How to Dye your Light Colored Clothing

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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!

DIY-How to Dye your own clothing.

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!

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!


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!


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!


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.

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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.

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