How to Dye Fabric (Immersion Dye Technique Tutorial)
How to Dye a Dress
Dyeing a dress can transform it from something you never wear to your new favorite garment. You can choose any color you wish, or even mix colors to create the perfect shade. Take care to protect yourself and your workspace from the dye, and clean up as soon as you are finished.
Choose dye created for your specific fabric.Dye adheres differently to different fabrics, so read the garment tag to figure out what your dress is made from. Some companies, like Rit, make one dye for both natural and synthetic fibers, while other companies, like iDye, have one dye for natural fabrics and one for synthetic fabrics. Make sure you have enough dye to color the fabric to the desired shade.
- Keep in mind that natural fabrics, like cotton, wool, silk, and linen, are more easily dyed than synthetic fabrics, like nylon, polyester, and acrylic.
Protect your workspace.Spread a drop cloth, plastic sheeting, or several layers of newspaper out on your workspace. Keep paper towels handy so you can immediately clean up any drips or spills.
Wear old clothes and gloves.Choose clothes that you don’t mind getting dye on, or wear an apron over your clothes. Wear rubber gloves to keep the dye from soaking into your skin.
Soak your dress in warm water.It’s important to completely wet your dress before attempting to dye it so that the dye will be absorbed evenly. Fill a bucket or bathtub with warm water and submerge your dress until the fabric is completely soaked.
Fill a bucket or stainless steel sink with very hot water.Don’t attempt to dye fabrics in a porcelain sink or tub, as they may become stained. Ensure the bucket or sink is large enough for the garment to fit in loosely. Fill a bucket or stainless steel sink with the hottest water possible from the faucet. The amount of water you need will depend on how much dye you are using, so refer to the package instructions.
- If your dress is made of wool, use warm rather than hot water to keep the fabric from felting.
Add the recommended amount of dye.Read the instructions on the package to determine how much dye to add based on how much water you used. Pour the dye into the water and use a stainless steel spoon to thoroughly mix the dye and water together.
- If you don’t have a stainless steel spoon, choose a wooden yardstick or other stirring implement that you don’t mind getting dye on.
Stir in ¼ cup (59 mL) of salt for cotton or linen garments.Add ¼ cup (59 mL) of any kind of salt to the bucket or sink for each gallon of water and stir the mixture thoroughly. Salt helps the dye adhere to the fabric.
Add ¼ cup (59 mL) of vinegar for wool or silk garments.Stir in ¼ cup (59 mL) of vinegar to the bucket or sink for each gallon of water to help the fabric absorb the dye evenly and completely.
Coloring Your Dress
Submerge the dress in the dye.Carefully add your dress to the water and dye mixture, making sure that you don’t splash the dye out of the bucket or sink. Ensure all the fabric is completely submerged.
Stir the mixture constantly for 10 to 25 minutes.Use a stainless steel spoon or other stirring implement to stir the mixture constantly back and forth as well as up and down. Constant stirring ensures that the fabric is evenly dyed. The color you are trying to achieve will dictate how long you let the dress soak in the dye.
- Check the color of the fabric every 5 minutes or so. Some of the dye will rinse out, so let the fabric soak until it is a shade or two darker than desired.
Remove your dress from the bucket or sink.Take care not to let the dress drip on unprotected surfaces. Move the dress to the other side of the sink or to the washing machine. Ensure the washing machine is empty before adding your dyed dress.
- Don’t rinse your dress in the shower or tub if it is made of porcelain because the dye may stain it.
Rinse your dress until the water runs clear.Begin with hot water and gradually move to cold water to help the dye set. Alternatively, you could use the rinse cycle of your washing machine to get the dye out.
Hang the dress up to dry.Lay newspaper or a drop cloth under the dress to catch errant drips. Choose a plastic hanger so that any lingering dye doesn’t transfer to the hanger. Let the dress dry completely, and keep in mind that it will appear darker when wet.
Clean your bucket or sink immediately.Now that your dress is dyed, you need to clean up your workspace. Rinse your bucket or sink with hot water, then scrub it clean using a sponge or rag and soapy water. If you let the dye sit in the sink or bucket instead of cleaning it immediately, it may stain the surface.
Wash your dyed garment separately in cold water.The first few times you wash your dress, you should wash it alone or with dark colors that won’t be affected if the dye leaches out of the fabric. Use a mild detergent and set your washing machine to the cold cycle to help set the dye, as warm water may cause the color to fade.
Video: New Dress A Day - How to Dye Your Clothes (Dye Tutorial)
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