If at First You Don’t Succeed

I’ve been itching to add more color to our house recently, without breaking the bank.  While innocently browsing Pinterest, I came across an idea.  Dip dyeing fabric.  Easy peasy, right?  You’re smart enough to realize this wasn’t as easy as I originally thought.  So, I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up one box of purple powdered dye and set to work.  What did I dye?  I decided to ditch the plain white shower curtain we had in the main bathroom.

Of course most shower curtains are synthetic or a blend, but the people at Rit suggest an all cotton fabric.  So, I found an old white king sized flat sheet to dye, hem to size and hang as a shower curtain.  With my dye in hand, I gathered the necessary supplies.  A 5 gallon bucket, hot water, salt, dish soap (I didn’t have liquid detergent so I improvised) a measuring cup, bowl, paint stirrer stick, and rubber gloves and took my dirty work outside.

Now looking back, that was mistake number one.  I decided I wanted an ombre dyed curtain, with the top two-thirds white and the bottom a three-layered ombre.  Because of my layers, I decided to divide the box of dye to make my darker shades.  I used 1/4 of the box and about 2.5 gallons of hot water for the lightest layer and let it soak for about 15 minutes.

Then, I mixed up another 1/4 of the box to add to the solution I had going to dye my second layer.

Again, I let this soak for roughly 15 minutes.

I thought the distinction of layers was pretty noticeable, so I continued on with my plan.

Then, I used the remaining half of the box for my bottom layer, adding it to the mix and letting it soak.

When I thought I had several distinguished layers, I started rinsing the fabric in warm water, again outside.  Lesson to you folks, don’t dye large pieces of fabric outside.  Why?  Because the fabric started falling and I grabbed it with my gloved, dye hand.

Mistake number two, I didn’t rinse the fabric out thoroughly enough.  After washing in the machine, I had about 10 areas where the dye touched the undyed portion, leaving ugly blobs.

Mistake number three, I just gathered he fabric in my hand, so the bottom wasn’t even, making the dyed are wavy.

Mistake number four, I either used too little dye or didn’t let my fabric soak long enough because the dyed areas weren’t nearly as dark as I’d like.  Of course, this mistake is personal preference.  Total failure cost: $2.75 and a smidge of my pride, which doesn’t make it an epic failure, but annoying none the less.

Please tell me someone out there has made at least one of these mistakes when dyeing something?  Don’t you hate when you have a brilliant idea and it doesn’t work well for you?

14 thoughts on “If at First You Don’t Succeed

  1. I once attempted to dye a toule type fabric in the bathroom at my dorm. Now that was an epic failure. The dye only took on the hems where I used cotton thread to sew it. Luckily my sister still liked her whimsical curtains even though they were still (mostly) white.

  2. I dyed a tablecloth last Sunday and it turned out great!

    My tips….

    I used RIT liquid dye.

    I was hesitant at first…. but did it in my washing machine. I used the hottest water, filled the machine full and then put my tablecloth in. I ran it thru two of the longest wash cycles for a total of 30 minutes… then rinsed it and threw it in the dryer for a few minutes. The bottle said to wash it with detergent afterwards, but I skipped that. I want the color to set as long as possible before I wash it.

    Afterwards, I ran a full wash cyle with detergent and a cup of bleach to clean out my washer.

    Easy peasy. I was really nervous and afraid I’d screw up my oversized tablecloth… but it looks brand new.

    1. Heather S. I’m glad I tried it with the sheet I already had. I’d be more peesed (the nicer way of saying pissed) if it didn’t work with the sheet I actually paid for. Ha. Definitely learn from my mistakes though.

      Leslie, That’s funny. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with dye issues. Ha.

      Karen, The liquid might be better. If I planned to dye my entire sheet purple, I definitely would have used the washer because I think it takes a lot of the guess work out. I’m so glad to hear your tablecloth turned out!


  3. I have a pair of pants I am currently trying to dye. I don’t think I can use the washing machine method because I have a front loader. Anyone know if that matters….not sure I can open it when it is full of water, having never tried it.

  4. i used RIT dye on 2 pairs of paints & a shirt. on the pants they color is getting all weird(faded in spots) & i’ve been washing them in cold water. perhaps dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be 😦 maybe there is a secret to it. if so i’d love to hear it

  5. Sorry to hear about your dye issues. Just hang in there it will get better with more practice!
    I have had some pretty good luck with dyeing things in the past. But, I have found that you need to let the cloth sit for what seems like forever before moving on to rinsing, etc. I have also had really good luck with both the liquid and powder Rit dye, but I used many, many boxes to get deeper colors, plus I have done custom mixes to get the right shade. For instance, I wanted to dye the really old curtains that came in our old house (because we didn’t have the cash to buy new ones right away) and I wanted a deep shade of green. I ended up using about 4 boxes of hunter green and 2 boxes of the darkest brown per panel. In this instance I used a front loader, but loaded the dye through the soap dispenser. They ended up coming out so nice that we never ended up replacing them. It takes some tweaking, but you will get the hang of it. I also highly recommend keeping black cotton pants looking fresh with fairly regular dye baths….you know how they can get so faded from washing. I have kept favorite clothes in rotation for years using this method to keep them looking new.

  6. Instead of using small buckets, I bet a plastic kiddie pool would work well. You could line it with a plastic drop cloth or garbage bags so that you would dye the pool itself. And then maybe just keep adding more dye to the pool for each step. And rinse really well between the steps. I found in the past that you really have to saturate the fabric to get the color you want because a lot will rinse out. Oh, and use latex gloves! Then you can change them often.

  7. I think you did great! Try overdyeing the whole thing the same color again. You’ve already done the hombre work- If you do an all over soak with dye again you may get exactly what you want!

  8. I LOVE that you just dyed something purple! I did a purple dye project about a week or so ago and haven’t blogged about it just yet… I had some decent success, but also some failures! I’ll have it up on the blog soon! Your shower curtain is super fun though!

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