How to Dye your Light Colored Clothing

DIY-How to Dye your own clothing.

How to Dye your Light Colored Clothing

It’s no secret that I love my white clothing items. But the drawback is obvious with stains & dinginess showing up on these pieces. So I thought I’d take you on a tour of some dye projects!

In the past, my mom has dyed a jacket for me. It was a small, beige, furry bolero jacket that was given to her by a friend. It was a little worse for wear yet it fit me so nicely, so mom and I came up with the idea to dye it a different color. She tried a grey RIT dye and here was the result which I wore for the post here! Needless to say this was before my blogging days, so I didn’t even think to get a “before” photo of the jacket!
DIY-How to Dye your own clothing.

This Project

As for the project I’m showcasing, here is the jacket before dying. This bebe jacket was given to me when my good friend passed away. She had fabulous taste in her clothing, and I was very happy to keep a couple of her items as mementos. This jacket really got quite a bit of wear from me in my working days. It was more of a beige instead of bright white, so it didn’t remind me of the white lab coats that many dentists wear and which I hated!!

DIY-How to Dye your own clothing.

It’s hard to see the stains & dinginess in this photo, but I felt it was past it’s prime as a light colored blazer.

The RIT dye I used for this blazer was a navy blue, powder version. I only had half of the package to use since the other half had been used previously.

There are a couple of ways that the directions say you can use the dye, but both my mom & I have only done it in the sink. If you are interested in the stove top method, check out how Nicole from High Latitude Style does it here!

You can certainly read all the directions on the package of dye, but let me give you a couple of insider tips!

Preparation

I use a plastic pail in our biggest sink in the house, which is the kitchen. Since we just moved into our place a year ago and had the floor redone, I wanted to cover as much of this area as possible. Now this is only to play it safe, because it does clean up off the counters, sink & floor pretty easily. But if you drip some dye on a carpet, or anything that is fabric, then you’re in trouble.

So that’s why you see the white sheet in the picture which is hung from the sink to the floor. And then there is another sheet pooled around me on the floor. I find the best way to get cheap drop cloths is to buy sheets at the thrift store. I use them for all of my DIY projects!

DIY-How to Dye your own clothing.

These are the gloves I used, so the dye doesn’t stain my hands! Aren’t they the cutest work gloves? One of my employees made them for the entire office one year! Truth be told, I’m not the dish washer of the family, so they only get worn for my DIY projects!! But I love that they have a polka dot ruffle added!

Specifics

Dying is really a relatively easy process. You dissolve the powder into the water, and submerge the wet, clothing item into the water. YES, you need to wet the item before putting it into the dyed water. If you want a darker colored item, you leave it in the water longer. For a lighter colored item, take it out of the dyed water sooner. Remember when you remove it from the water, it will look darker because it’s wet. It’s going to dry to be about 2 shades lighter.

Now the laborious part of the procure is to rinse out the item over and over until the water runs clear. I bet this takes almost 20 times to make sure that the dye is all rinsed out. Just think of it as a good arm workout!!

You then let the clothing dry out completely before ironing it or wearing it!

After

Here’s the jacket after the dye process. It came out almost a denim blue which I love! You can see me wearing it in this post, here.

DIY-How to Dye your own clothing.

Now here’s a couple things you may not realize. You can also see how the lining picks up the dye differently than the outer material. It is a detail that doesn’t bother me, but it is something you should be aware of, in case that’s an issue for you. There are also some details that may not dye at all—see that heading below.

As for this jacket—it needed a ton of ironing after I dyed it. I ended up even starching it a couple of times. I think it looks fine in the photos of me wearing it further down in the post, but it’s not quite as stiff as it used to be.

Another project

My other project with dying was these pink pants. They used to be white until I stained them too many times. You can see in this closeup shot how there are a couple of areas where I didn’t get the color very even. This could be due to the fact that I wasn’t as diligent about moving the item around in the dyed water for this project.

DIY-How to Dye your own clothing.

I still wear these pants quite a bit. I don’t think you notice the unevenness of the dyed job from far away, and even up close most people don’t see it unless I point it out! Either that or perhaps people might think it was made this way intentionally?

What doesn’t Dye?

Many times the thread used on clothing items is polyester and doesn’t dye like a natural material does. For these pink pants, I can see the white thread around the zipper. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but it’s something to keep in mind! You can see how this happens in the up close photo around the button hole of the blazer below.

