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Q&A Monday: Dye! Dye! My Darling!

Oversized Sweater to Sweater Dress Refashion
ReFashion Show at SHE Columbia!

This week’s Q&A Monday is all about dye!

Are you afraid of dyeing?  No no no…not this kind:

Although you can get this cute lil guy on a tshirt here.  :)
Although you can get this cute lil guy on a tshirt here. 🙂

This kind!  🙂

Taste the Rainbow (actually don't...dye is pretty toxic)!
Taste the Rainbow (actually don’t…dye is pretty toxic)!

I get lots of questions about dyeing fabric.  Let’s address them, shall we?  🙂

Q:  I see you dye a lot of stuff in your washing machine.  Doesn’t that stain it?  How do I clean it out?

A:  The washing machine method is my fave.  And I have yet to stain a washing machine (my current landlord is resting easy right now)!  The instructions on the bottle (or box if you choose) tell you what to do.  Once you’re done dyeing/rinsing your future refash, just run the machine on its hottest/fullest setting with detergent and bleach.  If some of the dye got on the lid of the machine, just wipe it off with a paper towel and household cleaning spray.  BAM!  Done!  🙂

It only looks scary!  :)
It only looks scary! 🙂

Q:  How do I know what color I’m going to end up with?

A:  You really don’t.  Well…not entirely.  A lot depends on the fabric.  Natural fibers, like cotton take to dye really well, whereas synthetic fibers like polyester or rayon barely take dye at all.

To get something to take on as much color as possible, make sure you’re dyeing it with as hot of water is safe for the fabric and try to make the dye bath as long as possible (at least 1 hour).

You’ll never be able to dye a pink polyester dress black, but you might be able to get it to turn a purple hue.  So play around a little!  Mix & Match!  Surprise yourself!

Or, if you’re feeling less adventurous, RIT has made a Color Formula Guide just for you! 🙂

Q:  What other dyeing methods should I give a try?

A:  Omigosh…the sky’s the limit, folks!  You could try a funky jar dye like Erica of Recycled Fashion.  Or, you could do a fun dip dye!  If your worried about the toxicity of artificial dye, you could try a much safer tea dye.

Oversized Sweater to Sweater Dress Refashion
ReFashion Show at SHE Columbia!

21 thoughts on “Q&A Monday: Dye! Dye! My Darling!”

  1. I have never dyed anything in my life but thought it could be an easy solution when I found a mysterious ink stain on my favorite orange sweater. Any suggestions on dying the sweater to revitalize it’s original color and cover up the stain?

    • Eeeee…You won’t be able to dye it to be the same color if it’s a dark ink stain, BUT Try this: Spray hairspray on the stain, and rub at it with a cloth. That’s worked for me in the past.

  2. I just read about how to dye polyester.. I am working on something right now… It began looking like something a hippies fairy godmother would wear… Now it looks like a hillbilly wedding dress. :-/ Because its so fregging white. So I have to dye it of I will simply never wear it.

    Heres a link:

  3. I bought some white stuff at G-will {mostly cotton, but one i think is part polyester}, that i intend to dye TOMORROW with some Rit. I need them to be a deep kelly green, or close to it, but could not find the colour i needed, so i am going to use mostly apple green, with some dark green added to deepen the colour. I have about, i think, 4 pieces that i want to dye this colour, so i am going to do them one at a time to see how they turn out. {Decide if i need to add more of one colour or the other, or leave them in a longer/shorter period of time, etc.} …I am nervous, but at least the colour does not need to be “exact”, just “as close as possible”…& i will be wearing them late next week to a quilt show which i am attending with my mom!! Send me best wishes, Jillian! You have totally inspired me to try my hand at this!! 😎

  4. Rit dye is… well it’s Rit dye. It tries to be an all purpose dye and is easy to find and is relatively easy to use, but the colour choices are limited and it’s not as effective as some of the other options. Paula Burch explains it much better than I can at Her site has tons of information about dyeing of all kinds.
    If you just want to try something quick, Tulip dyes are available at Walmart and Michaels and are better dyes, though black might be harder to find.

    Tulip dyes (and other fiber reactive dyes) have many different ways to apply the dyes, check for lots of tips and information. Another great site is Dharma Trading (, they have tons of different dyes and information about dyeing as well.

  5. I needed black jeans for work so grabbed a pair at Goodwill. They were a bit faded & I needed true black. Box of Rit dye & they are perfect. Nice, rich black with NO fading and NO rubbing off on my hands (in food service now). Next to dye the shirt I got there that is black stripes…want an all over black. Hey, $2.50 for a Tommy Bahama polo? I’ll chance it! Also, try kool-aid with silk or wool. It works only with animal fibers, but you wouldn’t believe the silks! Yellow, green, grape that is stunning. Don’t like the red but am going to try going over it with pink lemonade.

  6. Thank you so much for all these tips. Before finding your blog I never would have considered buying something that had a good shape but a bad color. I found a cute shirt about a month ago at the thrift store and finally bit the bullet and dyed it today. It turned out wonderful! Thank you so much for the inspiration.

  7. I would love to try dyeing – but I have a front loading washer, which I am sure will not work as the clothing would not be fully immersed. Could you do a little tutorial on a substitute method? Thanks! Oh, and thank you for all your inspirational posts!

  8. I have a lovely cotton cream colored top which, due to the fact that I’m a mom of four and a prechool teacher, wound up with an unlovely stain. I’m far too chicken to dye in a bucket (because one of the four kids would surely knock it over), so it’s a big reassurance that dyeing in the washer causes no ill efeects to the washer! I think you have saved my shirt!!

  9. Everytime I have used RIT it bleeds horribly and looks tragically faded after the first few washes. I have used Dylon with great success though! It is a powder and I find mine in the Walmart craft section or at the fabric store. It is not expensive and is just as easy to use. One of my first projects with it was to dye some prefold diapers and years later with tons of washes under their belts the color is still nice.

    • How weird! I’ve had a lot of success with RIT. I wash all my clothes in cold water though. Are you washing yours in warm? Maybe the difference is caused by something stranger…like soft/hard water? Hmmmmnnn…


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