Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fabric Dye is Scary Except, Never Mind, it's Not.

I've always been somewhat intimidated by fabric dye, probably because I'm afraid of spilling it on a pile of clean laundry or a light-colored rug, or permanently staining my hands green.  Or dyeing something unevenly or hating the new color.  Or a messy, unchangeable combination of the above.

That being said, I needed a dress to wear to a wedding and didn't want to buy a new one.  I had a Boden dress that I bought last summer but never really loved.  And I decided it had too much white in it to wear to a wedding as a guest.  (Fun fact: I wore this dress to Jaisa's rehearsal dinner, where I gave a toast and then promptly drank like 20 glasses of wine).

Hello, dress, I am about to rock your world:

So, on a whim, I picked up two packets of Rit dye at the craft store.  I wanted a punchy pinky-orange.  Not sure why I grabbed "Scarlet" when going for pink, but, hey, it all turns out okay in the end.

This is where I started to get nervous.  Opening the packets of dye and setting them free in my house.  Or, more specifically, setting them free in my washing machine.  Laundry is the only household chore that I don't mind, so I certainly didn't want it to turn all of my whites orange in the future.  Fortunately, the Rit packages and the internet reassured me that I would be just fine as long as I ran a bleach cycle after my dye job, so I went for it.  I filled a washing machine (set at "small" load) with hot water, these two dye packets, and a cup of salt.  I dampened my dress and tossed it in as well and let the machine run for 30 minutes (this involved some tweaking with the wash cycle halfway through).  Then I let it all rinse and pulled out the dress to scope it out.  I ran it under cold water, as per the Rit instructions, and then washed it once more in the machine (after I ran that all-important bleach cycle which, as promised, cleared all dye out of my machine).

Here's the dress after this easy and cheap (under $5!) makeover:

I think it's so much more interesting like this!  The only problem I ran into was the still-white zipper post-dye...

...which was nothing a red Sharpie couldn't fix (forgive the picture, but my camera refused to take a non-blurry shot of this):

In the words of Borat, "Great success"!  A "new" dress that cost very little and makes me look tan.  I think I will be experimenting with dye more often, now that I know it is easy enough and my washing machine won't suffer too much.  In less than an hour and less than five dollars, I made some magic...

Anybody else well versed in the fine art of dying fabric?  Let us know and stay hip!


  1. Caitlin - you're amazing! Rit dye scares (scared?) the HECK out of me, but suddently I'm inspired to buy cheap white jeans and turn them pale yellow.

    Why didn't the inside of the dress take color? Do certain fabrics not absorb it?

  2. I believe it works better with natural fabrics - the outer part of the dress is silk but the liner seems to be polyester-y. It did get some color, but not much. Let me know how the jeans go!

  3. Wow, that would have terrified me. The boys recently did some tie-dye and I'm chewing my fingernails off each week when it comes time to wash them. The dress turned-out great!

  4. Love this. What a great transformation! Its dangerous when I start to dye something... I just keep throwing more "schmeh" items into the pot! You have to check out jaquard's brand of dyes- called idye. They are super punchy and vibrant colors ( you can even do fluorescent green). They sell them at blick/pearl/utrecht.

  5. I too am scared of dye for pretty much the same reason, I do not need bright green/blue/red items of clothing after a white wash :-). However looking at that dress...I may be forced to try!


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