I had the exact color in mind for this dress but I knew there was no way I was going to find lace in that color. So I took a deep breath and tried my hand at Rit Dye. I must say, I'm totally hooked. I saw colors and options multiplying before my eyes as I experimented with this. This custom color guide was exactly what I needed and SO helpful.
Before you use Rit dye I would recommend reading through these tips on their website. This gave me a good idea of how to get the process going. I'll share the steps that I used, but their website has other methods and tips that are definitely worth reading though.
I used the Tangerine color and a tiny bit of the Scarlet to achieve the orangy-red color. I started with just the Tangerine, and it was bright neon orange. Awesome color, just not what I was looking for.
I found that I ended up liking the powder dye better than the liquid dye. The liquid dye was easy to use, but I ended up using a lot more than I was anticipating (I used the entire bottle for my dress). I thought the powder saturated the fabric better with only a small amount. It was a lot messier than the liquid, so make sure you wear gloves and have lots of towels laid out on the surface you are using. I also have a stainless sink which was really helpful. A ceramic sink/tub would definitely need to be bleached after the dying process.
Which leads to my first suggestion: TEST TEST TEST!!
I started dyeing small samples of the lace with hot water in a small glass bowl (I used glass because I knew it wouldn't stain).
Its hard to see from the photo, but the lower piece of lace was after just using the tangerine color. The top piece of lace was mixing the two, but it was more red than I wanted. I got the effect I was looking for after dying the lace tangerine first, then dying it again and adding a TINY pinch of the scarlet powder to the tangerine dye.
The pinker shaded fabric was a spandex blend that I was planning on making the under slip part of the dress out of.
**NOTE** Rit dye does NOT work well with 100% synthetic fabrics such as lycra, polyester, or spandex. If there is some cotton in the blend, it will dye a lot better. Testing your fabric choices is the best way to make sure that you will get the color you are looking for.
I ended up dying some coral cotton/rayon jersey with the tangerine and scarlet and got it to match my lace perfectly.
Since it wasn't a lot of fabric that I was dying, I did it all in this large bucket. I would highly recommend this over dying in your washing machine. I would never have achieved the color I wanted in the washing machine because I was constantly checking on the lace, adding more scarlet, more tangerine, etc to get the results I was looking for.
I added about 1/2 C of vinegar after letting the fabric sit in the dye for about 5 minutes to help set the dye.
I boiled my water to make sure it was as hot as possible. Then I added the tangerine dye, then the lace. I added very small bits of the scarlet at a time until I got the right shade.
Once I added the lace, I stirred it slowly for about 8-10 minutes to make sure it dyed the fabric evenly. I didn't need to let the fabric sit in the dye for too long because it would have been more red than I wanted. But if I was only dying one color and not mixing, I would have let it soak for about 30 minutes or so to get the richest color possible if that was the look I was going for.
After I got the right color, I rinsed out the lace (while wearing gloves) in super hot water in my sink until the water ran clear. Then I hung the lace to try. Keep in mind that the fabric will dry to be a lighter shade, so don't be to concerned if you think it is too dark while it is wet in the dye.
One more IMPORTANT note. I sewed the entire dress first, and dyed it second. DONT DO THIS! For some crazy reason, my white thread didn't dye! So all of my stitching on my dress is still white. It bugs me more that I can explain, and one day when I have the extra time, I will re-stitch everything with matching thread. In the future, I will probably cut out all of my pieces, then dye then, then sew everything together with the right color fabric.
Even though the white stitching makes me want to pull my hair out....I am still really happy with the dress.