Sewing Blog

Every Color of the Rainbow: Dyeing Clothes

If you’re looking for a way to freshen up your wardrobe, the answer might lie in a packet of fabric dye. Whenever I’m bored with a particular item of clothing that still fits and is in great shape, I think, “Hmm, what other color could this be?” Dyeing cloth is a great way to give new life to old favorites, or to custom color a fabric before sewing. It’s easy, quick and cheap!

Dying clothes

Here are some tips to adding color to your closet:

1. Choose your garment.

I would start with a solid colored garment first, since you’re most likely to be pleased with the results. Most fabric blends will accept dye, including synthetics, like rayon and nylon-fiber blends that are at least 60% dyeable fiber. Natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk, wool and ramie are the most easily dyeable, in my experience.

There are some fibers that just won’t accept dye, no matter how hard you try, like anything that’s 100% acrylic, polyester or acetate.

Keep in mind that any plastic parts of the garment, like buttons and zippers, might not accept dye, either. So you’ll need to swap these out to match the new color of your garment (or embrace the contrast).

2. Choose the right kind of dye.

Depending on the brand of dye, you’ll need to select the dye based on the fiber content of your garment.

For example, RIT dye will work on natural or synthetic fibers, but iDye has separate formulas for natural and poly fabrics (for natural and poly blends you can use both formulas together). iDye also has a dye available specifically for items that will be laundered frequently.

When shopping for dye, keep in mind which dyeing method works best for you. I prefer to dye things in the washing machine because I think the cleanup is a lot easier, so I try to avoid dyes that require the stovetop method.

3. Read the directions.

A little obvious, maybe, but each brand of dye is a little bit different, so make sure you familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help you achieve the color saturation you’re looking for.

Woman in Blue Gloves with Cloth Dyeing Materials

Photo via The Art of Cloth Dyeing

4. Set up your workspace.

Have a plastic dropcloth or plenty of newspapers on hand, as well as paper towels to clean up any spills immediately. And be prepared to clean your sink and buckets or washing machine immediately to avoid staining and/or turning your entire closet the same color.

5. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Consider mixing a couple of shades of dye to create your own custom color, or layer a few different colors on top of each other. (Start with the lightest color dye for the best results.)

6. Caring for dyed items.

It’s a good idea to wash your freshly dyed items by themselves for two to three washes. That way, if there’s any residual dye bleeding it won’t ruin other items being washed with it.

The Art of Cloth Dyeing Craftsy ClassLearn to create seductively rich colors that won’t run or fade with the Craftsy class The Art of Cloth Dyeing. Fiber artist Jane Dunnewold will guide you through each step of dyeing bonds to different fabrics, as you create beautiful multicolored patterns.

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15 Comments

Rob

I thing that i find to be very useful with dying is the use of vinegar. I know it sounds crazy since vinegar can ruin fabric but after i do the dye or sometimes even during if i’m using a cold process. I like to take a spritzer bottle of straight vinegar and spray a bit of it all over the dyed fabric. For some reason it helps to set the color in. After the dying is complete i also like to pour a little vinegar in the washer when i first go to wash the garment and i’m telling ya; i have not had to much trouble with color bleeds. only once have i had a problem and i think that was more the old dye and not the vinegar.

Reply
Christine Gilson

Hi I would like to dye a linen jacket I have had for years it has never been worn or washed. I would like to dye it a very pale blue. I guess just follow the directions on the pack, but any tips so I don’t end up with a horrible streaky unwearable mess. Thanks!

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salifrost

good advice x

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Margaret

What colour would an orange dress turn out if I used a red dye

Reply
Faprince

I will try it

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nthabiseng

Where can I get dye for clothes

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marycarey2@eircom.net

have a yellow jacket and would like to dye it an Aubergine/ Fushia or a pine green what colour dye do I use. Thank you

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lalaine

Nice..XP

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CAROL JEAN

PLEASE CAN ANYBODY HELP ME TO FINE CLOTHING DYE. HAVE GREEN SKIRT WOULD LIKE TO DYE OVER.

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Angie

I think almost all fabric stores carry dye. I’ve even seen a few basic colors in a grocery store

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Fay

I would like to dye a white dress in black that is 70% cotton, 25% nylon & 5% spandex.
The interior lining is 48% polyester % 52% viscose. It also says dry cleaning only. Is this an easy item to dye because It’s a 400$ dress & I don’t want to screw this up. Thx so much!!

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allison

Hello,
I would like to dye a thermal cotton blanket that is light blue a more teal brighter blue. What colors should I buy to achieve a Teal or a brighter sea blue.

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Sue

Hey , I have a dress that is 95%Rayon & 5%Spandex… It’s Gray and I want it black – any suggestions? or is this even a possibility :)?

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mmaphuti

hi there! i have a black dress that i love so much but it is now becoming brownish and i want its original colour. where can i get the dye and what brand?

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Jane Gelston. New Zealand

I have a heavy raised cotton table cloth which is dark yellow, I wish to dye it a cherry red, I bought the dye but I am told it will not be red when it is on yellow. ?? Is this a fact,
I hope someone can help, I love the texture of the cloth but it now does not work with my new colour scheme
Please help.

Reply

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