Fabrics.net

Fabric Dyeing 101

It is my pleasure to write the fabric dyeing column at Fabrics.Net! I love corresponding with you and answering your dyeing questions.

In my Ask Dizzylettuce column, I receive many questions on dyeing fabric, garments, and even on dyeing upholstered furniture. This article contains the basics of textile dyeing so that everyone can get the information in one place!

Fabric dyes that are available for use at home or in a small production facility are for natural fibers – cotton, silk, rayon, linen, hemp, wool, and all their blends and derivatives.

Some other terms for natural fibers include: for linen, flax or flex; rayon is also called viscose, tencel, and modal. Cotton is pretty straightforward; occasionally you will see it translated into other languages like algodon, coton, and baumwolle. Similarly, silk is soie, seda, and seide.

When you are considering dyeing a garment or a piece of fabric, remember these two things: the fabric must be able to withstand both agitation and warm water. This makes already-constructed garments iffy – they cannot shrink, twist, mat, felt, or otherwise be stressed by the agitation process if you want the item to come out basically as it went in.

Polyester garments cannot be dyed by mere mortals. Polyester is created in highly controlled factory settings, using toxic chemicals at high temperatures. In addition, the dye is added when the fabric is in a liquid state. Using Rit or reactive dyes would be like trying to dye a plastic bag. The dye just doesn’t stick. Similarly, acetate cannot be dyed.

If you have a garment or fabric that is half or less polyester and the other portion a natural fiber (like cotton), you can try using the reactive dyes. Keep in mind that the dye will take at about half strength. In other words, it’s very hard to get a dark color saturation. Cotton mixed with a minimal amount of spandex (5-10%) will take the dye pretty well!

Solid color dyeing cotton, linen, rayon, and silk. The best dye for vivid, color- and light-fast color are the reactive dyes, available from www.dharmatrading.com and www.prochemical.com. Some crafts stores carry reactive dyes, also. Get catalogs and instructions from these sources and study the materials carefully.

Silk dyeing. Dharma Trading Company recommends their acid dyes as best for solid-color dyeing of silk. I personally use the reactive dyes on silk because they are so simple and can be done in the washing machine. However, on silk, the reactive dyes do not come out the same colors as on cotton, so it requires experimentation to get what you want. If you want true-to-swatch silk colors and want to experiment with the acid dyes, they require very hot water, either in the washer, or on top of the stove. Acid dyes will also dye nylon.

Wool dyeing. Acid dyes are also used for dyeing wool – again, they require very hot water, so your fabric must be able to withstand any resulting shrinkage, matting, or felting. For this reason, I do not recommend dyeing already-constructed wool garments, such as coats, sweaters, or dresses, unless they are really large, and/or you are completely willing to experiment with the results.

If you want to dye fabric in order to make quilts, garments, table linens, etc., the best place to start is with the prepared-for-dyeing fabrics at Dharma Trading Co. Their fabrics have no coatings or treatments that would make them resist the dye. Cotton and linen fabrics from Dharma do not need to be washed before dyeing. They recommend washing silk fabrics with Synthropol first (also available from Dharma), in order to take out any remaining silk worm gum.

Frequently asked questions. Just to sum up.

Can I dye my wedding dress/bridesmaid dress/formal dress?
The simple answer is no. The vast majority of these dresses are polyester and acetate. Even if they are silk, the construction will probably not hold up to the warm water and agitation process. In addition, any trim may not dye or could take the dye in a different strength or color.

Can I dye my cotton/silk/linen dress?
Possibly, but keep in mind: 1, the thread and zipper will remain the original color; 2. the trim issue (see above); 3. the stress of the warm-water-and-agitation process.

With all these caveats, what can I dye?
Prepared-for-dyeing garments, including everything available at Dharma Trading Co.; all-cotton sheets and pillowcases; all-cotton towels; vintage linens (many of these are sewn with cotton thread, which will dye); natural-fiber items that have faded and you want to restore them to their original color; cotton and rayon trims and laces; cotton undies (elastic will not dye); natural fiber yard goods.

Can I dye my blue baby blanket pink?
No, because you are combining colors, just as if you were painting pink over a blue water color painting. However, you can dye a white or natural color baby blanket pink.

Is there a white dye?
Technically speaking, no. Some fabrics and colors can be changed or lightened using a good dose of chlorine bleach. Caveat: Start with a cup of chlorine bleach. Keep in mind that bleach will deteriorate fabric and if you use too much, you may end up with a shredding rag. Dharma also sells a color discharger for removing dye from fabric. If you are willing to be unattached to the outcome, you can try these methods.

