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Dyeing Clothing

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A girl wearing a red shirt.
It is important to determine whether your fabric will absorb the color you want to dye it, and the best method to apply it. This guide is about dyeing clothing.
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By 8 found this helpful
October 11, 2010

The thrift store was having a half price sale last week and I found a very nice knit top (either 100 percent cotton, or cotton/poly) for $2.50. It had black trim that I liked, and a pattern with black plus several shades of red and pink that I thought were too bright. I almost passed it up, but I decided to bring it home and run it through a couple baths of black dye. It worked like a charm to considerably darken the colors to shades of purple and burgundy, something I'll enjoy wearing. It even looks more "seasonal" for fall!

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By ChloeA from OH

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

October 10, 20070 found this helpful

Cheap alternative dyes from the ThriftyFun community.

Koolaid or Jello For Animal Fibers

Koolaid powder works great with animal fiber based clothing! There's tons of tutorials online about it. There's also been people who've dyed with Jello powder on craftster. Cotton and plant fibers need an acid dye, or somethng like RIT dyes. They're a little bit harder to do.
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By Cfbandit

Teas and Spices

I have used cumin powder to dye things saffron yellow and tea works for a beige.

Rit Is To Dye For

I am in a real 'dyeing' mode right now. I buy clothes and linens in the thrift store and dye them. Recently dyed a pretty sheer ruffled white top (plus bra and camisole) a very pale blue/green. It turned out great. Rit Dye is inexpensive here in the States, only a couple of bucks for a box/bottle. The bottle stuff is better, the powdered stuff in the box is hard to get dissolved and can leave darker spots where the undissolved powder touches the fabric. If you can only find the powdered kind in the color you want, prepare it by mixing it well into hot water, then filter it using a coffee filter.

By Claudia, MD

Anything That Stains Will Dye

Think about the kind of things that stain clothes and you'll have some great ideas for dyes. Most of these suggestions are for cotton fabrics, most others are too hard to dye. One that works well is Freshie or Koolaid powder, unsweetened. Or beet juice (nice pink or purple), onion skins (golden yellow) All these dyes need what is called "fixing". After the fabric reaches the color you want, rinse it in warm water in which you have dissolved washing soda (also called borax), swishing the fabric though the rinse until color stops bleeding out of it. Dry by laying flat or hanging. Be careful, it can stain floors etc, so use old rags or paper. When dry, try drying again in a dryer as hot as the fabric will take.

By Thriftmeg

Food Coloring, Rit, Coffee Or Tea

One thing I can think of is to use food coloring with vinegar, much as we use to dye Easter eggs. You can also try Rit. Use the hottest water you have and rinse with cold water. Dry in dryer to set dye or if have no dryer, hang to dry, then set color with iron. Use bleach and run washer through an empty cycle with laundry detergent immediately after use of dye.

Also, if the fabric is cotton, a strong coffee or tea can be used to make it look old or to give it a tan or brown look, mix the tea or coffee in water and soak item until desired color is reached. Also try any berry jucie, or even grape juice with vinegar to set.

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By Martha in TN

Post your own tips below.

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October 10, 20070 found this helpful

I remember my mother using a cold water rinse with salt. She said it would "set the dye". She did this with all the red garments she bought me and the fabrics before she sewed them. In those days not all fabrics were color fast and would fade on a person's undies if caught out in the rain or if you perspired too heavily. Precautions had to be taken and salt was what worked for my mama.

BTW I love lace aged with tea stain!

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October 10, 20070 found this helpful

Yes I agree with MartyD, it would best if u set the dyes with something called a mordent. Salt, washing soda and also, believe it or not, rusty nails!

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October 10, 20070 found this helpful

Everyone is forgetting the fun stuff, like cooking onion skins (nice golden yellow), beets for a purplish blue and fleshy green leaves(a soft clouded green)You have to pound these last and put the fabric in without adding too much water.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 6, 20070 found this helpful

Aurorasilk.com is a natural dye supplier in Portland, Oregon.

The owner Cheryl Kolander has wonderful tutorials on the

web. I worked for her for a year and answered email, etc.

Natural dying is so much fun...

There are also great tutorials on the web.

I found an alternative source for alum is Oriental food

stores. It comes in chunks which have to be dissolved of

course. Where alum is the appropriate mordant use 10-25%

by weight to dry textile. If you are just experimenting,

start low and work your way up and save your samples.

Alum is THE mordant for wool.

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 22, 20090 found this helpful

I am trying to dye some curtains white. They were originally an off white. Respond at sandyholy6 AT aol.com

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February 14, 2017

I purchased a bridesmaid dress and never got to use it due to the wedding being called off. Now I'm stuck with a dark charcoal color dress that I was told was not my color. So I was thinking of dyeing it, but am not sure what color that I could use that would work on transforming it from gray to? Any help?

