Dyeing a Shirt

My husband had a scrub top left over from nursing school that was white.  It’s a pretty awesome top because of the pockets-both their size and positioning.  However, white isn’t a great color for the job of nursing because of how easily it shows dirt.  So this top sat in the back of the closet, only coming out every now and then.  Last time I was at the store, I noticed the Rit dye.  “That,” I said to myself, “is the answer.  This is how we put that top to use.”  I’d never dyed clothes before, so I was excited to try this.  You will need:

  • Clothing item
  • Box of dye
  • Container to dye in
  • Rubber Gloves

I used Rit dye and followed the instructions on the box.  The font is SUPER small, so you might want to check out their website, which also has a tutorial video.

Dyeing a Shirt

Before you dye, get everything together.  You don’t want to have gloves covered in dye water and realize you need something.  Even if you’re using a bathtub, you’ll want to put down a plastic cloth of some sort to be a barrier.  You think you can do this without making a mess, but you’re wrong.  I saw little splatters of dye throughout the process.  I’m not even sure how most of them happened.  (Tip:  have your clean-up materials handy for just this sort of situation.  I had a bleach rag ready to go while I dyed, specifically for those little splatters that might escape my plastic cover.  I used it more than I thought I would.)

The instructions tell you to add to the dye water based on what type of fabric you have.  I had a mostly cotton product, so I added salt to mine.  I had difficulty finding information about what additives to use for mixed fabrics, so I just used the additive meant for the fabric with the highest percentage.  Once the shirt was in the dye bath, I found it helpful to use a bit of wooden dowel to help move it around.  This seemed to cause less overall mess than my gloved hands.

The final product was a bit more grey than black, but I mostly expected that.  I didn’t think I was going to get a true black.  I’m sure it’s possible (maybe through a second trip through dye), but I am happy with my result, so I won’t be bothering with that.  This whole process was messier than I anticipated (which made me wish we had some sort of wash basin where I wouldn’t have cared as much), but it was also more fun than I thought it would be.  I will totally be dying more things in the future!


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