Can I dye my upholstered chair/sofa/ottoman?
No. Don’t even think about it, unless your piece is white or off white, and you are willing to undertake an experiment using SimplySpray spray-on fabric dyes. (Check out available colors at www.simplyspray.com.)

 

103 Responses to “Fabric Dyeing 101”

  1. Tim says:

    Is it possible to have a wedding dress dyed professionally and where do you have that done?

  2. Dizzylettuce says:

    Hi Tim,
    Generally, it is not possible to dye a wedding dress. If you want to investigate the remote possibility, please drop me a note with a photo & a description of the fiber content (acetate, poly, silk, cotton, etc.).
    Best, Jennifer

  3. martha says:

    i got bleach on my olive corduroy pants (98% cotton/2% spandex).  i got some liquid dyd from Rit, and the amounts of each color to make a fairly close match.   is there anything other than pre-washing (i assume without facric softener) first, then using my sink for the dye job? 

    • Dizzylettuce says:

      Martha, I am sorry to report that generally you can’t dye over bleach spots. Somehow, the bleach changes the chemistry of the fabric so that it won’t accept dye.

  4. Angie says:

    I have a brand new (still in the package) set of white sheets, fabric is microfiber, I would like to dye them a neutral color or something in a beige tone. I’ve read all the info I can on the process, I am unfamiliar with the product casolene oil. Do you feel this is a necessity in the coloring process?

  5. Lucas Wood says:

    I bought a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester to cut into 1′x1′ squares and tie die. The die beaded up, would not be absorbed in the material. I washed and tried again, no luck.

    I bout 100% cotton and prewashed, dryed in the the dryer and tried tie die, the die still wont soak into the cloth!!!

    I have 100% synthetic cloth of some type (sorry, its a mystery), it is a stretchy material, the die soaks in and makes cool patterns nothing like traditional tie die. Instead its a ink blott pattern type of look and the die never sets in. I skipped the cold bath, just washed and 90-95% of the die rinses right out.

    What is my problem? Why cant I make tie die!!!??

  6. Hi Lucas,
    It sounds like you need a serious study of tie-dye. I suggest that you go to http://www.dharmatrading.com & read all their instructional pages. They also sell ready-to-dye fabrics that have not been treated.

    You should be able to tie-dye your 100% cotton fabric, but it needs to be wet & soaked in textile detergent or soda ash before you start.

    Read over all the materials at the Dharma website & drop me a note if you have further questions.
    best, Jennifer

  7. Amber says:

    Hi, I have purchased summer dresses (they will be used as bridesmaid dresses) they are 50% cotton and 50% nylon. I have bought an extra dress to try to dye it but what are your suggestions for the length of time and if doing it in the washing machine would work? I am going for a light yellow but could only find lemon yellow and golden yellow. Thank you for your knowledge and time.

  8. Jennifer Thompson Miller says:

    Hi Amber,
    This is going to be very difficult. Nylon & cotton take dyes of different sorts. Since you’re going for a lighter color value, you could try it using Rit. Start with a half dose of the lemon yellow & see what happens!
    Remember, all dyeing is an experiment.
    best, Jennifer

  9. Sybil says:

    Hi Jennifer, I have a short white dress which I would like to dye. The fabric is 52% cotton, 39% polyester and 9% metal, and the lining is 100% acetate. I live in Perth, Western Australia and I have spoken to a few people in Perth and in the Eastern States who have advised that this would be a difficult task. Any advice you may have would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards,
    Sybil

  10. Jennifer Thompson Miller says:

    Hi Sybil,
    I am sorry, your dress can’t be easily dyed. It’s mainly the polyester fiber content that impedes you. The cotton content will take the dye, but will be very pale.
    If you want to study the subject, check out the information at http://www.dharmatrading.com.
    best, Jennifer

  11. Darlene says:

    I have a yellow corduroy vest 100% cotton which I would like to dye black.
    I want to use RIT dye as I have some from freshening up my black jeans.
    Is it possible to change the colour from yellow to black?

  12. DizzyLettuce says:

    Hi Friends,
    My comments on the article on dyeing polyester: If you want to try dyeing polyester, please go for it! The main thing to keep in mind is is that your fabric or garment must be processed in boiling water. Generally, delicate constructed garments like wedding dresses will not stand up to such treatment.

