Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dying Clothes and Household Linens

In these times of economic uncertainty, it's time we rethink buying new clothing and linens every time something has become faded, stained, or in need of repair. This is why I dye my things to give them new life. A few weeks ago I was very tempted to go buy a new fall coat. My coat had become more than a little dinghy. It had taken a ride with a crayon in the dryer, and to top things off, I was just plain bored with it. So instead of going and dropping a bunch of cash on a new coat, I dyed it a nice cocoa brown. I am also considering replacing the buttons on the coat to punch it up a bit more. Now I am happy with my coat. It looks fresh and all the stains are covered up.

My sister, Christine, also did something similar with her couch cushion covers. They were white canvas cotton covers and were inevitably getting dirty. She dyed them purple to match her living room, and is now a big fan of dyeing fabrics.

Dyeing for some Tips?

The Dye
Dyeing fabrics is a lot easier than you think. Anyone can buy a package of Rit Dye in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores. Walmart, Target and craft stores also tend to carry Rit products. Rit is cheap too! A box costs about $1.99 and a bottle costs about $3.99. There are many colors and washing aids available, all of which you can see on the color chart at While you are there, check out their dyeing tips!

The Technique
Many items can be dyed. As long as an item is made from natural fibers,( ie. cotton, wool, and silk) it should be suitable for dyeing. My coat, for example, was made of 100% cotton, so it dyed well.

There are several ways you can dye fabrics. All of the options are on the back of the Rit box. My personal favorite is the washing machine technique. It's fast, the results are great, and you can dye more than one item at a time.

A Project
About twice a year I do the following project to revive my denim. I gather up all my dark denim, make any necessary repairs, then grab my handy bottle of Rit Blue Denim.

I follow all the directions on the back of the bottle for washing machine dyeing, then add a 1/2 cup of table salt (the salt makes the denim buttery soft) and a cup of vinegar (helps set the dye). The results are fantastic! My denim is crisp and new looking and in a few moths I will dye them again. After your clothes are dyed you'll need to wash them with special care. Wash them in cold water for at least 4 washes to help keep the fabric from bleeding.

Some Items to Dye:

  • Denim
  • T-Shirts
  • Canvas Bags
  • Socks
  • Pillow Cases
  • Bedspreads
  • Sheets
  • Small Cotton Rugs
  • Towels
  • Table Cloths
  • Curtains

So you see, with some dye and a little love and care you can use you clothes and linens for a long time, keeping more items out of the landfill, and keeping more cash in your pocket!

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