Thursday, March 05, 2009

Recession Challenge: Overdye

I’ll bet some of you have already experimented with March’s challenge: overdyeing clothing. Dye is a great way to breathe life into faded items, update your denim or redeem a garment that was originally an unfortunate hue.

I’ve used Dylon and Rit powder dyes and Rit liquid dye. I’ve been happy with both brands and formulations. Rit is commonly available at craft and grocery stores. I buy Dylon dye (for my denim) at Hancock Fabrics.

To get the color you want, be sure to (1) wash your garment before dyeing and (2) use the appropriate amount of dye. If you are using a never before worn or washed item, chances are the fabric has been treated with starch or sizing. This will prevent the dye from penetrating the fibers. Wash the garment with detergent (and rinse) before you dye. If you want an intense hue, be sure to weigh the fabric and use at least the recommended amount. Both Rit and Dylon powder dye packages dye 1/2 pound of fabric. Adult jeans usually weigh more than half a pound, so use two packages for overdyeing each pair of jeans. If you are looking for a very dark color, double the recommended amount. Rit lists recipes for custom colors you can create with Rit powdered dyes on its website. (However, I didn’t have good success with Bittersweet. It came out more orange than brown.)

You can use Rit dyes in the washing machine. The garment needs to agitate in the dye bath for one hour. I have an older machine and no way to adjust the 15-minute agitation cycle, so I set a timer and run down to the basement three times to reset the dial. After dyeing, follow the package directions for cleaning the washer (one cycle with hot water and bleach). If you don’t have a washer available, I have had success using Dylon dyes in a big plastic bucket. I don’t recommend the Rit stove-top method. It’s hard to find a pot big enough for the garment to move freely and then the pot cannot be used for food use again. Some people dye in the bathtub…but I’m afraid it would stain.

Once you’ve got the logistics worked out, the dyeing process takes just a over an hour and is actually very easy! If you are new to overdyeing your clothes, take a trial run with something disposable before you try the process on your favorite jeans.

Some resources:
Overdyeing denim
Dyeing jeans black
Rit Dye
Dylon Dye (by Dritz)

If you have a favorite dye resource, or feature overdyed clothing on your own blog, please leave a link in the comments!

As you complete the challenge, either leave me a comment or send me an email. If you blog about your creation, send me the link. If you’re not a blogger, feel free to send a picture and/or description and I’ll include it in a final round-up. Please note that this isn’t a contest – I’d like everyone to share their results for inspiration, not competition.

A few of my overdyed items:

Overdyed denim skirt, cotton blazer, and cotton dress.

Results from the February challenge will be up soon.


Stephanie N. said...

Dude, you know I'll be all over this challenge. I'm a dye fiend! Not sure if I spelled "fiend" correctly. I look forward to sharing inspiration. I have a whole pile of stuff waiting to be overdyed, including that dopey rose blazer...

My biggest suggestion for fellow readers/bloggers/overdyers: if you dye something, then aren't happy with the color and decide to try Rit's "Color Remover" or similar products containing sodium hydrosulfite, use a dust mask and gloves until it is totally diluted in water. Learn from dumb-chick-who-thought-she-was-invincible-in-grad school. It is a very useful product, as it is gentler than bleach, but more caustic than the dyes you'll see next to it on the shelf in your grocery store.

Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's pictures! This will be pretty cool indeed.

In high school, I dyed a white t-shirt pink. I did it in my bathtub and it didn't stain, but I wouldn't do it in my current tub because it has a different kind of finish.

I think if I dye something again, I'll clean out my kitchen trash can and use that.

Deborah-lee said...

Ooh... this is the challenge I have been hoping for. I have a few things I want to dye and this may just be the push to do it. Thanks for posting your hints it makes me feel less nervous about it.

Can you use Dylon in a washing machine?

Anonymous said...

thanks to your insipiration, ive already overdyed a pair of jeans back to their nice, dark finish! being that it was my first try at dyeing, there are one or two spots that came out a little uneven, but i think im the only one who notices them -- guess i need to get a picture to you!

Anonymous said...

I recently bought some Rit dye, but I didn't see anything in the directions about not using a pot for food after you've used it for stovetop dying. My directions just said to wash the pot immediately with chlorine bleach. Do you know if it's actually dangerous to reuse the pan, even after washing well with chlorine bleach?

Kasmira said...

Lisa - I saw the same instructions on Rit's website and was surprised. Perhaps I'm just repeating an old wive's tale about the pot becoming poisonous? Or maybe Rit has changed its formulation?

Deborah-lee - I'm not sure....the package only gives instructions for dyeing in a bowl or sink.

kiran said...

i am all over this! i've been researching how to dye denim and have gotten some less than encouraging answers, but i will be dying a pair of light gray skinny jeans a lovely lavender!

Kasmira said...

evandine - try washing the jeans. When I dyed the little jacket (pictured above) khaki, it looked spotty after dyeing, but evened out after a washing.

ericaJ said...

Would you recommend fabric dye as a way to restore original color? Such as blacks that have faded to dark greyish?

Kasmira said...

EJ - yes! I have two pair of dark blue denim that I overdyed with black and indigo to recapture their initial, unfaded color. Just be sure the fabric content is compatible with the dye you choose.