    Darlene, I generally do not recommend Rit dye, as it is a very mild strength. You may get a muddy yellow-gray. Try it if you want to – all dyeing, after all, is an experiment. If you are serious about dyeing the vest, I suggest the reactive dyes available at dharmatrading.com. Read all instructions carefully.

    best, Jennifer

  13. Sarah says:

    I have a new white dress that I love, but I want to dye it a different color. (I haven’t decided what color yet….) I don’t want to risk ruining it, so what are the best ways to get the best results? What brands, extra instructions, and colors are the best for getting positive results from my dress? It’s 100% cotton, except for the trimming stuff. Will the cutout trimming things (can you tell I don’t know what I’m talking about) /lace stuff all stay white, since it’s all 100% polyester? Or will there be problems where some of it gets dyed weird, but some of it doesn’t? I know the zipper won’t change color, and that’s fine. Also, there is a little bit of fishnet stuff on the inside, will any of that be a problem, or will it just not be affected? Thanks! :)

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Sarah,
      It is really hard to predict a certain outcome. Generally speaking, you can bet that the trim (the polyester part) & the lining and tulle (fishnet) will not take dye at all. I recommend the reactive dyes available at http://www.dharmatrading.com. Read all instructions carefully. You will also need soda ash & ordinary table salt. Keep in mind that the warm water plus agitation may shrink the dress. It’s true that you risk uneven dyeing outcomes, because some cotton fabrics are treated with coatings that prevent even dye absorption. Bottom line: if you want to guarantee an excellent outcome, don’t dye it. If you want to experiment, have fun!
      best, Jennifer

  14. Lou says:

    Hi Dizzy,

    I have a dress which is 59% cotton, 41% linen. It is a fairly sturdy, stiff dress. It is currently a chocolate brown, and I would like to dye it black. Is that possible?

    Thank you!
    Lou.

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Lou,
      It’s possible that you can dye this, if you want to learn about fabric dyeing. You will need at least 2 oz of Dharma Trading Co’s reactive dye in PR275 Hot Black, plus salt & soda ash. Check out the Dharma website for full instructions! You can dye this in the washing machine (for best, even results), keeping in mind that dyeing is a warm water & agitation process. Have fun!

  15. Roxy says:

    Hello,

    I love the way the mineral wash looks on Tees! I would love to try to “mineral dye” my 60% cotton 40% micromodal tees, however I would like to know if this treatment would work well with this fabric? Any feedback would be awesome! thank you!!

  16. Hi,
    I’m sorry, I really have no expertise with mineral wash at all. Cotton/modal can be dyed using the reactive dyes. Try it & see what you like!
    best, Jennifer

  17. E Brinley says:

    Hello,

    I would like to dye a skirt with the following material make-up:

    36% Viscose
    34 Acrylic
    27% Cotton
    3% Polyamide

    It says:

    Do not wash
    do not bleach
    do not iron
    dry clean only

    Presuming this isn’t going ot take dye well… but have NO idea.. can you help??

    Thanks

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Emily,
      Well, you can try it. It all depends on what color you want to dye it, what color it is now, & how much you care about the outcome. The acrylic content will not take the dye at all, & your fabric may shrink, as dyeing is a warm water process. I suggest the reactive dyes available at http://www.dharmatrading.com. Read all instruction pages carefully.
      have fun!
      Jennifer

  18. Dizzy, I want to try to dye my daughters formally white breeches which are 63% cotton, 32% micro fiber and 5% spandex. They are full seat breeches. That means there is a big section that is made of leather and that is where the problem started. The leather is black and the dye in the leather turned the rest of the breeches an uneven grey to blue grey. Can that blend of fabric be dyed. We would go for an easy cover color, just want them to be all one color and even. She got a ‘good deal’ on them, ha ha! From now on they will be washed by hand and alone… Thank you for your help. CC

  19. Carbery, I don’t know if anything can be done here. Even if you are able to remove the dye that affected the fabric from the leather, there is no guarantee that the leather dye will not continue to bleed. Leather is dyed with chemicals that are different from fabric dyes. You can try getting some Dharma Dye Remover from dharmatrading.com. This stuff is caustic, read all instructions carefully. Plus, the microfiber content throws in another wild card. Dye remover may not work on microfiber at all.
    Sorry, I can’t be encouraging.
    best,
    Jennifer

  20. Connie says:

    I have a four year old coat made of a medium weight black damask woven fabric. The raised pattern has remained black while the rest of the fabric has faded to a dark bronze-black color in a uneven way. I presume that since the woven pattern and base fabric is consistently black under the collar and arms, that this is due to sunlight fading. The fiber content is 75% polyester, 22% cotton, 3% spandex. Is there anything I can do to restore the black color so it is even from top to bottom? Thank you for your expertise.

