Experiments with Blue Dye

on Make, Style  

I’ve been seeing a lot of hype about DIY dye jobs lately (okay, just on A Pair and A Spare but I figure she knows what she’s talking about) and decided to have a go at it myself. It was sort of a last minute decision so I bought some fabric dye from the local pharmacy and just followed the instructions. Mostly I wanted to dye a Forever New tee that was originally a lovely peach but got washed with some dark colours and ended up grey. Not nice grey, but washed-with-the-darks grey. Since I wasn’t able to get it back to its original shade, I decided to go another colour instead. I chose ocean blue.

In addition to the tee I tried to dye a slightly stained dress and, at the last minute, tried dip-dying a pair of white socks for a subtle ombré effect. The tee came out perfectly; the socks are coloured oddly where they were folded whilst drying so aren’t quite right; the dress, which was polyester, didn’t take the colour at all for now obvious reasons. It was more of an experiment than anything so I’m not too sad about my failed ombré socks, but I think dyeing with fabric is something I need to experiment more with!

Tips which are probably very obvious but weren’t to me:

  • If the dye says that it won’t work on polyester, it won’t work on polyester. It doesn’t matter if you leave it in there for days, it’s like trying to dye a piece of plastic by dipping it in dye. Apparently you can use regular fabric dyes on polyester by using rubbing alcohol instead of water and then ironing it dry without rinsing (effectively melting the colour into the plasticy fabric), but that sounds too difficult and messy for me. Cotton on the other hand takes dye fantastically. My tee and socks are a cotton/elastaine blend.
  • Likewise, polyester thread won’t take dye – if you look at the photo above, the white stitching on my tee remained white. I don’t mind it in this instance, but something to keep in mind.
  • The dye instructions will tell you a weight of fabric you can dye with it – you can exceed this amount, just remember that the colour might not be as strong.
  • Take care when drying items that don’t have seams (like socks) – dye will gather where the fabric is folded, so the result might not be even.

Have you dyed fabric before? I’m very new to it but really want to do some more and especially have another go at the dip dyed effect!

One note

  1. That’s a lovely shade of blue. I was once told that very few clothes manufacturers use cotton thread, because of the strength of polyester. I tried to re-dye black clothes that had faded once, but the rich black only lasted until the first wash, when it all ran away :(

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