Saturday, 26 April 2014


I'm still on my Easter hols so no cards to show today (but will share my birthday cards next post) so I thought I'd blog about my recent dyeing sessions instead, it's quite a long post so feel free to skip it!
Because I like paper-crafting people assume I must like other crafts, such as knitting or sewing, as well but I'm afraid to say I can't knit or sew at all.

The other day I was sorting out a bag of clothes for the charity shop when I came across this white top, above.
It's quite a few years old (as evidenced by the label because Etam has been closed for years, hasn't it?) but looked like new because it had hardly been worn. The reason it was never worn was because, as I've got older, I've found I can't wear white so much.

In the past I've had good results from dyeing clothes to a more suitable colour so I was happy to try with this top, it would only cost the packet of dye, so even if it didn't work out okay I'd just be out of pocket five pounds or so. I can't sew or knit but I can dye :)

On the day I went to buy the dye I also picked up this white vest, £3 in Matalan, with the intention of dyeing it too.
The main rule when dyeing is to check the fabric composition; natural fibres such as silk, cotton or linen will dye but man-made fabrics won't (not with the dye I use anyway). The long-sleeved top is 100% viscose, which I believe is a cotton derivative, so it wouldn't be an issue, however even if the fabric is dye-friendly what you sometimes find is that the thread used for stitching it together repels the dye.

In the past I've used Dylon hand-dye (for silk) and also their machine dye.
The hand-dye gave excellent results but resulted in my hands being dyed dark grey as well as the clothing; I did wear rubber gloves but they leaked! It's easy to use if a little boring, basically swishing the fabric round in a bucket for ages.

The washing-machine dye takes longer but is more user-friendly, it doesn't effect your machine but it does mean having it on for the best part of a day.
I studied the colour chart and decided to go for China Blue. My thinking is that if you use a fairly light colour and you don't like it then you can always re-dye it a dark grey, navy, or black.
The colour intensity also depends slightly on how much fabric you are dyeing at once, you cannot use half a packet of dye and expect it to be half the depth of colour. The full packet has to be used but you can try putting an old towel or two in at the same time because they will absorb some of the dye and may help lighten the results.
In fact my only real complaint with the Dylon dyes is that I wish they did more colours, you can track down limited editions from time to time though.

While I was considering dyeing the tops I decided to do my old jeans as well. This version of dye is the easiest to use but only comes in three colours, one of which is black.
I tend to wear black jeans a lot in the winter and every year or so re-dye a fading pair to get a few more years out of them.

you can see the contrast here between some faded jeans and a black top, the top got thrown in to be re-dyed at the same time

With the jeans-dye you don't need anything else, with the China Blue machine dye I had to add some table salt. The actual process is very simple, the clothes need to be washed first and left damp. The dye, and salt if required, then goes straight in to the drum of the machine and the damp clothes added, then a 40 degree wash....

The next bit is the most exciting. You can watch the water, and the fabric, changing colour during the wash but really you have no idea what it is actually going to turn out like. Even with black jeans you would expect just to see blacker jeans but actually sometimes they look quite different because they lose that 'contrast' that you sometimes get with denim.

After the cycle has finished you need to put soap powder in and run the cycle again.
When that has completed your fabric has been dyed:

So from a white long-sleeved top that I never wore to a lovely powder blue that I know I will get a lot of use from :)

The white stitching is just about visible but it looks fine. Obviously depends on the garment as to whether any contrasting stitching would be an issue. My silk top that I dyed dark grey (was originally beige) has white stitching too but it looks great.

My white vest also came out perfect. I'm just annoyed that I was out-bid on eBay for a lovely white linen top because I wanted to do that at the same time; dyeing does get slightly addictive!

After I've finished I tend to run a cleaning wash cycle.
I do this once a month or so anyway whether I've been dyeing or not because I like to give the washing machine a good run.
You just need a bag of soda crystals, pour a cup in to the drum, and run at the hottest wash you can. It clears the gunk of soap powder residue etc from the machine. If you have a lot of soap build up then the first time you do the soda crystal thing it might result in a slight smell, this is because any gunk has been dislodged. If that happens you need to repeat a cycle or two until the smell goes and the water is nice and clear (powder residue can make it look grey as well as whiffy).

Dylon do guarantee that their dye will not stain your machine and I haven't found any issues with left-over dye but I usually put some an old towel in for the first normal wash just to check.

Back to cardmaking for next posts :)

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