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Connie, I am sorry, I don’t think this fabric can be restored to solid black. It has too much polyester content to take any overdyeing. Sorry!
      Jennifer

  21. Debbie says:

    Hi Dizzy! I want to do a tortoise shell effect on a scarf – the base color would be amber, and a blotchy dark brown on top. My question is – do I need to dye the scarf solid amber, rinse, wash, and dry it, before doing the dark brown effect? Or can I do a solid amber dye then scrunch it up unrinsed, still soaked with amber dye, and add the brown?
    Thanks for any insight you can share! :)
    Debbie

  22. Jennifer Thompson Miller says:

    Hi Debbie, you will be doing a 2-color effect, sort of like tie/dye. Check out all the tutorials at http://www.dharmatrading.com. Be sure your scarf is cotton or silk, & follow all instructions carefully! I suggest that you get some similar materials at a thrift store to practice on first. Have fun!!

  23. Sara says:

    Hello! I know that the dyeing process is unpredictable and often requires experimentation, but I am in need of some guidance. I recently purchased a Chinese Qipao dress that is 70% silk and 30%polyester. The dress is very close to the color I’m looking for. It is a maroon fabric and I am hoping to successfully turn it more of a violet color. After looking at the dyes available from http://www.dharmatrading.com I’m wondering which type to use. Also, would you recommend a violet tint or a blue tint, seeing as the fabric is already a red-purple?

  24. Hi Sara,
    There are several factors recommending against dyeing your dress. First, dyeing requires hot water & agitation, & your dress may shrink or twist in the process. Next, its polyester content will not take any dye at all. So you will get a lighter value of the color that you add. If you still want to try, I suggest adding blue to create more of a violet. Keep in mind, all dyeing is an experiment! If at all possible, test before you try any color additions.
    have fun,
    Jennifer

  25. Anna W says:

    Hi I am a 7th grader at a middle school in Arlington virginia and for my science project I was wondering if you could answer the question what causes dyes to work on Fabrics? Also I would need to know your name and position. Thank you
    Anna

  26. Jennifer Thompson Miller says:

    Hi Anna,
    Unfortunately I am not a chemist, so I can’t answer your question with any depth of knowledge. However, here are a few things:
    1. There are many kinds of dye that are used for different kinds of fibers – synthetics (acrylic, polyester, etc), natural cellulose fibers (cotton & linen, etc.), natural protein fibers (silk, wool, etc.), & many more. These all take different kinds of dye in order to make the color stick.

    2. When dye is applied to a fiber, it makes a chemical bond that is not broken. In other words, the color becomes part of the molecules of the fiber.

    3. A simple answer to your question, what makes dye work? Is the chemical color, heat, a dispersant (this moves the dye through the fabric), & water or some other solution. These are the factors that are needed to create permanent color on fiber.

    4. I suggest that you read everything on the website at http://www.dharmatrading.com, http://www.prochemical.com, & all the articles on dyeing,etc at wikipedia. Have fun exploring!!
    best, Jennifer

  27. P.S. Anna, you can list my position as Textile Designer.

  28. Teresa says:

    I have a light jacket in weight and in color. It’s a light beige. I have looked all over for a black blazer like this, (it is midi length) It is Rayon and Acetate. I have a very simple financial situation. What dye would you recommend, and any helpful tip would me the absolute world to me. Thank you so very much in advance
    Teresa,

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Teresa,
      I am sorry, this can’t be easily dyed. It’s hard to dye anything black; rayon will take dye, but acetate will not. Keep looking.
      best regards, Jennifer

  29. Jackie Senton says:

    I bought a dress on ebay that is 100% rayon in a light plum. I find the shade too light and would like to dye it darker. There is some stitching design where the fabric inside the design is almost black and the plum is mottled (like faded denim). If I dye it darker will I lose the black and the mottled effect?
    thank you, Jackie

  30. Jennifer Thompson Miller says:

    Jackie,
    I really don’t know what will happen. If you are willing to experiment, you can try it! I usually don’t recommend Rit, but if you can find the shade you like, it may work for you. You can also look at the fabric dye section at JoAnn or at Jerry’s Artarama. Read all instructions carefully! You’ll need soda ash & table salt, as well, if you use a MX or reactive dye.
    best,
    Jennifer

  31. Jayne says:

    I bought some fabric to dye but couldn’t find out what it’s made of
    Is there any way to find out

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      I suggest that you take it to a local seamstress or tailor for their opinion. You can also do a burn test to see if it is a natural fiber. Carefully light a small swatch of the fabric; if it melts, it’s synthetic – if it burns to ash, it is a natural fiber. Another option is to try dyeing; if it takes the dye, you have a natural fiber.

