DIY Dyed Feathers with Rachel Anne Jones


Feathers are everywhere this year--it's in our hair, hats, bags, brooches, necklaces, earrings, and if we could crystallize it in sugar it'd be a bacon cupcake in about half a second. There's a lot of great tutorials on dying feathers, but we're going to dye ours a little bit differently than just one solid color: We're going to dye it ombre.

Ombre is a dying method that dyes by dipping material in a series of dips, and it will make a smooth gradation from the top to the bottom of your feathers (depending on how smooth you want it, of course). Perfect for a custom accent for everyday, for the steampunk convention I know you still secretly want to attend, or that dream Halloween costume you didn't finish from last year. It's currently a fun trend popping up in dresses, necklaces, earrings, and even in dyeing hair.



-feathers (mine are storebought, but this works for domesticated birds as well.)
-Dye (I used liquid RIT dye that you can buy from the grocery store)
-3 containers (I used styrafoam bowls cuz my feathers were smaller. If you're using peacock feathers you should look at this site because those feathers are a little bit trickier to dye.)
-1 microwaveable mug
-clips to hold the feathers (preferably clothespins because they're more gentle)
-paper towel to dry them on
-gloves are optional but you might wish to save your manicure, unlike me.


1. First off, RIT dye works with hot water. So, once you've selected your colors and your feathers, microwave some water in a mug so you'll have it hot and ready for when you start to dye--make it real hot, about coffee hot. We aren't putting the dye in this mug--we are adding this water to the dye, which will be in the two seperate styrafoam bowls

2. Fabric dye is usually meant for huge loads dyed with a wash machine--but you're doing a couple of feathers, you'll be doing it in small amounts because you can only dip so many feathers into the same bowl, so don't worry about having the right proportions of water to dye. I eyeballed about a tablespoon into each bowl and then an equal amount of hot water, just to cover about a third of the feather when it's clipped to the side of the bowl.

Make sure the dye is soaking through the feather. You'll have to poke it a bit with a toothpick, since most feathers are just naturally water resistant. Every feather will pick up dye a little differently. I noticed the downy parts of my feathers really liked orange and ate it up instantly, but the stiffer parts of the feather had to stay in dye a bit longer.

3. Now wait about 15 minutes, that will be about 2 games of bubble spinner (which is how I've started to measure time.) This time is again up to you--on some of my feathers I left it in longer and got a really intense color perfect for a costume, but when I left it for 15 I got a more friendly, subtle gradient that was better for everyday.


4. heat up your water mug again, and add more water to the dye and feathers. This will bring the water level up to about halfway up your feather. This also dilutes the dye, so that it will do less of a dye job on the top level than the first level.

5. Wait about 10 minutes, again, approx two games of bubble spinner.

6. now fill the last styrafoam cup with clean, luke temperature water and drop your dyed feathers into it and clean them off. You'll instantly see the results. The darker dyes tend to make a stiff line at the end of their gradation, so you may want to dip it for a minute or so back into the dye, just to make sure it's smooth.

7. Repeat with a different color coming from the opposite direction if you want. Just make sure to overlap the two colors in the middle so it looks fluid.

8. When you're done, put the cleaned feathers on a towel to dry. They will look like you've destroyed them, but once they're dry, you can fluff them back into order.


Whats great about doing this, is that you can dye it to match anything--your purse, your hat, your jacket--so people won't look at it and say "hey...that's a chicken feather from Micheals, isn't it?" instead it will look hand crafted and unique.

If anyone tries this out, show it off in the comments! You can dye it in so many different ways..and in fact, I'm not wondering if tie-dyeing feathers is at all possible (like on an ostrich feather maybe?) but that would be another tutorial. ;)

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  1. cool, I never though of dying feathers~

  2. cool idea! should we try this at home? ;-)

  3. Very cool!! I just featured this today on my blog's Ombre Trend inspiration board. Please stop by when you have a chance and feel free to grab a "featured on" button from my sidebar!

  4. So did you do anything special to get the design in the feathers? (the spots and stuff)

  5. I love this! I dye ombre feathers all of the time and it is a blast! to check out some I have dyed. Thank you for posting this!


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