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By 0 found this helpful
January 13, 2011

Can a green cami be dyed to hunter green, if it is 8% spandex, 46% cotton, and 46% modal by using dye?

By Syd from Goldendale, WA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 15, 20110 found this helpful

Probably, yes. Go to DharmaTrading.com and ask their customer service department to recommend the best type of dye to use on this kind of fabric. I'm not an expert, but I think you might be able to dye your cami hunter green. Not sure if RIT dye will work, you can try it, but I would check with someone at DharmaTrading first.

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January 15, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with the previous poster, consult someone who deals in dye products. I am sure there is also a customer service number on the Rit dye box as well. Cotton always dyes well, but I have had good luck dying a satin bathrobe that was some synthetic material.

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January 17, 20110 found this helpful

Yes! I'm a costume designer for the theatre, and I do this a lot; buy clothing in thrift stores and over-dye them to make them into costumes. RIT dye is a multi-fiber dye, so it will work on your cami's various fibers, but you'll need to do it a pot of very hot water in order to dye the synthetic portions. And there's a good chance your cami will shrink a little bit. RIT makes a Hunter Green shade (not in their current palette, but still plenty left in grocery stores, etc.)

Be sure to follow their directions! You'll want to use the correct proportion of salt to set your dye. Good luck!

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January 17, 20110 found this helpful

You can go to RIT on line, they have a free booklet that can be gotten and used with lots of tips.

With a variety of fabric content, you can't always be exact on a certain color, but in the general color should still be good.

Wear rubber gloves and an apron.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 13, 2011

I am going to dye some shirts and I only want them to be light purple. I want one large one to be dark purple and then the rest to be light purple. Should I add more water to do the others or does dying one dark take out some of the dye properties? If I do them separately, should I just use one pack for the light? I am doing tiny t-shirts, how many do you think I can do to get them light purple? The shirt I want to be dark is an adult sweater type knit, LG size, 100% cotton tank top. The ones I want to be light are light blue 100% cotton tiny t-shirts.

By Stephaniwize from Phoenix, AZ

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Answers

January 14, 20110 found this helpful

I would think that if you put them all in the dye bath, then check the colors periodically, you can remove the ones that you want to be lighter colored sooner, and just leave the ones you want darker in longer. The dye packet should tell you about how many shirts you can do with one packet.

www.ritdye.com may have some answers. Good luck!

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January 15, 20110 found this helpful

I don't use dye. I use acrylic paint. It is much more permanent and you can get any color you want, mix whatever color you want. I thin out the paint with a little water in a small cup, and then I pour warm water into a large bucket, adding the diluted paint to the warm water. Stir well, add the garment, stir again for a couple minutes to distribute the color evenly. Wearing plastic gloves, remove the clothing, squeezing out as much water as you can. Hang on a line until completely dry. (This is what makes the color permanent) It will be a little stiff and smelly!! Wash and dry as usual, and the smell is gone, the color lasts forever, (no fading) and it's not stiff. I swear, I think using the paint helps the fabric last longer. I have tie-dyed using the paint, and the areas that got no paint wore out!

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January 17, 20110 found this helpful

I do this a lot. I'm a costume designer for the theater. My experience has been that the first garment to go in will soak up the most dye in the dye-bath, so whatever you want to be the darkest, put that in first. Get it to the shade you want it (remember that wet cotton will look darker, wet.) and then put your other things in next, checking them frequently. I do this a lot to get the most bang out of my dye-bath, even adding other colors to extend it further! But I always go from darkest shade to lightest, since the bath looses intensity as the various fibers soak up the dye. Good luck to you!

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January 17, 20110 found this helpful

Depending on fabric content on what the final color will be. Dye them separately to ensure each is what color you want. Any piece with even a little synthetic is going to stay lighter. Cotton will be the best absorber. I do a lot of dying of things, from window sheers to husband's work shirts/jeans.

When you are done dying them ( I have a top loader so use my washer and sud saver tub for capture of dye to keep redoing with same) Make sure you wash with a cup of salt to set the dye. Screw ups can be undone with the Rit Dye Remover. If you are redoing the dye job yearly (I do the curtains), un-dye them then use new dye. A pain of a job, but cheaper way to recycle and keep things from the landfills.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 16, 2016

I have these stripped stockings I'm trying to turn yellow.

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Answers

October 18, 20160 found this helpful

I assume the word you meant to use was striped stockings. Are they white and black stripes? I'm not sure you can dye them yellow because stockings are often synthetic and will dissolve in the bleach you would need to make them white first before dyeing them yellow. But if have white stripes, you could try fabric dye markers to make them black and yellow.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 13, 2015

I was wondering if you could please help me. I have a grey dress with a white collar. I want to match the collar with dress color. What should I do to achieve this? The fabric is viscose.

