Leftover Dye? Give This a Try!

The Best
The Good Life Dress

When I found this lovely Indian tunic at the thrift shop, I was super-happy.  I LOVE tunic dresses, and figured this one could be worn as-is.

Seems pretty straightforward, right?
Seems pretty straightforward, right?


My eyes must be going.  :/  When I got my tunic home and took a closer look, I saw why someone probably donated it.


Oh no!
Oh no!


That’s right.  Someone ignored the “Dry Clean Only” tag and tossed this once-beautiful tunic into their washing machine.  :/  The dye was everywhere, and very noticeable.  :/




I hadn’t planned on doing a refashion of this piece, but I saw no other way to make this dress wearable.  I dug into my dye stash for the answer to my problem.

First, I started wadding up the dress into a jar, sprinkling some black powdered dye into the folds…


You'll do fine!
You’ll do fine!


Sprinkle sprinkle!
Sprinkle sprinkle!


Unfortunately, this box had been opened before and only had a little bit of dye left…not enough to add dye all the way up.  Undaunted, I grabbed a bottle of dye that was almost used up.

Eh...it's all I had!
Eh…it’s all I had!


Just a dab!


As I am an honest blogger, I’ll just let you know that I didn’t think this color combo was going to work too well together, but Orange and Black were all I had on hand.  I crossed my fingers and poured some hot water into the jar.

Sending good vibes!
Sending good vibes!


I closed the lid (which turned out to be a terrible idea) and left my project on the counter while I had lunch with a friend.



When I got back, the lid had sealed shut! I COULD NOT pry it open.  I tried using a butter knife and a screwdriver.  I even tried submerging the jar in hot water.  Then I tried cold water.  Nothing worked!  I started to panic, as I didn’t want my new dress to be sitting in its dye bath for too long.

I eventually broke the jar with a hammer.  No lie.  Drastic times call for drastic measures, friends.

At this point, my dress was thoroughly saturated with dye, so I dropped it my washing machine for a couple of cycles to rinse all the excess dye away.

Here’s the result of my labors:



You can see where this tunic has slitted sides (hence my underdress peeking out in the pic above).  The dye job ended up being more dramatic than I had intended, but I actually really like it!

I especially like how the neckline turned out.


I dig!
I dig!


My buddy Ryan liked it too!


Hi Ry!
Hi Ry!


We hopped over to this tasty place for a treat:


While there, I met this cool young lady who told me she was just starting to get into sewing after reading my blog…which did my heart a world of good.  :)



Fun times in a fun new frock!  :)



2.1 (42.13%) 235 votes

72 thoughts on “Leftover Dye? Give This a Try!

    1. I agree – this one is a fail. I thought she’d use dye remover & at least TRY to clean it up instead of ruining it. Oh well.

    1. Thanks! It’s set! I rinsed it in my machine really thoroughly (Yikes…need to add that step to the post), so it’s not going anywhere. Plus I wash everything I own in cold water to be on the safe side.

  1. I get the feeling this might be one of those “What the heck was I thinking?!” moments you look back on in the future… it looks like a half burnt scrap of sofa covering you’ve rescued from a dumpster! Darling! I LOVE your stuff usually but I gotta be honest with this one, eeeek! XXXxxxxXXXXxxxxx

  2. Just a note about the jar…if that kind of thing happens to you again, you can get the lid unstuck by reheating the jar (like in a pot of hot water) The lid will come right open.

    I know this because I’ve gotten a pot lid stuck on super tight before. Ahem.

  3. I really love what you do with Goodwill finds but this not so much. I do like the neckline though. The rest just looks messy.
    I miss your regular posts. :(

  4. I like it, especially the neckline and the contrast of the black stripes at the bottom. I could also imagine it re-made a couple different ways (sleeveless, skirt, shirt…).

  5. 5 stars for effort on this one! It’s not a style/color I prefer, but hey, not everything somebody makes is perfect. :)

    (plus it might be spectacular at Halloween!!)

  6. Interesting. Edgy, I’d call it. Sorry that your jar had to pay the ultimate price. Thank you for sharing your creativity. I’ve missed you and your sense of humor. Please give Douglas a gentle hug for me.

  7. Orange is the new black… I thought you knew exactly what you were doing when you chose those colors! I’d love to see a refash of this refash since so far the feedback seems to not be in favor of this first attempt.

  8. Love your sense of adventure and style, but to be honest, tie a belt around the before and I like that one better. But thanks for the whimsy!

  9. I love it! It’s got a real hippie vibe, done in the kitchen exactly like we used to do way back when. you never knew what you were going to get and that’s what made one of a kind pieces.

  10. It is interesting…I think overall, it’d look better in the after photo if you had on black leggings & boots. To me, the flip-flops interfere too much! Thanks for the tips…I’ve dyed things before, but only in a pail of water! jodie

  11. Not crazy about this refashion.
    Btw maybe if you had poked a hole in the lid (assuming this was a plastic jar) it would have reduced the presssure that was probably created by the hot water and you could then open it.