  32. Judith says:

    Jayne,
    We have an article on “Fabric Identification” at http://info.fabrics.net/fabric-facts/fabric-identification/ which includes the burn test.

    Hope this helps!
    Judith
    Judith@fabrics.net

  33. Chris says:

    Hi, I’ve dyed some cream chino pants black. However the stitching hasn’t changed colour. Is there a way to fix this?

    Thanks in advance for any help :-))

  34. JenC. A. says:

    Chris- this is an unorthodox approach. I’ve had this happen to me before with stitching. After some experimentation with fabric markers, paints etc. this is what has worked best for me. IF your pants are a true solid black, (if not, then do not try this. It”ll look awful). Go over the stitching (very carefully) with a black sharpie or other permanent marker. It’s a bit tedious, yes. but it works. And If you’ve ever gotten permanent ink on your clothes, you know it does not wash out. It works with colors, too. However, finding the right shades can be tricky, if not impossible. However, black is the easiest. As long as the fabric is a solid dark black.
    The stitching moves an/ or stretches a bit during washing or wearing, or may fade a little. And will most likely need touching up now and then.
    Also, the marker should be brand new. Firm tip and lots of ink so you don’t need to use much pressure. Good luck!

  35. Lynn says:

    Hi!
    I have a white dress 55% rayon, 45% acetate lining and then it says 100% acetate. I want to dye it emerald green. It also has some unknown stains. What is my success rate and what is the best way to accomplish this?

    Thank you!
    Lynn

  36. Sena says:

    Hello! I have black business casual blazer that I love however I ruined it accidentally when it was dry cleaning only. Anyways the exterior of the blazer is 98% wool, the inside lining is acetate and lastly the two outside trim of my beautiful jacket is silk. I washed the jacket with the rest of my laundry and happen to found out afterwards. The silk trim is now faded with grayish marks. I was wondering if I could use reactive fabric dye to dye the whole jacket without damaging the original color of the exterior or the wool part. ?

    Thanks,
    sena

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Sena, I am sorry, you can’t really fix this matter. You could experiment with fabric paint (available at dharmatrading.com) on the trim only if you want. Did the wool shrink or felt at all?

      Sometimes we just have to chalk it up to laundry mistakes.
      Jennifer

  37. Diana says:

    Is it possible to dye yellow jeans black? Got a horrible mustard colour jeans as a gift and wanted to make use of them.
    They are 98% cotton and 2% elastine.
    Also will the stiching dye black?

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      You can try this, but be aware that the stitching will probably not dye, & the black that you get may be a muddy-black-mustard color. I’d try overdyeing them with dark brown or dark green – they won’t come out black but may be a more pleasing color. Use the reactive dyes available at dharmatrading.com. Read all instructions for the other chemicals that you will need. good luck!

  38. DizzyLettuce says:

    I don’t recommend trying to overdye this. The acetate component of your dress will not respond to dye or to water, for that matter. Sorry.

  39. We bought 30 tan linen table cloths for my granddaughters wedding. We want to dye them black but a friend told us they were colorfast treated and wont accept new dye. Is there anything we can do to get them to black?

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      It really depends on their fiber content. If they are truly 100% linen they can be dyed using the reactive dyes & a lot of salt. If they are polyester linen, they can’t be dyed.
      Happy wedding!

  40. Tanya says:

    Hi , I have a blush pink silk Zimmerman gown . Was a bridesmaids dress however I want to dye it a dark dark navy or black . Can this be done and if so where do you suggest to go? I do not want to do it myself I want to pay someone to make sure it’s done properly . Please let me know as soon as you can because I love the dress and really want to wear it again but can not make myself to wear it in the orignal colour.

    Tanya

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Tanya,
      I don’t recommend dyeing a silk gown like this – the silk is too delicate, and the construction usually cannot handle the stress. Also, it’s difficult to get black or a dark color – plus the thread & zipper will remain pink. Sorry, Sell it at consignment & get what you want.

