Lazy Saturdays

how to dye your clothes

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As you guys know, I love dyeing my clothes. Every time I put up a project that I’ve dyed I get comments from you lovely readers about your experiences: The color turns out too light, things turn out blotchy or spotted, or how they’re simply too scared to try.
Well here’s how I dye my clothes! I’ll answer all your problems and hopefully you’ll join me in dyeing your clothes!
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Supplies needed:
Something to dye*
Rit dye (I prefer liquid)**
A bucket
Salt
A tablespoon of laundry detergent
Measuring cup
Measuring spoon
Plastic gloves
Metal spoon or something to stir with
*Check the fabric content. Polyester and Acrylic do not dye using this method.
**You can purchase dye at fabric stores or here. I’ve purchased from the website and have had good experiences.
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Add salt to your bucket. I never measure but it’s recommended to use about 1 cup. Also add your tablespoon of laundry detergent.
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Add the hottest water you can get from your tap to the bucket. Feel free to add boiling water if you’d like to take the time. Add enough water that your garment will be completely covered with the dye bath. Make sure to keep track of how many cups of water you added. You’ll need to know to get the correct color and not end up with something lighter than you expected.
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Fun part: pick your color!!! I always mix several dye colors to get the color I want. I use this guide from Rit to help me out. For my shirt I used red-violet #148. Notice over each color it says the amount of dye to use per one cup of water. Take the number of cups of water you added to calculate how much dye you need and add it.
Example: The color I used called for 1 tablespoon of violet and 1 teaspoon black for every cup of water.For my t-shirt I used ten cups of water so I added ten tablespoons of violet and ten teaspoons of black.
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Stir your mixture up!
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Take your garment and run it under warm water soaking it thoroughly.
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This helps wick the dye to every area of fabric.
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Wring out the water, unwrinkle, and add it to the dye bath.
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Stir.
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And stir some more… This is so important I’m going to write it in bold and in a larger font.
STIR CONSTANTLY!!!
This is how you avoid getting blotches or spots.
You will need to stir for 30 minutes minimum.
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When I dye something, I sit on my counter with my bucket and watch and episode of The Office or Project Runway. Helps the time go by more quickly.
Stir the garment so that the dye is flowing thru every part of the fabric.
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Extra tips:
1. Wear an apron or clothes you don’t mind getting dye on. I love my Harry Potter T for this.
2. Have a rag or paper towel near by. If you aren’t prepared you will splash dye. Things just seem to happen that way sometimes, right? :)
3. Your garment is going to look very dark, maybe even black while it’s in the bucket. Don’t worry. It’s normal. Don’t panic about the color and pull it out early. It will be blotchy and be lighter than you planned. (Compare the next photo with the final picture to see proof of the darker color.)
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When the time is up, put on your gloves and ring out excess dye and run it under warm water. Gradually turn the water to a cooler temperature. Rinse out as much dye as possible.
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Final step: send it to the washing machine. Wash it by itself with a little bit of detergent.
After my garment is washing, I go back to my kitchen and make sure to wipe down everything and clean my sink so nothing ends up a color I don’t want it to be.
Dry your garment how you normally would and you’re done!
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If you’re new to dyeing things, get a couple white t-shirts from the thrift store to practice with.
If you have any questions ask them in the comments!
I’ll answer them there!
Enjoy adding color to your wardrobe!

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13 Comments

Wendy says:

I've dyed several items before with RIT, always using the washing machine method. This works well, except I hate to run one item through the wash 3 times like it calls for. Do you think it is worth it to stir the bucket for 30 mins rather than putting it through the wash? How fast do you stir? lol

Gracey says:

I am excited to try this. I've done the stovetop method but think this will work better for me. Either way, I will definitely remember to stir constantly!

Amy says:

You must have read my mind! I just tried to dye a pair of jeans in the washer and the color did not take at all. I just bleached them so the color is lighter and I think I'll try again using your method. There is 20% polyester in my jeans, so I think I might get the RIT polyester dye and see if that works. I'm thinking emerald green jeans are in my future! Thanks for the inspiration!

boyishchic says:

This is a stellar post! Thank you.. I've been meaning to dye some shoe laces so this is super helpful.
xx. Jillian
boyishchic.blogspot.com

Plami says:

Beautiful new color and a great way to bring life in the plain white T-shirt! Thank you!