  12. Sweet one!! I adore your refashions, but this is the 1st time I have to say….you broke that fabulous jar for THAT mess? So sad. Not wearable, IMO

  13. Where have you been??? Today it the day after my birthday, so what a treat to find your blog post! I always love to see what you do! I think its different and cool!

  14. I actually like it. I agree that the black leggings, or boots would add to the look. I would like to see the bottom a bit closer, to see just how the design looked through the dye. I think it’s a winner, and I agree you look good in most all of your creations!

  15. I like the refash (I like its vibe and it looks great on you), but I’m even more impressed with your ability to handle the negative comments…I think I’d be a sobbing mess after reading some of these. Go you!!

    1. It’s cool, Carrie. :) I’ve done about 800 refashions. Everyone has their own personal taste and opinion. I honestly welcome ALL feedback as it’s ALL valuable. :)

  16. You have a way with dye. In the future rather than breaking the jar, just flip the wire latch on the jar then pull out on the tab on the rubber ring gasket. This will create an air gap and release the vacuum inside the jar. Congratulations on successfully canning a dress!

  17. Hi, been wondering how you are travelling. Great to hear from you, I have missed you. You are looking happy, lovely and healthy! I’m always curious to see what you have been up to! Go girl, be fearless! Love and admiration! Jillian :-)

  18. Love your stuff, but this is a no. It looks like the dress got run over by some messy AV tires. It was better before, but I still love your creativity when you see something that someone else has discarded. Keep refashioning, girl! Just don’t do this again.

  19. Wow – no wonder Jillian doesn’t post as much as she used to when people spill their bile in the comments section. You don’t have to like her creations but you also don’t have to post mean comments because you don’t like it. I’m appalled and astounded.

    Jillian – I think you’re a star.

  20. Well I’ll be darned, that did turn out nice,looks espicially good with your coloring..your secret is taking the chance to just go for it..pouring black powder followed by orange liquid did not make sense but it Did at the end of the day..I like it.

  21. “ply and dye” :D
    i like the bottom part of the tunic, but not the neckline, the black spot on it looks too random and dirty (to my opinion), compared to the awesome big black stripes on the bottom. i’d have cut the neckline and/or replaced it with an other piece of braid.

  22. I admire that you have the confidence and personality to wear this sort of quirky-cute piece. My personal sense of style is very traditional, but I love seeing other people look and feel fabulous in the trends and styles which are not suited to me.
    I also want to say it cheered me up to see a new post from you in my feed. (^-^)

  23. You are fearless – and I love this on you. It’s bold and unique and kind of reminds me of an Oriental print now. Good stuff!

  24. Jillian, although this wasn’t my favourite creation of yours, I just have to say, I love your blog! I got ridiculously excited when I saw this update – I have missed your posts so much! Keep doin’ whatcha been doin’!

  25. Awesome to see you rocking yet another refashion. I echo all who’ve said they have missed your posts. I have, too.

    I LOVE this refashion AND I love it on you.

  26. I love what happened at the bottom – very edgy. Definitely prefer this over the “before”. Boots or maybe Converse would be great with this for fall (does the South get fall temps before December?).

    Your new hair is gorgeous!

  27. Hmmm. I like the bottom. Not sure about this as a whole. BUT anyway! Let’s get a little off subject and say I love the blog’s new look. And recently I have been combing through your blog posts for midlandsbiz to get my Jillian fix (do it ladies, it’s enjoyable reading. A couple of faves: ‘Let’s Not Be Friends’ and ‘A Jerk, A Jawline, and a Writer Without Words’). I’m loving your humor and candor. And as far as hair goes (re: ‘I Like My Short Hair’), I have to say my tab page for refashionista.net on my Chrome browser is a screen shot of the old layout when you had the portrait by Joshua Beard at the top of the page. You with no hair at all (supporting St. Baldrick’s Foundation)… and what? You are totally gorgeous, girlfriend, that’s what! Ladies, check it out here if you missed it http://artbysusanlenz.blogspot.com/2010/07/bald-is-beautiful-decision-portrait.html and check out Josh’s work here http://www.jbeardfoto.com/portrait_gallery/#.VgNf78v2C00. I hope you don’t mind, Jillian, but I had to give some proper kudos.

  28. I like the black lies mixing with the print of the dress but the top part of the dress, jus dirty like you just came out of living on a trash dumpster , or you just bought that dress from homeless

  29. I vaguely remember, from Physics class, that pressure and volume are inversely proportional when held at a constant temperature. You created a HUGE vacuum by sealing the jar with hot water in it. Sometimes it pays off to pay attention to science.

  30. I love the colors and thought it very clever of you to run with the bleeding colors of the original motif. Black tights and your leopard booties could be cute with it. Maybe the fall colors with bare legs and sandals is throwing folks off.

  31. Thanks for the idea. My daughter was crying because she now hates the dress she bought at a thrift store (without me) for Homecoming next weekend. I just tried dyeing for the first time and the result was awesome! Thanks!

Leave a Reply