To Dye For – Inkodye


KNKUSA recently introduced an exciting new product to their ever expanding line of Materials.  It is called Inkodye.  A liquid ink that is water based and develops it’s color permanently with exposure to sunlight.  You can read more about it and watch a video here.  At this time there are three colors – red, blue, and orange – plus a washing liquid available.  The supplier is working to expand the color range in the near future.  The colors can be mixed to create additional colors.

I have done a bit of experimenting with the ink using stencils made from various vinyls and a couple of rubber stamps on fabrics.  The vinyl I like using the most is the outdoor vinyl which you can get from KNKUSA. It has a “permanent aggressive” adhesive which means that it will stick to materials such as Tee shirts but it can be removed without damaging the shirt.

For today’s post I created a patriotic themed stencil, applied it to the shirt, painted on the Inkodye, exposed it to the sunlight, removed the stencil, and washed the shirt.  This is the result of that process.


I have always liked that phrase and decided it was just what I wanted for my shirt.

After deciding on the design, I created it in the Make The Cut software using the pixel trace feature and the Tekton Pro Ext font, and cut it as a stencil using the outdoor vinyl on my 15″ Maxx Air.  The line on the top of the eagle’s head was thickened by using a very small shadow layer which was then welded to the original image.

This is the completed stencil.  The vinyl was a light gray color.


I had previously washed my shirt, being careful not to use any fabric softener which might inhibit the absorption of the dye, and ironed it so it would be smooth.  To stabilize the shirt front for the application of the dye, I have an old metal kitchen countertop saver board that I have covered with a plastic garbage bag.  I inserted that into the shirt and then wrapped and taped the shirt to the back so I had a flat surface on which to apply the stencil.  You could use a large piece of cardboard or thin wood covered with plastic also.

Because some of the letters had interior pieces that could easily get displaced when the backing was removed from the vinyl, I put transfer tape on the vinyl to hold them in place just as if I were transferring the design to the wall.  However, in this case I used the parts of the vinyl that would normally get weeded out if I were putting the design on a wall.


I peeled the backing paper down from the top for about an inch and then starting applying the vinyl to the shirt, peeling the backing away and smoothing the vinyl onto the shirt from top to bottom.  Once the vinyl was in place and securely smoothed to the shirt – I used a brayer to help in that process – I removed the transfer tape and all of the pieces were in place.  To help protect the shirt in case of any splatters or other mishaps, I wrapped the exposed parts of the shirt in plastic and secured it to the edges of the vinyl stencil with wide blue painter’s tape.


Finally, I was ready to apply the ink.  The inks have a hint of color.  A couple of them are clear and one is milky but they work just the same.  I used a separate brush for each color and poured just a small amount of the inks into a small dish just before I was ready to use them.  Once the ink was applied, it looked like this.


Not much color at this point.  But once it was out in the sunlight it changed quite rapidly.

After one minute.

Time 2-04

After two minutes.

Time 2-05

It looked as if the red was going to end up being more pink than red and the blue was looking more like purple.  I decided that since it had only been exposed for a few minutes and the directions say 10 minutes or more, that I would just let it sit and see what happened.  Gradually the colors changed and became red and blue.  It took about 10 minutes and it wouldn’t have hurt to have left it longer except that I was anxious to see it finished.

I took it inside, un-taped and un-wrapped it being careful not to get ink from the stencil surface on the shirt, and washed it by hand according to the directions using the Inko Wash detergent.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of it while it was still wet.


Once it was dry – okay, I admit, I hung it in front of a fan – I pressed it and took a close up photo of the completed design.


I am really happy with how it turned out.  The ink is easy to use and it took less than a tablespoon of each ink for this design.

As a result of my experiments, I have made some mistakes so you wouldn’t have to.  To that end, I offer the following suggestions:

Use separate brushes for each color.  Keep a small glass of water to immediately wash brushes after applying the ink.  Protect all exposed parts of your shirt or other article to keep stray bits of ink off.  Wear old clothing and a plastic apron.  Make sure your plastic covered board goes under just the layer of fabric where you want the ink – not behind the front and back of the shirt.  Wash and iron fabric before applying ink.  Work in an area that is not exposed to sunlight.  Work on a protected surface.  Read and follow the directions.

To cut the vinyl on my Maxx Air I used the following settings: Force = 8, Velocity = 135, a red capped blade, blade offset = .35, no mat, and blade holder with collar sitting on top of blade clamp.

The eagle image I used was from an internet site.  The file, which you can download below, has an eagle from the Gallery in Make The Cut (#5955).

Home of the Free Cutting Files_Judy_Kay

Thanks, Chad! for a great new product!

21 thoughts on “To Dye For – Inkodye

  1. I won’t add more items to my hobby. I won’t add more items to my hobby. I repeat, I won’t add more items to my hobby. You guys make it hard for me to stick to one thing. I want to try it all!

  2. Very cool. Thank you for explaining how to get an even attachment on the shirt. I look forward to trying this technique.

  3. I love that saying and I’m not even American! Your project is gorgeous as always and very inspiring. The ink colour change process is amazing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Too many projects on my list! I need more craft time! Thanks for showing us yet another thing to try! Do you think they would go for a 2 day work week and a 5 day weekend?

  5. Yet another great example of how versatile the projects are that can be made from KNK cutters and KNKUSA materials. Great addition to yet another way to use our cutters. Judy, excellent job. Love how the colors turned out. I also love that saying. You did an excellent job on giving us a great tutorial. I can hardly wait to play. Thanks for sharing.

  6. AWESOME project with AWESOME RESULTS! I love everything about this post. Thanks for the detailed explanation with staged pictures of how you did it…and the pitfalls to watch out for when I give it a try.

  7. This stuff looks AWESOME. The colors on your t-shirt really pop. I’m afraid I hear this ink calling my name! Thank you for introducing this product to us with such a great tutorial.

  8. I’ll have to add this to my list of projects. I can think several things I could use this technique.

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