October 22, 2014

Dress Dyeing

Disclaimer: This post is not about quilting but an adventure in dying clothing and is wordy, be warned!

About 5 years ago I bought a bunch of bridesmaid dresses from J. Crew during a clearance sale, they each cost $20 - $30 each and where originally about $180. A great deal I couldn't resist. These two were both a very pale pink, and ended up looking horrible with my skin tone. Not even sure why I would buy these colors! After doing some research on dying fabrics, this weekend I finally overcame my nerves and dyed them both. Here is the before photo.


The dress on the left is the perfect fit all girls dream about and is all cotton. The dress on the right also fits great but is silk. According to the tutorials silk is harder to dye, so I didn't have high hopes. Rit brand dye had the best reviews, was the oldest, and cheapest. I chose the colors teal and wine, in the liquid format. To dye the fabrics I picked up a couple cheap plastic trash cans, if the dye stained them it wouldn't be a loss. I also used the whole bottle of dye instead of the 1/2 bottle in the directions and only used about 2 gallons for each dye, just enough water for the dresses to move around freely and be covered in liquid. This made the solution stronger and the final result more vibrant. 



I first took the wine colored dress (silk) out of the dye after two hours of soaking and realized the color was not even after the dress was washed. Conclusion: need try to re-dye and keep in the dye longer? It got a new dye bath this time staying in all day and night (24 hours total). Probably not the best for the silk but at this point it was already "ruined" and worth trying to save. Well, it was worth the re-dye. The second time it came out awesome. The dress shrunk up in length, so the slip will need to be hemmed but that is the only issue! The color came out nice and rich and looks great with my skin tone. (Sorry I have no photos of me in the dress, it was too cold out to futz with the timer!)


The teal colored dress (cotton) stayed in the dye overnight, about 18 hours total. Each hour, the dress got moved around to assure the dye was reaching all the fabric. The next morning it got rinsed and washed. The results were amazing. In one night this dress went from never will wear this, to when is my next formal event?!  There are some spots the color didn't take as well. These are only notable when really looking at the fabric. The natural sheen of the fabric makes it hard to tell even in direct sunlight. Conclusion: keep dress in dye for at 18 - 24 hours although the directions say 30 - 60 minutes! The silk sash didn't take the dye well, but I really like the marbling affect. 


You can see in the picture how close the original color is to my skin tone ... eek and I am still sporting a tan from this summer! Overall, this project was a huge success.  I now love both dresses, they are fun colors that work well with my pale complexion. The Rit dye was easy to use, although use gloves because it does stain skin. My left hand has had a wine color tint for a day or two, oops. Now I am wondering what else I can dye?  

- Patch & Chels

16 comments:

  1. Bravo! These both came out great! My mother was a regular user of Rit dye to revive clothes.

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  2. If you want to try more dyeing, check out Dharma Trading at http://www.dharmatrading.com/. They're the best source for dyes, PFD cotton fabric, wearables for dyeing, etc., and information.

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  3. The dresses look great now, what a transformation!

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  4. These turned out so well - I love the colors you chose, especially the teal! Awesome! :)

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  5. Beautiful colours you've chosen. Really like the green!

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  6. Wow! That is definitely a major improvement. You look really cute in the dress you're modeling. I can't imagine the original flesh tone/made of recycled materials and suitable for carrying groceries color looking good on anyone.

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  7. I really like how the pink shows at the bottom of the dress. Looks almost like a design feature!

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  8. What a great way to save dresses you wouldn't have been able to use otherwise! I especially love the teal one, and the slight difference in the colour of the sash is great!

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  9. Great work! I love those pale colours too and often find myself drawn to them in shops, but they don't like my skin tone either.

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  10. Wow, what an improvement! Fantastic results.

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  11. How fun! When I was in college I had to dye various fabrics for a class (I have a degree in theatre so it was part of a costuming class). It's very intimidating at first but do it once and it can become addictive! I remember having a pair of painter's overalls in a cream color which I never wore. Dyed them a teal color (close to your dress) and I wore them ALL the time.

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  12. These look gorgeous! I always love teal, but I'm feeling extra jealous of your wine dress. Success! Also, for even dyeing, we've found that squeezing and swishing and scrunching the clothes in the dye bath can help, with gloves on of course!

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  13. I have never thought of this and this is a great idea! I have some dresses I think I could spruce up but I am sure it will take me time as it did you to finally get the nerve to finally dye them! Both dresses are lovely!

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  14. Deeper colours are much better! I'm pale too and know how wishy washy colours do not work. The dresses look so good after your dyeing efforts. The teal one is a great fit!

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  15. I’ve been searching for some decent stuff on the subject and haven't had any luck up until this point, You just got a new biggest fan!..
    Bridesmaid Dresses

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