Monday, September 20, 2010

Relove Old Clothes - Dye Them!

I have a brown cardigan that I love.  It completed many outfits until recently when I realized it was horribly faded.  My sister gave me a white shirt that did not fit her well.  I like the shape, but not the white color.

So, I decided to try a little experiment: dye old clothes to try to squeeze more wearable life out of them.  I decided to dye them together with the same shade of brown to see if it was possible to save a fading, old garment and completely change a newer garment.

I googled the process and found many existing tutorials and threads involving all sorts of chemicals and instructions but I wanted to do this the cheapest and quickest way possible.  This should be accessible to everyone.

Off I went to Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon to buy Rit (never shop there without checking their website for coupons first!).  This is the only supply I had to buy and it cost less than $2 after the coupon.

The instructions inside the box give several methods for dyeing garments including in the washing machine, on the stove with a large pot, in the sink or in a bucket.  I opted for the sink method because I thought it would use less water than the washing machine and be easier to clean up than the bucket.  I read on several threads that the stove is the best but I use all my pots for cooking and you need to have dedicated dyeing pot because of the chemicals.

I gathered my tools (stainless steel tongs and spoon, rubber gloves), cleaned my sink and filled it with 3 gallons of very hot water (heated in the microwave).  I dunked both shirts into the sink, wrung out the excess and set them aside (this helps them soak up the dye evenly).  Then I added the 1 cup of salt suggested by the Rit instructions to help the garments retain the dye.  Next, I heated 2 cups of water and added the dye powder and stirred well to combine.

I then poured the dye mixture into the sink, stirred to combine and added the shirts.  The instructions recommended stirring constantly for 10-30 minutes or until the desired color is achieved.

After about 20 minutes I was satisfied, drained the sink and started to rinse the shirts.  The instructions said to rinse with warm water until the water runs clear.  It was obvious that this would take gallons of water and tons of time at the sink so I ran them through the washing machine a few times and then in the dryer.  Here is the end result:

In the first photo they are still wet after the rinse and the lighter shirt looked a little splotchy.  The second photo shows them looking very wrinkly after their trip in the dryer (should have added an old towel to fluff them up!).  The faded brown cardigan looks slightly better than it did and the white shirt now looks like a giant purplish fudgesicle.  If I decide to do this again I want to do it on the stove as suggested on many threads, use 2 boxes of dye and a dye fixative to help fight further fading. 

After both garments have been washed a few times I will post an update!  In the meantime, if you would like to try it I suggest you start at this very helpful thread started by a professional fabric dyer: Dyeing tips and tricks.

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