Closet edit question: re-dyeing?

[Heh, fixed my misspelling throughout the post - I would prefer dyeing over dying, for sure!]

I edit like crazy, and I don't hold onto things I don't love. But I have a dilemma. I just pulled out several favorites that are still on-point for my style, but faded. They're high quality items that would otherwise have years of life yet. No pilling, fraying, stretching. There are also a few that started out as a faded black that clashes with my other black, and so I never wear them.

Normally I'd just pass them on and get new things, but I'm thinking of re-dyeing the few items with huge style potential.

Have any of you re-dyed clothing? Back in Girl Scouts, I learned how to dye from my leader's daughter, who was a legit Deadhead selling tie dye at Grateful Dead shows. We used soda ash as a pre-treatment then Procion fiber-reactive dyes.

Black dye is hard (though easier when you're starting with something that's already black). Procion has good black dyes for natural fibers, although they work best on raw cotton without treatments. I haven't tried them on clothing bought at retail. Also, dyeing is a huge mess and I haven't tried it in my own washing machine.

(Why isn't there a service to lovingly re-dye the black clothing of aging goths?)

In Finds are the things I'm considering dyeing. The Banana Republic cropped shirt is a great combo with all my new high rise jeans -- I love the style. The dramatic Oak tunic always gets comments but it's so faded now (and missing a button) so it either needs repairs or it's going to the consignment store. The Madewell cropped tops (heavier weight than a tee) are practically new, fit perfectly, and are perfectly on-trend for 2018. Same with the Proenza shirt, with a brownish undertone, although that one might be a good target for resale since I never wear it.

I might add photos later of these items on me, to see if people think they're worth keeping.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • replied 5 years ago

    You made me laugh with the goth comment.  

    I personally have never dyed anything in my own washing machine.  I would be somewhat afraid of what might happen in subsequent washes.  

  • JAileen replied 5 years ago

    I dyed a thrifted JCrew cotton sweater, from beige to denim blue. I used RIT dye, in a big pot on the stove. The pot is never used for cooking! The key is stirring constantly. For black, I would use way more dye than recommended, to get a really saturated color.

  • Jenn replied 5 years ago

    I re-dye black items all the time, when they start to get faded. Sometimes, you lose the specific undertones of the original item, but I’m happy to have all my blacks match, so that’s not a big deal to me. Honestly, I don’t do anything special. I just use RIT.

  • Sal replied 5 years ago

    I have dyed recently with pretty good success. Both were white items dyed to colours - not black. I used a bucket and Dylan sachet.

    The items are good although one slightly patchy. Agitating more often would have helped. The thread did not dye on the jacket - suspect it was nylon and jacket cotton.

    I would definitely try it - on cotton rich items. Start with one you care the least about. In my case I felt I had nothing to lose as the items were not being worn and one was yellowed from sunscreen.

  • nemosmom replied 5 years ago

    I have dyed successfully using RIT dye. The key is to make sure you use the correct formula - dye for cottons only on items that are 100%cotton and dye for synthetics for everything else (even cotton blends). Dyes are relatively inexpensive, and if you were going to pass on an item anyway, it might not hurt to try to salvage it if it’s only the color that is an issue.

  • cindysmith replied 5 years ago

    I have (well, had, I think one of DH's employees stole it) a 5 gallon bucket that was never used for anything but dying clothes. They're only a few bucks at your nearby home improvement store, and they keep the mess out of your washer & kitchen sink. I filled mine in the shower and stirred it with an unused paint stirring stick or a giant cooking spoon bought just for dying.

    I say go for it. If you're already not wearing the garments, then you can't wind up any worse off than you are right now LOL
    And you should have good results if the garments are already black but faded.
    After dying, soak the garments in a vinegar & salt solution to set the dye, and when drying them don't use a dryer, just line dry them inside out so the inside fades but not the outside. That's how I get my dark garments to stay dark; just don't look at the inside of the clothes ;-)

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    Ok, I'm convinced! Now I want to do it RIGHT NOW. And the Dharma Trading Co store is only 30 min from here! I had no idea. Dharma is the best source for all dyeing materials, including Procion fiber reactive dye in bulk. I was going to order from them online, but maybe I'll just drive up there right now!

    These are the dyes that we use for tie dye, and my facebook friends have had good luck with them for re-dyeing blacks, too. Expensive, but it won't bleed at all after it's set. RIT seems to have more risk of transferring later.

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    You need to look into that Start Up idea: re-dying the black clothing of aging goths :)

    I have zero dying experience, but wish you luck.

  • Jane replied 5 years ago

    I've used dye in the past and followed the instructions exactly and had very good results. Some dyes need salt too. Good luck!

  • Runcarla replied 5 years ago

    Let me know how this works out. I've been curious since Jenn posted about dyeing her blacks on a different thread.

  • LaPed replied 5 years ago

    Hah, I actually usually prefer my blacks faded. :) I definitely prefer Dharma dyes over RIT. The only thing I miss about my last rental is the huge old top-loading washer. Totally inefficient, but great for dyeing. Sometimes I fantasize about buying a used one to keep in the basement for projects... The stove top method works all right, but it's a pain to do multiple pieces one-by-one.

  • kkards replied 5 years ago

    I’m always in awe of what my fellow fabbers do...I didn’t even know there was any other dye but RIT. And other than a Halloween costume back in 6th grade never dyed anything. Please let us know how it turns out

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    kkards, I wouldn't have known, except for the Girl Scouts thing. We went up to a geodesic dome house on top of a mountain where our leader's daughter was house sitting with her Deadhead friends, and they taught us all about tie dye. My shirt was so vivid! I'd still have it, except some a-hole destroyed it in my high school gym locker.

  • Cardiff girl replied 5 years ago

    Dylon do a dye pod that has everything in it ,salt etc.Just follow the instructions and pop in the washing machine ,gives very professional results.l ve not had as good results using the dye that you do by hand in a bucket can come out patchy.

  • Jules replied 5 years ago

    I love that Girl Scouts involved going to a DeadHead party house to learn about tie dye ! It is a perfect activity for kids that age, and a practical skill, but the context is fun :)

  • Brooklyn replied 5 years ago

    I have used Dylon in a bucket in our laundry. Most recently my mum knitted a jumper for my DH in wool. He loved the jumper but not the colour (lilac). We re-dyed it dark blue with great success.

  • karen13 replied 5 years ago

    I’ve used black Dharma dyes for wool and for cotton jeans. Read their FAQs. They work well. I bought a cheap huge stock pot and do it stove top. I wrote NOT FOR FOOD on the lid and side and store it away from the kitchen with my dyes in it. Start with things you don’t love for practice, and do a bunch of items at once. Btw wool dyes beautifully but be aware most thread in garments is poly and won’t take the same dye.

  • ClaraT replied 5 years ago

    Call the Dye Guy in San Rafael / Novato. I’ve had them dye a slipcover before and don’t know if they do clothes. But is was super affordable and professional and it could help you avoid the mess. If they don’t do clothes, Dharma will steer you right.

  • suntiger replied 5 years ago

    Ive dyed many things with mixed results, just using a bucket and hot water and stirring regularly. Natural fabrics take much better, and its important to be sure to fully wet the fabric first before tossing in dye bath or else its not even. With black you shouldn't have any issue.

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