More Details About Dyeing

We got so many interesting comments to the post about dyeing optic white garments to other more flattering colors that I wanted to share some additional tips and resources.  It’s funny – when the folks who teach the wardrobe consulting program at FIT were considering “LOOKING GOOD … Every Day” as their textbook, one of their questions about the content was “Would anybody actually dye their clothes a new color?”  Your collective enthusiasm for the idea confirms that plenty of people would!

SIDE NOTE: They did choose the book for their program – here I am signing copies in the FIT bookstore on my last trip to NYC.  What a thrill!  Okay – enough bragging. Now back to dyeing.

In the comments on the original post, Dawn shared this:

 I wear deep autumn colors. A few years ago I threw a bunch of bright clothing, orange, fuschia, lime green, etc… into the washer with a box of black Rit dye and two capfuls of tan liquid Rit dye. The results were great. I got rust, plum, olive and other colors that suited me a lot better.  The black didn’t make them too dark, just deepened the color while the tan warmed it.

For a detailed understanding of why  Dawn’s project worked out so well, I heartily recommend the MyBluprint.com video class “Color Play for Quilters” with Joen Wolfram.  It isn’t about dyeing per se, or about how fashion colors work on different people either.  But it is an amazing primer on the basics of color theory.  I found it very valuable, even though I never plan to make a quilt.

Blog reader Melissa shared that deoderant stains on some of her white tees caused the tea-dye to discolor in the underarm area – proving that this isn’t an exact undertaking.

Melissa also shared this photo of 5 different white shirts she dipped in a bath made with a bottle of Ritz Forest Green with about half that amount of blue. Two shirts picked up the blue (both are polyester), one really picked up the green (cotton), and one (nylon) picked up purple (not sure where that came from!)  She  was trying for an ombre effect on the striped shirt, but didn’t like how it turned out.  She’s now considering dyeing it rust.

Another Bluprint class you might want to watch is “The Art of Cloth Dyeing” with Jane Dunnewold.  Jane’s projects are more artsy than my personal taste, but the information about the chemistry of dyeing, the behavior of various dye colors and various fibers, plus the technical aspects of the process go far beyond anything I had figured out on my own.  And they can help explain the variety of outcomes Melissa experienced.

If you aren’t familiar with Bluprint, it is a very  sophisticated e-learning platform with a huge catalog of highly-produced, content-packed videos on all sorts of craft-related subjects.  When you buy a class you can watch it as often as you like, any time of day, any day of the year, from anywhere on the world, on any device … forever.  You can bookmark favorite content, ask questions of the instructor and share project photos with other students.  Check it out.

Another reader, Marlette, recommended DharmaTrading.com as a resource four dyes of all types  and guidance about how to use them.  Check them out too.

 And by all means let us know about the dyeing projects you undertake – can’t wait to hear about them.

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.

5 Comments

  1. Helen Peemoeller on May 30, 2017 at 11:46 am

    I had an accidental dye job that worked out very well. I had a black print on white sun dress that I had made, which was washed with some dark navy blue jeans. Now the dress is now a lovely light blue with black, an appealing new look.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on May 30, 2017 at 11:52 am

      The Craftsy video on dyeing makes the same point – that it isn’t that unusual to get results that turn out to be happy accidents. Glad yours worked that way!

  2. Barbara Webb on May 30, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    How do I dye bright white. Into a softer white ?

    • Nancy Nix Rice on June 1, 2017 at 10:04 am

      I’m tempted to say “just wash it a couple of times with your grandkids’ dirty clothes” – that always sorked me when my kids were younger. But seriously – I would super-dilute a dye in the person’s individual pale neutral – for you that would be light gray. Test it first on a scrap of fabric similar to your garment to get an idea how quickly you want to dip it in and out of the dye bath to get just a hint of color. And actually, since I know you face to face (unlike most blog subscribers) I can say that your hair is so sparkly white that you can carry off bright white clothing better than the vast majority of women.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on June 1, 2017 at 10:04 am

      I’m tempted to say “just wash it a couple of times with your grandkids’ dirty clothes” – that always sorked me when my kids were younger. But seriously – I would super-dilute a dye in the person’s individual pale neutral – for you that would be light gray. Test it first on a scrap of fabric similar to your garment to get an idea how quickly you want to dip it in and out of the dye bath to get just a hint of color. And actually, since I know you face to face (unlike most blog subscribers) I can say that your hair is so sparkly white that you can carry off bright white clothing better than the vast majority of women.

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