11-24-16 036 (657x1280)

As for my laundry, I do wash the pink pants in the washing machine with my other dark clothes. And then, I also put them in the dryer.

And in case you were wondering about why I only had half a box of RIT dye in the closet. It’s because mom & I used the other half to dye our graphic t-shirts from this series, here! I haven’t photographed either of them yet after they’ve been dyed; but when I do, I’ll make sure to let you all know!!

Try It

I think if you have an item that you feel isn’t great to wear anymore because of dinginess or staining, this is a fabulous project! What do you have to lose? If the garment comes out wonky, you were going to throw it out anyways, right? And the RIT dye is usually under $5, so it’s not an expensive activity!

And as an addition to these tips and tricks, I just had another blogger (Laurie from Vanity and Me) point out the wonderful idea to use black dye to spruce up any washed out black items (even denim)!! Isn’t that brilliant?

I’d love to know if anyone else has had good or bad results with this activity!! Let me know in the comments below.

Keeping in Touch

Are you registered for my emails reminders to let you know when a post goes live? I’d certainly love it if you take the time to sign up and make sure all your friends sign up too!! There are other ways to follow my blog. Facebook readers can see my posts by liking my page. Or my Pinterest page has all of our outfits in a nutshell! And if you’re new to the party, you can always see our outfits organized by categories, here! Don’t forget to check out the deals & discounts too, on this page!

Now in case, you love the look of tie dying, but don’t want to do it yourself, I found some fun pieces to check out:

  • I’ve never attempted dyeing my clothing, but I’ve considered it. I’m always worried I’ll mess it up!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      I always figure if I mess it up—I was going to get rid of it anyways, so no big loss! And really, I think it must be easier than we think, because it’s always worked out pretty well for me. And trust me, not every DIY does!!! 🙂

  • I don’t wear much white but I do have some dingy tank tops that I thought about retiring. Maybe I can dye them instead!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Why not? I always figure if it doesn’t work out, they were going in the trash anyways, and the dye is cheap!!
      🙂

  • Austin Hodgens

    OMG! This is going to come in so handy!!! As a Modern Philosopher, I wear boring white togas day after day. Now I can dye them to add a little color and panache! I’m going to make the blog interns read this post so they can start dying my togas immediately. Thanks, Jodie! 🙂

    • Jodie Filogomo

      I can’t wait to see your collection when the interns are done, Austin!! 🙂
      I think you should go for some tie-dye ones, personally!!!

  • Christina Amore

    This is amazing, I never considered this possibility. I love how the jacket came out! I like it better than when it was white!!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Isn’t it a smart thing? I’m always surprised that I don’t do this to more items! Or hear about others doing it. Except maybe for the fact that we are a disposable society!! But it’s a good way to save money, I think!!

  • Suzanne Dennis

    My grandmother always wore shirtwaist, pastel dresses. In the winter, she just put a sweater over them. I distinctly remember seeing her dye one of those dresses which she said had faded out too much. She did the process in her washing machine using RIT dye. I thought it was like magic! 😊 Remembering this makes me consider how as a society we have almost made clothing disposable. Perhaps it would do us good to rediscover ways to keep using good items rather than getting rid of them and buying more.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      I need to try this in the washing machine now, Suzanne. Another reader said that’s how she always does it, and it would make it easier!
      And you’re right—it is like magic. And much better for our environment, I bet!!

      • Sharon Duerst

        My sister loves to dye her lingerie when it gets drab – or even just to make them more fun! Now they have RIT for synthetics! I tried it on a shower curtain to make it match my wall color, and voila! Thanks for the reminder of how much I love dyeing, Jodie!

        • Jodie Filogomo

          Wow—I never thought to do it for lingerie!! And a shower curtain? That’s totally thinking outside the box!!

  • Helena

    What a great tutorial and, as always, great pictures. The light grey/blue jacket that your mom helped you with is so adorable and goes perfectly with the dress!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Helena!!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Helena!!

  • What a great way of updating your clothing. I’m glad you thought to dye your pieces and share the process to inspire others. The blue jacket is stunning and a great clothing item for any wardrobe.

    http://passportcouture.com

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Brooke!!