  41. Elizabeth says:

    I have a mahogany table cloth I want to dye. Since I’m sure it’s been pretreated with something what’s the best way of trying get it to accept the dye.

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      It all depends on the fiber content of the tablecloth. Plus if it is a dark color, you can only add color,not remove it. Polyester can’t be dyed at all. Cotton/poly will take the dye somewhat. Cotton, linen, & other natural fibers can be dyed.

      Best idea is to go shopping.

      You can check out dyeing options & supplies at dharma trading.com.

  42. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you. It’s 100% cotton and detail is woven not printed. It s dark and light grey. I am trying to figure out if I need to do anything before normal dying techniques or if a soda ash soak will be enough too get a color to take.

  43. Jimmy says:

    DizzyLettuce,

    I’ve been trying to dye my girlfriend’s dress and a pair of pants. The dress is black and 65% polyester and 35% rayon, the pants are green and 65% polyester and 35% cotton. I’ve tried numerous to soak the 2 items in bleach for days and dying them with Rit black dye. I’ve probably spent over $40 alone on the bleaches and dyes. I’ve consulted local dying specialist and they want to charge me $85 bucks??? YIKES!!!! I just want to get these two items black and surprise my girlfriend. What do you recommend I can do without breaking the budget?? Please help me dizzy. If you or anyone knows of any affordable place to dye these 2 items, please let me know. Thank you Dizzy!!!

    desperate boyfriend in need, Sincerely,

    Jimmy

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Jimmy, Actually $85 doesn’t sound too bad if they can truly guarantee an outcome! Did you tell them the fiber content?
      In my professional opinion, these items can’t be dyed. Polyester doesn’t take dye, & while rayon can be dyed, once you have treated a garment with bleach, it won’t take dye at all. Sorry.

  44. derriann says:

    Hi I want to accent my place with purple and instead of buying more pillows I want to dye a few pieces. I have a few cream pillows that are micro fiber. Will the dye take to these pillow cases?? I have the rit liquid dye bottle.

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Sorry, Rit won’t dye microfiber. You can dye cotton muslin & make new covers for the pillows!
      Have fun,
      Jennifer

  45. Jessica says:

    I bought 100% polyester dresses thry were white ones was cream I tried dying them in a pit on stove with rit dye. Some turned out pink and others a purplish color. How can I get these chocolate brown? My wedding is in sept

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Sorry, polyester won’t take the dye at all, or else it stains, as you found. Time to go shopping.
      best, Jennifer

  46. Hi, I bought a 100%cotton dress which has white cotton eyelet sleeves and a light beige torso patterned weave. I need to change the colour as the bride is wearing beige. Can I dye the item dark blue. I,e, will the beige go blue, or will it go brown? Sonia, the future mother-in-law.

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Sonia,
      You can try going for a dark blue, it might work! Keep in mind that the
      thread probably will not dye. I suggest that you use the reactive dyes available at Dharma Trading Co. You’ll also need soda ash & ordinary table salt. Check the Dharma website for instructions.
      All dyeing is an experiment,
      Jennifer

  47. Sue says:

    I would like to buy a dress off of ebay, but only if I know that I can die it a colour. Enough grey in my wardrobe already!
    It is a combo of cotton/modal/spandex. What do you think??

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      If you want to study dyeing, check out the info at Dharma Trading Co. or Pro Chemical. Otherwise I suggest that you search the vast resources on ebay for a dress in colors that you like!

  48. Arielle grietzer says:

    Hello,
    I would like to turn white cotton bassinet sheets to a dark pink. Can you help me?

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      It’s possible to dye the white cotton sheets. YOu will need fiber reactive dye from Dharma Trading Co, soda ash (also from Dharma) & ordinary table salt. YOu can dye them in the washer. REad the instructions at the Dharma website carefully. I suggest Fuchsia Red to get the maximum dark pink. Have fun!!

  49. Sam says:

    Hi – I have a white dress 100% silk (all layers silk) that I would love to dye a blue color. Is this possible & if so what is the best product line to use?
    Thanks!

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      I don’t recommend dyeing a constructed silk garment like this. Silk will shrink & twist, & the thread/trim will not dye. Time to go shopping!

  50. piers says:

    I have a pair 100% cotton slacks that are burgundy what colour will i get if i use a navy blue dye?

  51. CS Sharma says:

    Can we dye viscose portion of the fabric before dyeing of polyester. Is such dyes are available in the market ?

