How to Dye Rope

I love the look and feel of using chunky rope in my tapestries and macrame projects. It is not easy to find, (I get mine from Niroma Studio) but most of the times I don’t have it on hand, and when inspiration strikes I need it NOW. Luckily, Amazon comes to the rescue with the DIY supplies to make my own chunky dyed rope.

I’m not a dyeing expert, but I have a very simple process that’s worked so far! Here it is.

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Step 1. Separate your 3-ply strands and tape the ends.

Step 2. Wind the rope into a circle and tie it loose-ish-ly (not tight enough that it doesn’t let the dye get it, not too loose so it comes apart) around the ring.

Mottled Dye

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For some projects I love the mottled/ variegated dye look. A little dye here… a little dye there… I think that sprinkles of color in various shades add an extra dimension to the project!

  1. Thoroughly soak the rope in warm water and then place it in a dry, shallow dish.

  2. Sprinkle dye POWDER straight onto the rope. Too much will create a dyed-through look. The dye will spread out as it soaks in, so be light on the sprinkling and try not to spread it around as you move the rope.

  3. Flip the rope over to sprinkle the underside. Check all sides and make sure there aren’t any glaringly bare areas. Let it sit for a few minutes. The longer it sits, the darker and more spread out the dye will get.

  4. Rinse the rope out with cold water until the water runs clear. Then lay it out to dry on an old towel.


Sometimes you want your rope to be dyed as evenly as possible. If the color is important to the pattern, then an even dye will make it easier to stand out.

  1. Place the rope in a pot of water so that it is completely submerged.

  2. Add dye (liquid or powder - it doesn’t matter). More dye will make the color more vibrant.

  3. I’ve heard there are two things that help cotton absorb dye more deeply: hot water and salt. This has been true during my experimenting. Turn the stove on and heat the water up. It doesn’t need to be a rolling boil - just heated up a bit. I only heat it up for a few minutes, but the longer it soaks in the dye, the deeper the dye will be.

  4. Rinse the rope out with cold water until the water runs clear. Then lay it out to dry on an old towel.

*One common issue I haven’t figured out how to avoid when dyeing rope is that the thin strands tend to curl up sometimes. I’ve found two things that help, but please share if you know the secret to avoid this altogether! 1. Less soaking and agitating keeps the rope strands smoother and flatter. Mottled dying tends to result in less curls than dyeing through, soaked in a pot. 2. Stretch the rope out while dying.