  • Melanie

    Thanks for this great tutorial, Jodie. I’m always scared to dye things. Will the colour of the jacket bleed out if it’s washed – do you have to add anything to “fix” it? Of course I don’t know what I’m talking about!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      I’ve never added anything after dying my items…so maybe that was an old way to do it??
      The pink pants I showed, have been washed at least a half a dozen times and really don’t seem lighter. I do wash them in with the darks, so I suppose there could have been a little bleeding of the color. But I think if you rinse it so that it’s only clear water coming out during the initial process, then you’re good to go!!
      Thanks for stopping by and being interested Melanie!!

      • Melanie

        Thanks, Jodie. That’s great. Probably I would wash with darks too anyway.

  • I love how the jacket came out. This is a great way to bring new life to old items. Thanks for sharing on Friday Frivolity

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Audrey!!!

  • Well that’s clever!
    #TeamLovinLife

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Leanne!!

  • Great idea to die your clothes. Need to try it.

    Thanks for sharing at Over The Moon Party,

    Bev

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks for stopping by Beverly!!

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    I’ve never dyed anything because I’ve been too scared the end result would look uneven. I might give it a try now you’ve shared these tips!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      I totally understand Kirsty! I think one key is to make sure you move the item around to distribute the dye more evenly. One reader said she always does it in her washing machine and has never had a problem. I do think that the first time is the scariest—after that it’s old hat!!

  • I’ve always been curious to see before and after pics of home dye jobs, so thank you for sharing.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks for stopping by Janet!! I am really happy with these items!!

  • Julia Nyanyo

    As a brave teen I was always dyeing my clothes, I’ve not done anything like that for years but your jacket came out looking really good – very even. I’m tempted to try it again sometime.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      How adventurous you were as a teen, Julia!!
      I don’t know if you read it, but one reader said she’s been doing this in her washing machine for 30 years. I know it says you can on the directions, but talk about sounding scary?!! That’s why it’s nice to post these ideas, because I feel like I learn so much from the comments!!

  • I think I tried dying a garment once and it was ok… I have an aunt who once a year dyes all of her blacks, just to keep them dark.
    The furry bolero was dyed to perfection (and you look SO GOOD) – same for the jacket, what a great way to extend a garment’s lifetime.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Your aunt is one smart cookie!!
      Thanks for stopping by Lorena!!

  • Love the sheet drop cloth idea…super smart. I’ve dyed a couple black items to keep them from a washed out look. I love the pink pants! Stopping by from the link-up!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Nili! That’s such a great idea about black items!!

  • Carol Murphy

    I used to work for a lady who bought clearance expensive shoes in odd colors and dyed them black. 90% of her work shoes were dyed.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Wow…that’s such a great idea. I know my mom has taken her shoes to have them dyed, but she’s never tried doing it herself. Do you know the technique?

      • Carol Murphy

        She used a bottle of liquid shoe dye

        • Jodie Filogomo

          That’s really such a great idea!!

  • PetiteOver40

    Thank you so much for posting this, Jodie and for including Laurie’s tip about black washed out items! I would never have tried any of it had you not shown how it’s done. Now I’m thinking about things in my closet I can change!!!

    Hugs,
    Sherry
    http://www.petiteover40.com

    • Jodie Filogomo

      It’s so great when others share their experiences too!! I feel like I learn so much!!
      XOXO

  • This is such a great idea. And what a sweet memento. It’s been a while since I’ve dyed a piece of clothing so I’m a bit rusty!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      But it is easier than it seems, right?

  • Ramcamedd

    I use the hottest water setting on my washer and let it go through the full cycle. It doesn’t stain the inside of the machine.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      How interesting!! So does the dye penetrate better this way? Maybe you don’t get the missed spots like I did on my pink pants?

      • Ramcamedd

        It’s the best way to dye clothing. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years…

        • Jodie Filogomo

          That’s so fabulous to hear….I’m going to try that next time and update the post. Do you have a blog so I can give you a shout out?

          • Ramcamedd

            No, I don’t have a blog. However, I enjoy yours!

  • I would never have thought to do this…such a genius idea! I can’t believe how good it turned out.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      I know when I first heard someone talk about dying their clothes, I thought it’d be way too much work & mess. But I’m happy to report that it’s quite easy!!