  52. Cherie says:

    Hi dizzy ,
    I have a white bandage dress that I would like to dye purple or black. It is 90% rayon 9% polyester 1% spandex any suggestions happy to experiment

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      I’d suggest going for purple, if anything. Keep in mind that rayon may shrink, & dyeing is a hot water & agitation process. Try the reactive dyes for cellulose fibers available at dharmatrading.com.

  53. DizzyLettuce says:

    Hi Cherie,
    You won’t be able to get black. You can try purple with the MX reactive dyes from dharmAtrading.com I suggest the colorway Imperial Purple. You’ll also need soda ash & ordinary table salt. Keep in mind dyeing is a hot water process & may result in shrinkage & twisting! Have fun!

  54. Carol says:

    I am going to dye silk yardage for a doll dress. It needs to have gradations of color from dark navy to lighter blue. I purchased the silk from Dharma along with the navy acid dye. I plan to dye the fabric in hot water on the stove and lower the fabric incrementally into the hot water dye bath. I purchased more fabric (at least double the yardage) than I need for the project so will experiment on a small length prior to dyeing a larger section. I know this is going to be tedious but does this sound like an effective way to get the gradation in color I’m after? I believe the effect is called hombre in the fabric world. On the dye I purchased from Dharma I do not see instructions to add vinegar to the stove top method but do for the washing machine method. Also, I did not see a recommendation on the Dharma site to wash with Synthropol. I did run the silk through a rinse cycle and the dryer to preshrink it. How essential is the Synthropol wash? I you are interested in viewing the pattern, it is on the PixieFaire website, the MVC Ardeth Dress Pattern . Also, are reactive and acid dyes to different types of dye? I’m thinking they are and I’m thinking from you article that the acid will give me the vivid dark navy we want better than the reactive dye. Thanks! Carol

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Carol,
      I like your proposed plan. Synthropol prewash is not crucial at this point, unless you fabric has a lot of seracin that your prewash did not remove. In general, fabric from Dharma is ready to dye & doesn’t require so much prewash.

      This method is called ombre which means shadow or shade in French. I suggest adding the vinegar to your dye solution before you begin dipping. You want the dye to “strike” immediately & with gradual effect, which vinegar will effect. If you were going for a solid color, then you would put in the vinegar at the end of the dyeing process. Wash by hand at the end with Synthropol (small amount). Acid dyes will work great for what you are doing & are less messy (they will strike completely – your dyebath should be close to clear when you are finished, no rinse out of excess dye).

      Have fun, this sounds like a great project!

  55. Janet Robinson says:

    So I have been trying to dye brown carpenter pants from dark brown to black with no success. I have done the color remover and have done the stove topo method and the washing machine method with black dye but they always come out a dark brown. I am getting fed up! Any suggestions? Thanks Janet

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Janet, black is really hard to get. If your pants are all cotton, you can try the reactive dyes available at dharmatrading.com – you’ll also need table salt & soda ash (available from Dharma). Read their notes on dyeing black – you’ll need a lot of salt & pretty hot water. Good luck!

  56. Dareen Abney says:

    Hello! I have attempted to dye my maid if honor’s olive green dress teal blue 3 times. Twice with Rit’s teal dye then once with tulip’s turquoise dye. It wont turn at all. The dress is 95% modal. Any advice?

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      I am not sure if you can do it. But, you are on the right track with trying turquoise. I suggest that you get the reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Company – you’ll also need soda ash & ordinary table salt. Modal is a cellulose fiber that will take the reactive dye. Read all instructions on the Dharma website! Good luck!

  57. Katie says:

    I have a dress that’s 97% cotton 3% spandex. It’s navy blue with mint polka dots. I’d like to dye it black. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      I don’t suggest trying to overdye this fabric. YOu will not be able to get a solid black, as you are adding color to both the navy & mint. If you want to try it, & you are willing to experiment, try the reactive dyes available at dharmatrading.com. Read all instructions for dyeing black on the dharma website carefully!

  58. Daniel says:

    Hello :),
    I’ve been trying to find a lavender blue ito (it’s the fabric on the handle of a Katana) but the best i could find was a cotton blue, is there anyway to make it lavender blue or around that?.
    Thank you in advance

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Hi Daniel,
      check out the cotton fabrics available here at fabrics.net! If you really can’t find what you want, you can get some prepared-for-dyeing fabric from dharmatrading.com, & some lavender reactive dye. REad all instructions carefully!!

