Dying clothes: a bad idea?

I have this nice new t-shirt that has, to my chagrin, acquired a mysterious permanent sort of stain. I’ve washed it a couple times to no effect. Today I brought it by the dry-cleaner and asked the lady there if she thought they could get it out. She said she didn’t think so. Bummed that I can’t wear this shirt to work after owning for only a couple months, I said, “Well, maybe I’ll dye it.”

The dry-clean lady said, “Oh no, don’t do that.”
I asked her why not. She just repeated that I shouldn’t do it. Her English wasn’t very good and I thought maybe she couldn’t express why it wasn’t a good plan.

Does anyone have any experience with dying clothes? The shirt is pink, I was thinking of attempting a nice dark red. Is this idea doomed to failure?

Your best bet is to strip it first then dye it. Otherwise you get sort of an uneven coloration. Think of dye sort of as really sloppy watercolor. The other problem is that you may find that many of the red dyes are really yellow based and many pinks are kind of blue based so you can wind up with mud. The rit collor remive is ok, i usualy boiled it (be sure to ventilate this stuff is nasty.) you can also do it in a washing machine there should be instructions on the box. Wash it very well before dying.

What I am assuming in all of this is the shirt is cotton or silk based. It is a whole other ball of wax if it isn’t. A little poly sort of nixes the process or takes us into toxic dyes.

Most clothes I have attempted to dye have came out a really crappy looking color much different than I expected and even worse when I have tried to do it to cover over stains, the stains still show up in a way because that part of the shirt is still slightly a different color than the rest of the shirt. For example you may dye this shirt red but in the spot where the stain was it will be red but possibly a little lighter or darker.
The other problem is when you dye it you need to do it in hot water and the shirt may shrink and some dyes are really irritating to your skin.
I reccomend using a color remover first and then dying the shirt and remember for your first wash after you dye it to wash it alone because home dyed clothes give off alot more dye than even new clothes.
Definitely go for it since the shirt is already ruined because you have nothing to lose, just remember to use the color remover first.

Huh. After reading the caveats, I’m starting to think that the dry cleaning lady was right. It doesn’t sound like I would end up with a nice even red shirt that I could wear to the office. The shirt is, btw, 100% cotton.

Dyeing it actually shouldn’t be problem, but you need to use a stronger fabric dye than RIT. I use Procion MX dyes on all sorts of stuff with no problems whatsoever, including previously stained fabrics. 100% cotton, especially, should be fine. The big difference is the dyes. You will want one that requires a soda ash soak before dyeing. This strips the coating of the fabric to prepare it for the dye, and the dye itself (forgive me for not knowing more details of the science involved here) is stronger, so it bonds better and fades far less.

I’ve had good results tie-dyeing stuff that’s already ruined. The type of dyes Althea is talking about is what I’ve used before. You probably won’t want to wear it to the office, but an occasional dose of hippie in your wardrobe can be fun!

I recently bought a silk blend cardigan in a sort of beige cream (to wear to a wedding, even though I didn’t really like the colour) and found it had a stain when I got it home. Since it was really pretty cheap (on sale) I threw it in to dye with a hemp fabric hat I was dying brown (using some kind of fiber reactive dye with the scary ash soda stuff and all.) It came out a really luscious deep pink, a little streaky, but the whole process sort of softened the fabric too so it’s not very noticeable because it drapes very softly. I knew it was an idea very likely to fail because it was a silk blend, not pure silk, but it wasn’t a hard process, and it was fun, and in the end I got a garment I get loads of compliments on. You can’t see where the stain was, which may be thanks to the pre-dying washing process with a grease remover.

One thing I wasn’t expecting was that this dye method was time consuming, lots of standing around stirring. But next year I am definitely getting a bunch of cotton t-shirts and dying them to colours I want to wear rather than relying on what’s in the shops (I wear slightly fitted cotton ts to work most days, and am getting a wee bit old to be living in all black.)

So I say, since it’s all cotton, go for it, and have fun!

If you know someone who sews perhaps you could look into using the shirt to make a pattern for another one like it in a similar fabric. And the color of your choice, of course. :slight_smile:

Perhaps the stained area would react differently do the dye. So the stain would be still be noticable just a diffent colour.

It’s still worth a shot though.

Huh, well what do ya know, you can home-dye clothes. I had this idea years ago, but never looked into it.

Alright, so I have some questions.

How much does this dye stuff cost? where can I get it?(sorry googling on dial up is pathetic =( )

Can I remove all color from something and make it white?


It would probably fall apart.

Another problem with dying clothes is the thread.
A lot of times, the thread used is a poly blend, which doesn’t take dye well.

I had a shirt I dyed but the thread stayed white. Sometimes it can look neat, but other times it can look horrible.

doh, oh well. thanks.