  • Judy Gramith

    Very cool project and I think Bethany would appreciate your extra effort to keep her jacket in circulation and among the items you wear often. I’m impressed with your tips and complete instructions. I’ve never dyed anything but you make it sound fun!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      I’m actually surprised you’ve never done this Jude—-with all of your amazing projects that you’ve done, I would have thought this would be right up your alley!!
      I think the reason it ends up being fun, is because it’s like getting a new piece of clothing to play with!!

  • This is a great idea to give your clothes a new lease of life! Gemma x
    http://www.jacquardflower.uk

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Gemma—and it’s not even that hard!!

  • Oh this is a fabulous idea! I have plenty of items that I feel are getting to the end of their life for this reason…but dyeing them could certainly turn that around! I never thought of it before. Thank you for the awesome post! I’ll be coming back to it once I work up the courage to do some dyeing. 🙂

    ~Lindsey
    http://have-clothes-will-travel.com/

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Lindsey!!
      It does take a little courage especially the first time doing this. But whenever I do one of my DIY projects, in the back of my head I always consider the “what if it doesn’t work out.” And I figure, when dying, that the item is going to get tossed otherwise, so no big deal if I ruin it—ha ha!

  • Oh yes! I did that a lot when I was in my teens and did nog have a lot of money to buy new clothes! I loved to do that! That blazer turned out great!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      What a smart cookie you are Nancy!! I never thought to do this until the last 10 years or so!

  • Caitlin

    Such a cool DIY project!

    Caitlin, Beauty & Colour

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Caitlin—it really is one of those that anyone can do!!

  • You did a fantastic job Jodie, looks so professional. Thank you for taking time to explain everything so well. I’ll bookmark this page in case I ever feel ambitious enough to attempt this, but at the moment I don’t have pair of those cute ruffled gloves! 😉

    ❤️carmen

    https://fashionableover50.wordpress.com

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Don’t those gloves make all the difference? Maybe I should figure out how to DIY a pair and share? They are so cute, huh?
      I do have to admit, I put off dying this jacket for probably a year thinking it would be a long process. But since I did it in the kitchen, I just worked on some cooking while it was dying, so I could check on it occasionally. It’s funny because when I finished, I thought to myself, that it really wasn’t that hard!! It’s like working out—I feel like it’s a huge climb to get to the gym, but I feel fabulous afterwards!!! 🙂

  • Great tutorial! I have a few beige pieces I should try this with, because I just do not wear beige. Love the adorable work gloves. 🙂

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Jennie!!
      That’s totally how I felt about our graphic tees that are white—not the best hue for my complexion (or mom’s)—but the blue is fabulous!!

  • Laura

    What a difference! I need to remember this next time I am about to throw something out!

    • Jodie Filogomo

      It is quite amazing, Laura!! And as much as I love shopping for new pieces, it’s probably also somewhat good for the environment, to keep what we have, right?

  • This is amazing. It looks like a totally different garment. What a great way to revive an old piece

    http://www.michellespaige.com/

    • Jodie Filogomo

      It really works well, Michelle!! Especially if the item still fits great!!
      Happy Saturday!!

  • I often buy a black dye to spruce up any black washed out items. It works perfect on denim x
    http://www.vanityandmestyle.com

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Now that’s a fantastic idea Laurie!! Why didn’t I think of that??? I’m going to edit the post to include that little ditty!!

    • Sharon Duerst

      I do that also! Works great when colors are getting too faded! Can also use navy or denim colors to improve jeans!

  • FunkyForty

    Thanks for the tips Jodie. I will definitely revert back to this post next time I want to dye a piece of clothing.
    xx Yvonne
    http://www.funkyforty.com

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks for stopping by Yvonne!! I don’t do this process tons, but it is certainly nice to have it in my back pocket when I need it!!

  • Versatilestylebytracey

    I have wanted to dry dye and it’s on my to do list. this is inspiring.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      I’ve never heard of dry dye, Tracey!!
      You need to do it and blog about it!! 🙂

  • Wow, I never thought of this! What a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing! Have a great weekend.

    • Jodie Filogomo

      Thanks Carrie—it does really change up a piece of clothing!!

  • Pam miller

    Jodie, is this one of Bethany’s jackets? Pam

    • Jodie Filogomo

      It is, Pam!! It’s such a nice fitting jacket that I just couldn’t part with it!! It’s amazing how many of her pieces I still have even after 10 years!!
      Love to you & Tim!!