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October 14, 20150 found this helpful

There are two answers to your question, one if you know how to sew and the second if you don't. If you don't know how to sew you're going to be far happier (and save money!) by taking your dress to a seamstress or tailor. Either will know how to do the work.

If you sew even if just a little, the answer is too long to post here;) Your best bet is to go to your local library for a good sewing book - Singer Complete Photo Step-by-Step (variations on that name), Creative Press Sewing 101, Simplicity Sewing, or Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing are all good titles and will walk you through all the steps (matching the fabric and colour, choosing the correct needle, thread, and machine settings, more). Also excellent are the Butterick-Vogue sewing books, the Colette book...check the table of contents and index to see if the book addresses 'up-cycling', 'refashioning', 'changing/replacinga collar'.

Your next stop should be YouTube for free video tutorials - these are excellent companions to the books.

Good luck, cute dress as is but a same colour collar would be just as cute and changing the collar isn't really hard if you can follow book instructions!

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October 15, 20150 found this helpful

It is a cute dress, Killer, but I can empathize with you wanting to change the colour. White collars and cuffs seem to show dirt more quickly, dont they (particularly foundation, if you wear it)? I dont know a thing about fabric dyes, but it is an option. That said, I cant imagine dying the collar without getting some dye on the dress itself and matching the dye colour to the dress might be difficult. The other thing which occurs to me is fabric paint. I dont know much about that either, but Ive seen the products and with this you could put an apron or towel on the dress portion to protect it while you work with the collar. The third option to consider is crochet or lace: if you crochet or know someone who does, perhaps cover your existing collar with crochet? Ive also seen lovely lace collars at the fabric store. You could try to match the grey or opt for black which, with a little white from the collar showing through, might be very pretty and easy to tack on with needle and thread. Frugal Sunnies suggestions also bear consideration of course and as sewing projects go, it wouldnt be terribly difficult. If youre not much of a seamstress, what do you think about removing the collar altogether? A simple grey dress could easily be adorned with a variety of scarves or necklaces, right? After carefully cutting the stitches to remove the collar, hand sew / finish the neckline edge and press for a neat appearance.

Good luck!

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October 8, 20160 found this helpful

I have a polyester grey cardigan, grey does not suit me so want to dye it another colour. What colours are possible apart from black, if any? Thanks

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By 0 found this helpful
October 9, 2016

I dyed a formal dress from a champagne colour to a blue. I am loving the colour, but in some spots there are darker bits where it dyed too much and the rest of the dress is lighter. How do I get these darker spots out without removing the rest of the dye?

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By 0 found this helpful
August 21, 2016

I have a dark purple maxi dress made of 97% viscose and 3% elastane and I am wanting to dye it so it is paler in colour. Its for a fancy dress, I'm going as Meg from Hercules. Is this possible and how would I go about this? What is the best product to use?

Many thanks.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 24, 2016

I have a champagne colored gown. It is a cotton lace material with a polyestor/rayon lining. Is it possible to dye it silver or black?

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January 25, 20160 found this helpful

If the dress and color change is important, you might consider seeking a professional estimate on the probability of a successful dye and the cost.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 11, 2015

I dyed a white nylon dress yellow, wore it twice, and then noticed it had tiny orange spots where apparently the dye didn't blend completely. I washed it and hung it to dry. Then I used a toothbrush to lightly scrub in a 1:3 mixture of Dawn and peroxide on each spot. I washed the dress again, and hung it to dry. The spots remain. Do you have any suggestions?

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July 14, 20150 found this helpful

The problem may be that you tried to dye nylon. Dyes are often made for non-synthetic fabrics.

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By 0 found this helpful
December 11, 2010

Can black clothing be dyed charcoal grey or dark brown?

By Sandy from Atascadero, CA

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December 12, 20100 found this helpful

I don't think so, you can dye light to dark, but I have never heard of dying dark to light, the only way that it could be done is if you remove the current color first and even so if there are any invisible stains on the item, like there could be on black fabric, they would show up on the re-dyed item.

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November 9, 20140 found this helpful

I just got a cardigan, but I don't like the light grey color. Is it possible to dye the light grey to a charcoal grey without changing the wine color too much? The wine color is on the sleeves and back. The light grey is on the front.

By John D.

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December 11, 20100 found this helpful

How do I change the color of a fabric by dyeing it?

By Paul from Stonewall, LA

Answers:

Dyeing Fabric

What color is the current fabric and what color are you trying to obtain? (10/04/2010)

By Deeli

Dyeing Fabric

You will only be successful if the clothing is cotton or poly cotton. You use Rit dye, and follow the directions on the package. But, it isn't a foolproof procedure! We need more details, as Deeli has said. (10/12/2010)

By louel53

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