Wednesday, July 25, 2012

fit to be dyed

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.


  1. I recently dyed some jeans and I'm the same way. Absolutely hooked! My thread didn't take the dye either and after some research I found out that most threads are polyester (for strength) and won't take color because they are synthetic. And please post a tutorial for this dress!! It's gorgeous!

  2. Thanks for linking up the color chart. I recently died a shower curtain and it was the wrong shade of yellow. Why I never thought of mixing the dyes is beyond me. I was wondering why you chose white thread, but now it all makes sense.


  3. Wow! This is amazing and you are so talented :-)

    Dainty and Decadent

  4. There is dye for the polyester thread,but that means you might have to use two different dyes at the same time so it might be difficult.

  5. Such great advice! I noticed the white thread when you first posted about the dress and I didn't even think it was a mistake! I was like, what a cute touch!! She is so creative!!! THe dress is impecable. You are so talented.

  6. I LOVE the dress and the color and I've been considering using RIT dye. Another blogger does it in her washing machine all the time and that just concerns me about future clothes being stained. Thanks for your tips! Will you be doing a tutorial on the dress? I almost bought lace the other day just dreaming about making a dress like this.

  7. How strange about the thread! Great tips - thanks for sharing :)

  8. Quick - before you re-sew the offending white thread - grab some markers. From the sound of things you'll probably have to blend a red and an orange, but it's quicker than re-sewing. Make sure they're permanent and you're off to the races! I do this all the time on jeans that have been garment-dyed and need to be hemmed. Good luck!

    1. Bless you! I am totally going to do this!

  9. I wondered about the white thread with your first post as well. Yep, Polyester doesn't dye :( I died a pair of pants with Rit dye in high school. After lots of washings it faded - FYI.

  10. I adore the rich color! Have you found that it fades after being washed a couple of times though? Or did the vinigar make it bond better? Every time I try to dye something it ends up loosing the color after a few washes...

  11. I wouldn't dye cut out pieces of fabric; they could fray, become misshapen and make it more difficult to sew together. Why not dye the yardage, buy thread & zipper to match and then sew it together? Your lace was probably nylon since it dyed so easily; polyester lace would not dye as easily. Different materials react differently to dye, which is why it can be a problem to dye an old dress, with multiple fabrics or threads in it.

    I've dyed several old nylon slips so they would match lace or chiffon dresses. The nylon tricot always dyes well, but the lace may or may not end up matching. Since these are slips to wear under a garment, I don't mind. If the lace is cotton or nylon it matches well. There are dyes which will dye anything, but you have to be careful using them.

    This turned out beautifully ~ I love the tangerine color you achieved!

  12. This dress is adorable!!! What pattern did you have??

  13. Dress was perfect for my daughter. She loved it. She got it for her aunt's wedding coming up. I couldn't wait after placing the order as I was worried about the fit and length of the dress.
    Chanel watches


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