Check out my giveaway! http://www.fashionthrill.com/2011/09/diy-tutorial-aleberta-ferretti-inspired.html

XoXo
Plami

Krista says:

@Wendy- I’ve actually never tried the washing machine method. I like the bucket way because I can control the amount of water and dye and nothing ever comes out too light or dark. So I think it’s worth it, especially if I kill the time watching tv… I’m going to watch The Office. May as well put the time to good use :) And I don’t stir it very fast. I just try to keep it constantly moving.

@Amy- Oh my… Emerald jeans. Swoon. I’ve been thinking of green jeans too! You must send me a picture if you do it! And I learned the hard way about polyester… I tried to dye a dress green (color of the day ) and completely wasted my time and dye. Sigh. But I never made that mistake again! Haha!

@Gracey- I used to do the stove top method all the time too! I just would spill dye on EVERYTHING! My pots were never big enough for whatever I was dyeing. Haha! It was bad news. I actually tried to find a huge pot at some thrift store and was unsuccessful so I bought a three dollar bucket a Kmart and dyeing has become so much easier!

Rachel W. says:

I know this is an old post, but dang, it was super-helpful! I have a pair of ucky pants that I wanted to dye (khaki always reminds me of my 'working in a grubby grocery store uniform'!), but I'm terrified to 1. use the stovetop method and ruin a cooking pot, or 2. use the apartment complex washing machine and get caught by a disapproving neighbor. Now I can turn my boring pants into something with more pizzazz: I'm thinking teal or bright red!

Amy says:

I have 2 white dresses the label reads 100% cotton and 100% polyester. I want to dye them black. My daughters wore these dresses for flower girl dresses. The majority of the dresses are cotton then they have a satin banding around the waist and again at the bottom. The under layer is like a slip and at the bottom of the slip part is like Tulle netting that hangs out from under the dress. What kind of dye should I use ployester or cotton dye?

lazysaturdays says:

I would actually use both! The cotton dye won’t dye the polyester portions at all and the polyester dye probably won’t do a great job at dying the natural fibers. If you look into the IDye brand, I believe there are directions on the package for how to dye using both poly and cotton dye at the same time. I’m sure they sell black for both types as well. I’ve found IDye at Joann Fabrics and it’s reasonably priced as well. I hope this helps!

Amy says:

Thank you I will see what I can do. I was actually thinking I wouldn’t mind if the tulle netting stayed white. What is satin made of I didn’t know if the cotton dye would dye the satin band or not?

lazysaturdays says:

Yeah, that’s hard to tell if the satin will dye or not. It could be made of natural, man-made, or a combination of fibers. So it’s kinda a toss up on how it will turn out.

Sara says:

Please help tried this method an got spots I stirred but don’t know what happened was making pink jeans I haven’t dried them yet is there anything I can do to get rid of these random spots of really bright pink

lazysaturdays says:

Hmmm… without seeing what you actually did, it’s hard to be exactly sure what went wrong. So let me throw out some possible things that may have have happened and some solutions. Did you have enough water in your bucket? If I don’t put enough water in to have the garment freely moving around, I will get spots. Another thing that has caused spots for me is if I don’t mix the dye bath thoroughly before I add my garment. Also, adding extra dye after you’ve put your garment in the dye bath can cause spots. Now, solutions. Rit has a dye remover you can try on your pants. Use it to remove the dye and try again. I haven’t really used this stuff, so I sadly can’t give you tips on the dye remover. Be sure to just read the directions thoroughly. If that doesn’t work, you can always dye your pants a darker color. Dyeing clothing is definitely a trial and error process and it rarely turns out exactly how I planned it, but I think that’s part of the fun! You never know what you’re going to get! I hope some of this helped! Let me know if you have more questions! I’d be happy to help!

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