Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fabric Dyeing 101

I love fashion, but I must confess I don't have the best track record in the clothing department.  When I see things on sale I swear my heart beats faster.  I quicken my step and sift through the racks, oohing and ahhing over the great deals.  Most of the time I end up leaving with something that is ill-fitting in the complete wrong color, all the while exclaiming things like, "can you believe that was only $9.99!?"

After wearing these items a couple of times I eventually come to my senses and get rid of them.  If it's the wrong shape, it has to go.  But if the item fits well and is just the wrong color it's a little sad to say goodbye.

I was so happy to see the February issue of  Lucky Magazine in which they show how to dye your own clothes at home.  I tried it myself this last weekend and am dying (sorry) to show you the results!

So, here's the dress.  Cute polka dots, ruffled skirt and silk sash.  Turns out all of those things are a little too cute when put together.  Also, the cream washed me out.  Bought two years ago (on sale) at the Gap.  Only worn once.

A little bit of time and some dye that cost me $2.78 and this is what I have:

Want to do it yourself?  Here's what you need:

A cotton, silk or synthetic garment
A big pot
A cup of salt
RIT dye (powder or liquid)
Chopsticks or something else to stir the pot
Bleach (for clean up)

The directions in Lucky Magazine were different from those found on the RIT bottle, but I used them anyway and things turned out great!  You can see the article online here.

:::Step One:

Fill your pot with water, add cup of salt and bring to a boil on the stove.

:::Step Two:

Add dye and stir well.  It was a little confusing how much to use, but I used the whole bottle since I was covering up a pattern.  You may only need half for one solid-colored item.

:::Step Three:

Wet your garment in the sink with warm water and wring out the excess.

:::Step Four:

Stir regularly for 40-60 minutes. I did the full 60 minutes since I was trying to cover those polka dots.

Note: You may need to adjust the heat level throughout to make sure it is simmering, but not overflowing.

:::Step Five:

Turn the stove off and let pot cool for 20 minutes or so.

:::Step Six:

Wearing gloves, dump the dye water into the bathtub and let drain.  Rinse the garment in warm water until water runs completely clear.  This part took forever with this dress and the water was cold by the end.  No harm done.

:::Step Seven:

Lucky says to let the garment dry at this point, but the bottle says to wash with a gentle soap. I was really concerned with making sure all that blue dye was gone, so I washed the dress in the bathtub with a little of Mrs. Meyers soap and rinsed again.  Hang the garment in the shower/bathtub with an old towel underneath it and let it air dry overnight.  Voila!

Note: Immediately scrub your bathtub with the bleach and a little bit of powder cleaner if needed.  I also soaked my pot with bleach before putting it in the dishwasher.

And now, the possibilities are endless:


  1. WOW! so impressive! Love what you did, this inspires me!

  2. LOVE IT! Love the navy with the cardigan!

  3. Smartie! It can also be done in the washing machine, but then...you have to clean the washing machine. I think your way is probably better! What great results!

  4. Hmmm...how can I dye everything I own PINK?! Your fashion sense always inspires me. Can't wait to see this navy sundress in the summer, with funky sandals and a fabulous bag!