun scissor fobs aside, let’s see what else we can do with the leftover scraps. We can expect this color to bleed since the hair color I use is semi-permanent, but let’s test it anyway!

I actually stained this fabric back at the end of November 2022. So it sat for a good 6 months before I started putting together this article and stitching on it. So you can’t say it was still fresh when I did this test.

Rather than test my newly finished fob and possibly ruin it, I took some of the larger leftover scraps and stitched some white onto it to use as a test. One went into hot water (left) and one into room temp water (right).

Unsurprisingly the one in hot water bled more, even turning the water yellowish green. But even with the cool water it bled into the white stitches turning them a yellowish shade.

If you’re stitching with dark colors, you probably won’t notice the bleeding as much. Meanwhile, light colors are going to change.

Of course, this will vary wildly depending on the brand of hair color (and your hair). But as mentioned earlier even ‘permanent’ hair colors bleed and fade, let alone semi-permanent like this. The color chosen also makes a difference. Even amongst actual fabric dyes reds can be notorious for bleeding.

If you do end up try doing something like this, always make sure to do a little test like this to know what washing will do to your project before stitching!

Final Thoughts

So… should you dye fabric with hair color? Absolutely not. Was it fun to do anyway? Yes.

If you are already planning on coloring your hair, and want to play around with a small amount of colored aida that you can never wash… why not? Have some fun!