Friday, November 16th, 2018

Giving Old Duds New Life: How To Dye Your Clothes

Published on November 22, 2009 by   ·   7 Comments Pin It

Resident GirlieGirl Army fashionista Karina Erdelyi shares her fantastic tips on how to dye your clothes and give something you may have otherwise tossed or donated a sparkling new life!

Why dump that adorable summer dress simply because the dogs muddy paws created a stain that you can’t seem to get out?   Just dye the whole thing a new color! For natural dyes, tea and coffee are fantastic. Cheap tea will do, cheap coffee as well. Fill a bathtub 1/3 of the way with very hot water, and in the meantime, boil up a gigantic stock pot of tea (use 20 bags). Or create a big stockpot of coffee. If using tea, let the bags steep for a while, then pour the tea into the water. If need be, boil up some more tea, depending on the color desired. Same with the coffee. Then, pre-wet the article to be dyed, and throw in the tub. Swish the article(s) around in the bath, so that equal coverage of color can be achieved. Then to cure the dyed item, put it in a separate bath of cold white vinegar, to seal in the dye. Looking to make other totally natural colors?   Onion skins will give you a yellow-brown look, Grapes a pale blue, Blueberries a lovely purple color, Cinnamon a very pretty brown, and Cranberries a beautiful rose color. You can even dye using roots and herbs.   Learn more about that here. All of this is relatively easy, and super fun and really re-invents a dingy white item!   When using the natural dyes, you may even consider making this a project with the kiddies!

Some fun stuff to do is to put dye (natural or standard) in a spray bottle. Take outside, or for the urbanites, line tub with a tarp to avoid stains, and then place article to be treated on tarp. Use the various spray settings to get different bursts of color, from many small droplets, to an area of more intense saturation.

RIT dye can be a great tool for any fashionista that wants to breathe new life into an old schmatta. It’s best to use RIT dye in a plastic tub, so as not to chance staining the bathtub. To be safe, lay an old sheet or tarp down, and put the plastic tub on top it. Also, have a second tub handy for the curing process.

Follow the direction on the RIT packaging,   or review the RIT website, which essentially involve boiling water and mixing RIT in. To spare your pot from being dyed, pour the boiling water into the tub and mix the dye directly in the tub.

For optimal results, pre-wet the item to be dyed so that the dye can take evenly. Then immerse it in the tub, and swish it around. Let it sit for a while, stirring occasionally, so that the dye can get into all the nooks and crannies. Note that the dye WILL look more intense when wet, so make sure to get to a color that is darker and more vibrant than what you’re hoping for in the finished product. When you do get to where you’d like, remove item from the dye bath and immerse it into another tub, filled with cold water and white vinegar. The white vinegar helps set the dye. After the item has sat in the water/vinegar mixture, rinse it under the spigot and let dry!

Remember, tie-dye isn’t your hippy Momma’s terrain anymore, it’s back bigger than ever.     Why spend $200 and up on someone else’s dye job when you could DIY?   Another fun idea: buy cheap white scarves, baby onesies, boy-beaters, or cotton knit hats in basic light colors, and dye them fun, interesting color ways for extra thoughtful holiday gifts!

Lily Raskind from fun street-inspired label, Sunshine & Shadow, shares some of her unusual dying tricks in this useful article from TONY that’s also worth reviewing before you get dyeing.   Happy Crafting!

Karina Erdelyi is an all-around creative: she’s run her own fashion company, shoots fine-art documentary photos, and has produced some kick-ass fashion shows. Her current work has her directing and producing online video, making the world better one video at a time!

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Readers Comments (7)

  1. […] ***The GirlieGirl Army*** » Blog Archive » Giving Old Duds New Life: How To Dye Your Clothes – view page – cached Resident GirlieGirl Army fashionista Karina Erdelyi shares her fantastic tips on how to dye your clothes and give something you may have otherwise tossed or donated a sparkling new life! […]

  2. Rebekah Jane says:

    This is really cool! I can’t wait to revamp something! And god knows I’m spill/stain prone.

  3. hi there,
    i am so happy to have found your blog and website. Belisa Vranich recommended I check you out. I LOVE your energy and passion and I have to wonder if you are a Libra too… anyway, beside the point. Thank you for this article and for the suggestions on using foods to dye clothing. Awesome.

  4. Chloe Jo says:

    Yep, most of us on staff here at GirlieGirlArmy are LIBRAS! Three of us actually! :)

  5. Jennie says:

    I wouldn’t use rit dye. They are made by Phoenix brands llc and they, by their own admission, test their products on animals.

  6. mireya says:

    always wanted to do this and didn’t know how

    so good to have these easy guidelines

    will do after new year’s

  7. Connie Corson says:

    When my kids were little we dyed easter eggs with the same vegetable dyes. So much fun.
    I’m going to try dying some of my old jeans and tea shirts.
    Go, girl, go. Love, Connie

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