  59. I am making my daughter a tutu for a school play but I have been unable to find tulle material in the exact shade of blue that I need for it. Would it be possible to permanately color or paint white tulle to get the shade of blue I am needing? If it is what is the best method for doing it and what products would work for this? I read something online about using food coloring but wasn’t sure if it would permanetly color the tulle so that the blue wouldn’t wind up commimg off. All ideas and tips are greatly appreciated!

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      HI Shelly,
      You can dye nylon tulle with the acid dyes available at Dharma Trading Co. Also check here at fabrics.net, the store has many colors of nylon tulle. You may find what you are looking for!
      Dyeing Details: Make sure it is nylon tulle! Polyester will not take the dye. You can dye in the washer with HOT water, or in a simmering pot on the stove. If your washing machine water is not HOT, then pour in a pot of boiling water. read all directions carefully. Have fun, you may get hooked!

  60. Khamaal says:

    Hi, I am looking for glider and ottoman combo for a nursery. Someone is willing to sell a nice one, for cheap, but not a color I’m looking for. It’s currently brown buffalo checkered. Is it possible to dye a brown fabric a lighter color like pink, purple, or even silver/gray? The checkered fabric looks like darker brown and light brown (almost beige), so I assume the checkers will come out different shades.
    Thanks!

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      This can’t be dyed. But, you could have it reupholstered, & if the price is right on the set, the total cost should still be reasonable. Good luck!

  61. Kaitie says:

    Hello, I’m building a costume and have been able to find all the pieces I nee for it! But they’re in various shades of purple when they all need to match! I have a 92% Nylon/8% Spandex shirt (it’s like a dance leotard top) that is a bright shade of purple and I want to dye it a sort of dark purple/eggplant color to match the jeans I’m wearing it with. Any suggestions on dyes to use or how to match the two? Thank you!

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Nylon & spandex can be dyed using acid dyes available from dharmAtrading.com. You will need to do it on the stove with simmering water. Try a dark purple or navy, you may need to experiment with colors. Remember all dyeing is an experiment!

  62. How can I dye a polyester flower girl dress to a light blue?

  63. Mary j says:

    I am trying to recycle my prom dress for my wedding my prom dress is a light purple color and I want to dye it white. The dress is 100% polyester. What is the best way to go about doing this?

  64. Grace O'Connor says:

    Hi, I want to dye a khaki green coat (100% cotton with a 100% polyester lining) to a navy blue colour, will it work properly or not?

  65. George says:

    Hi. Im trying to do a cheap (M) two-face costume for Halloween. I want to colour half my white shirt black, half my black tie white, and one leg from my trousers white aswell. So now half my costume is black and the other half is white. Im not bothered about using the clothes after this. But im not sure about how to colour them, should I use a spray can or dye them? A bit of both? If I dye it will it run up the fabric and not be a fine black and white line? Do some materials work better than others? Thank you.

  66. CJ says:

    Hi Dizzy
    I have a 100% wool felt cloak, sage green, that I would like to scrunch tie dye for a mottled effect (it is for a ranger outfit). I have done so many days of research on how to tie dye wool…but there is NO information on the web. I don’t know whether I should follow the instructions for stove top dying or microwave or oven; if I should tub dye or use squirt bottles. I know acid dyes have to have heat to set right, as well as an acid to make them absorb. Do you have any advice on the best way to approach this?

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      I would try squirt bottles & rubberbands. Pull up some parts of the wool fabric, secure them with rubberbands, & squirt on the acid dye which has been dissolved in HOT water (like coffeemaker hot) mixed with a bit (1-2 T) white vinegar. Wrap up the whole thing as best you can in a big plastic bag & put it in the microwave for 3 or so min until it’s very hot & steamy. If your microwave isn’t that big, you can steam it in a big pot with a rack in the bottom (no plastic bag). It doesn’t need long, just 10 min or so. Keep an eye on it, don’t let the wool scorch. Let it cool, rinse the whole thing with water & a bit of synthropol, let dry. (remember, all dyeing is an experiment.) Have fun, you may get hooked!

  67. mj says:

    I bought dylon tulip red to dye my lab coat red but it’s 35% cotton and 65% polyester will it still turn out the bright red I want and if not is there a way to turn it bright red.Thanks.

    • DizzyLettuce says:

      Dharma Trading sells an iDye product that reports to dye cotton/poly blend. I haven’t tried it so I can’t vouch for it. Check out the Idye information at http://www.dharmatrading.com. REad all instructions carefully! YOu’ll need Idye poly & Idye natural. Have fun!