There had been a Dyeing business just down the road from me for as long as I can remember. However, when I decided that the time had come to renovate my beloved but tired and faded duvet cover, I was devastated to discover that they had closed down. All the references online seemed to point back to the now shut business.
I had tried dyeing things in the past without much success and there seemed to be a very limited range of dye colours available from most places. Then I was absolutely delighted to discover that my favourite craft store The Ribbon Rose had a fantastic range of Rit dyeing products. The time had come for me to give dyeing another go.
I thought it would be best to start with something smaller than a heavy duvet cover. I had a much loved aqua coloured denim jacket that had faded in a not very attractive manner, so this was my first attempt. And I was absolutely delighted with the outcome.
Ritdye.com has all sorts of useful information and videos on how to use the various products. Colour is important to me so I was pleased to see that they also had large examples online of what the various dye colours were like. I purchased an aquamarine liquid all-purpose dye along with a dye fixative.
Following the instructions, I first weighed my jacket: for each 500g of fabric weight you need to use half a bottle of the dye; or you can increase the amount if you want a more intense colour. Mine was approx 600g so I used the whole bottle as I wasn’t sure how strong a colour would result.
Then I washed the jacket before filling my laundry sink with about 10 litres of hot water. The instructions said to use the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. Cotton is very robust so I added a kettle full of boiling water as well (you can use a stovetop method to keep the water nearly boiling if you prefer). Then I added 1 cup of salt (for synthetics you use 1 cup of vinegar) and stirred in the contents of the dye bottle.
Make sure you wear gloves and preferably gloves that don’t have a hole in the finger!
I put the jacket in the dye and then stirred it around for about 30 minutes – to make sure that dye can get evenly to all the fabric. Then I rinsed the jacket in cool water before putting it back in hot water with the dye fixative for another 20 minutes – stirring again. Then time for a final wash in the washing machine with an old towel.
They warn that the dye looks very dark and that the colour on the wet fabric will appear darker than it will when it dries so I didn’t have any real expectation of what the final product would look like. I was stunned!! It was a beautiful rich colour that had completely and evenly covered the fabric with no indication of where the previous fading had been.
Next I decided to try my luck with a chair cover that had faded in the sun. It has a navy blue cover but the navy dye was temporarily out of stock. I thought that the indigo dye looked pretty close but I learnt to my peril that you really do need to go as dark as you possibly can to match a previous dark colour. Although it did take the dye, the faded areas stayed a lighter colour than the original. So I dyed it again with a much better result – if you look closely you can still see a difference but it is so much better.
I also tried using the washing machine for this attempt. I found it harder to judge the right quantity of water as you need enough for the fabric to move around easily and be submerged. But it certainly is a lot easier to manage the stirring when you don’t have to do it by hand. I kept an eye on the washing cycle and stopped and restarted a few times so that it would simply stir rather than start draining and rinsing.
Then I was ‘on a roll’ and decided it was time to try with the duvet cover – in the washing machine of course. Because the duvet cover was so much bigger and heavier, I had to use 3 bottles of denim blue dye (but I threw in a table cloth at the last minute as well so I got my money’s worth). I kept it in the dye mixture for an hour to maximise the colour intensity, adding a kettle-full of boiling water half way through to keep up the temperature. And I am absolutely delighted with the result. If I look really closely I can sort of see where it is a slightly lighter colour but it is so much brighter and fresher looking.