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The Mighty Boosh
8,425 Posts
Others will be able to give you chapter and verse on this, but one thing to watch out for is the thread.

Most 1/6th fabric can be dyed, but most of the threads holding it together is synthetic and can't be dyed, so you end up with prominent stitching.

That's why a lot of people use thinned acrylic paint instead of dyes.

Proactive Procrastinator
1,330 Posts
As action Man stated there are some risks in dying. The risks increase as the change in color becomes more drastic. Most threads will not dye (as stated above), so you have to keep that in mind.

You can often just start a dye bath and go, but I am a bit anal retentive and suggest bleeching or using RIT color remover first. The lighter the starting color the easier it is to control the end result. Predicting the results of either bleech or the Color Remove is very hard. I have bleeched a dark grey item (WWII Russian Tanker Vasily's coveralls) and they turned out a salmon colour (ala Backstreet boys jump suit). It's very unpredictable. I have some items that have been treated and neither work - at all. In the above coveralls example, I end up using the Color Remover after the bleech bath and was able to get a very dull off white, (yet with dark threads). Do not mix bleech and Color Remover!!! Causes very noxious fumes.

My experience is exclusive to RIT dyes. I have used both the powder and the liquid and personally don't have a preference, but most guys I have asked prefer the powdered form.

Things you will need to get started:
-1: A pot that you will use for dye baths only. Don't use one that you want to use for cooking. I know it seems to be common sense, but some folks out there amaze even me.

-2: Something to do your rinse in. I use old Taco Bell plastic drink cups, old plastic milk containers with the top cut off (but not the handle). That handle makes it easy to place the rinse container next to your dye bath pot and then carry the item to the sink.

-3: Bleech and/or Rit dye remover. Like I said above the lighter the starting color, the better the control of the dye bath. BUT do not use both at the same time. It seems that they will cause a noxious fume reaction if mixed and will most likely cause damage to your fabric. So if one does not work, before you try the other be sure to rinse thoroughly before starting the other option. Once you are happy with the results or even if you're noty an plan on moving on to the dye phase, rinse thoroughly. You don't have to dry, but rinse thoroughly!!!

-4: A well ventilated area. The color remover has a nasty oder. Even with the dye baths, I use my kitchens stove fan.

-5: Paper towels. These are great for cleaning up (which with any spillage do immidiately to avoid dying your kitchen). Also allowing the items to dry off after your rinse bath on a few paper towels helps remove any unwanted excess dye that may bleed onto plastic and other fabrics.

-6: Wood skewers: I use these to mix my dye baths as well as to handle the dyed items. A pair of kitchen tongs slated for dye use only, can be another alternative.

-7: Laundry detergent: I use just a drop in my dye bath. Fomr my experience, this helps remove excess dye during your rinse. It will also cause the dye bath to foam a bit while under heat, so keep that in mind.

-8: MEasuring devices. But a cheap set of kitchen measuring spoons and measuring cups that you use only for your dye baths. If you want to mix a specific color, the RIT website has some recipies. They are for large baths, but they over a ratio that once figured out you can replicate in smaller (and larger) baths. Also if you want to replicate your results at a later time you'll need you ratios of dyes and water.

-9: A small pad and pencil. Take notes and keep track of your recipies. Why do the same trial and error work twice!

-10: Small sealable jars. If you get a sucessful dye bath, you can save it for later in a sealalbe jar. There will be some evaporation, but the needed water will be minimal depending on the amount of time the bath was over heat.

-11: A flat space for drying. The exess dye will bleed through (hence the paper towels, but if the items are still quite wet, it may effect a counter surface, so a cheap cutting block for dying purposes that you can lay the paper towels and items on, is an extra piece of insurance to keep your significant other from becoming angry at your accidental "redecorating".

-12: Zip lock bags. If you use the poweder form and do not use all the powder, you'll need these to store your dye powder. I also keep the pachaging in there so I know what the color is and have the instruction handy for future reference. The liquid containers are self contained, but be sure to shake well before use!

Follow the directions on the dye product, They are actually pretty good, RIT has recepies at their website, so you can check that out (and bookmark it) and it's useful. But you will have to do some conversions to get the color ratios for your size dye bath. Be sure to add that drop of laundry detergent - it will help your rinsing. Do NOT use dish detergent as it will foam all over the place when under heat.

The darker the end result you want, the longer the bath necessary. Remember, though, that the item, while wet, will look darker than you want. It's hard to tell exactly how much lighter it will look when dry. That's all color and fabric type dependant so there's no formula for that. That's where that note book comes in handy.

The rinse is very important. I recommend placing hot water (tap) in your rinse container before the item is ready to be removed from your dye bath. That way you can carry it over to your dye bath, place the item in it, with minimial dripping and then carry it to the sink. I allow more hot water to flow in the container and allow for overflow. Over several minutes allow the water to become cooler until it is eventually cold. The hot water is used to remove excess dye and the cold water is used to help set the color into the fabric. I know its a waste of water, but there's no way around it for removing excess color. Eventually the rinse bath should have less dye color in it.

You can take the item out and rub it against a paper towel and see how much dye (if any) is left on the paper towel. If you feel your initial rinse was not as sucessful as you thought, you can always repeat the process. What I do, once I am satisfied with my rinse, is to empty my rinse container and fill it with fresh cold water and allow the item to sit overnight. In the morning you will notice some color in the rinse. I then place the items on several layers of paper towels on my flat sruface with one or two layers on top. I check this when I get home and may rotate the items and allow to dry further. You will notice that some dye has been absorbed by the paper towels. Once the item is dry, again rub it against your skin and/or a paper towel or scratch piece of fabric. If no color transfer occurs, you're good to go. If some does, you may want to repeat the complete rinse process.

Take your time, don't be in a rush!!! This is especially true for the rinse process. Once you tranfer color onto your figure and/or other garments, all hell breaks loose that is very difficult to undo. Especially on plastic. So take your time!!! Rinse thoroughly, use the fabric detergent in your dye bath - it helps!!!

Those are my best tips. I hope they help. Try to not let yourself get frustrated, several of the steps are trial and error. You often do not know how the color that you see was applied to the fabric. That fabric may have been another color and then dyed. That's why I feel the bleech/Color Remover step is essential. It increases the overall time by quite a bit, but I feel helps get better end results with fewer unwanted results.

And as always, let us learn from your experience. Take before and after pics and post them. If you run into anything weird, let us know about that too. As you have a better starting point from my and others who post here experience, let others gain the experience from you too.

What should I bash today?
4,267 Posts
Davinator65 said:
What are you trying to dye? If it's cotton, then it should dye pretty well, if it's a synthetic material, good luck! I tried dying some synthetic materials, it doesn't work.
Yep... I've tried on DML SDU & GSG9 'Ulrich's coverall... Both can't work... But I've tried it on Armoury Russian Para 'Floral' pattern & BBI MVD 'Kretchet' uniform too and I like the outcome... I've used DYLON 'Hot' dye, it's easy and works even with 'careless' dyeing... ie. just sprinkle a dose of dye & a pinch of salt into hot water and soak the whole uniform in... See if u like the effects shown on the right... :thumb

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