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Dyeing Blue Jeans

How do I dye denim jeans?

By Lenin from Nottingham


Dyeing Blue Jeans

To dye anything, you have to first make sure it is totally clean because if there are any dirty or greasy spots it won't dye evenly. Secondly, be sure to purchase liquid dye or pre-mix any powdered dye then strain it so there's no specks or tiny chunks of powdered dye.


Before dyeing, your item needs to be wet. This helps the dye penetrate more evenly. Just use plain tap water then wring it out. This is best done by washing your jeans in the machine or just putting them through the rinse cycle in the wash machine, or if you run the faucet water over them you can put them through the last part of the spin cycle to spin them to remove any excess water. Usually, you want your item wet so the dye distributes more evenly, but follow the directions on the dye because some kinds of dye want the item to be dry when it goes into the dye.

Always follow the exact directions on the container the dye comes in. Usually it will read something like this:
Fill a huge pan about 2/3 full of water then heat it on the stove to almost boiling then reduce the burner to it's lowest setting and add your dye and stir with a long handled spoon until the dye is mixed evenly. Some dyes have you add (non-iodine) table salt and some have you add vinegar, some have you add nothing at all. Keep the item that's being dyed in the dye-bath longer that you think you'll need to, because your item that's being dyed will look darker when it's wet than after it's dry. You need to keep stirring the item the whole time or it will look splotchy and tie-dyed. Lastly, rinse the item until the water runs totally clear.


But the most important thing you can do is to buy a high quality dye. "Rit" brand of dye (the kind you buy at the super market) is "not" a high quality dye! This is because Rit dye fades with sunshine and also when it's washed. A type of dye that fades is called a "fugitive" dye (which indigo, that denim is made from) is. Maybe you might want a fugitive dye when dyeing jeans? If you do, then Rit brand may be exactly what you want. If you do buy Rit, buy the liquid type, not the powdered. But beware of fugitive dyes or indigo because the dye can rub off on your legs and color them when you wear your newly dyed jeans.

You can easily over-dye dye any blue jeans to black (or another dark color). But remember the color the jeans start will change the color they end up. For example if you start out with gray-black jeans and dye them red, they probably will end up more burgundy than red. But you all know how black can be. Usually it fades a tiny bit each time you wash the dyed item, so wash blacks and dark colors "only" with other blacks and always use cold water.


Also, when dyeing with black or any dark color, it's usually best to use twice the amount of dye that's recommended to make sure you'll get a rich dark color.
Also, some people will leave dark colors in the dye bath longer than the recommend time, but remember you have to keep stirring and mixing your item the whole time or you'll end up with a splotchy "tie-dyed" look.

Any question about dye: These guys are amazing

They know everything about dyes and what dye works best for what (even the unusual and weird stuff!). You can e-mail or call them on the phone. I have been very happy with both their friendly customer service and their amazing knowledge. They have an 800 number, so it costs you nothing.

For fun:
Check out this cool dye below. It works by using the UV rays from the sun to set the dye. It only works on cotton, rayon, linen, and silk, but it's super-easy and fun!


Here's a great project to do with kids or teens:
Have them paint their own one-of-a-kind bedsheets. Use paintbrushes and the InkoDye outside on the lawn on a nice day. Just lay out a 100% cotton sheet and paint it with colorful swirls, stars, stripes, and polka-dots (just have fun). The color starts out clear then changes as the suns rays "develop" it, just like "magic". (02/25/2010)

By Cyinda

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