Dye · recycle · Repurpose · Sewing

Overdying adventures

This project started out with a stained white toddler dress.  This dress is a “hand me down” and with the previous stains at hand I decided to overdye the dress.  I had a bottle of Aquamarine liquid Rit dye and I started collecting other items to dye together.


When I dye in the washing machine, I prefer to use 100% cotton fabrics and to collect enough items to dye so that the total weight of the dry fabric equals 2lbs (these are the instructions on the label of the Rit dye bottle).  This “collection” allows me to use the entire bottle of dye at one time and not have to worry about measuring a partial bottle of dye.

Besides the white dress, I overdyed two off-white canvas bags (one pictured above), a test version of the Sew House 7 Mississippi Ave top (I used Simplicity 8231) in muslin fabric (not pictured above), off-white and stained doilies, and an off-white 100% cotton clothesline.  I wrapped the clothesline as I would a hank of yarn (a handspun yarn technique) so that the clothesline would take the dye but not become tangled in the wash.  Click the following link for a reference of how to tie a hank of yarn (or rope in this case).

I have dyed fabrics at home in the past with dye (both via stove top dying and dying with a front loading washing machine).  For a purposeful uneven or “kettle dyed” look, the stovetop was a fun method to use.  My preference for both ease and evenness in color (for overdying) has been to use my front loading washing machine.  Rit dye has the following instructions that I referenced for dying via a front loading washing machine.


I was happy with the end results!  I found it quite interesting to see how the dye took differently to each item.  I will say that the dye didn’t take 100% evenly on all of the fabrics (there were a few dye splotches here and there on the dress and the canvas bags).  A previous round of dying that I did with a Fuchsia hue had more successful results regarding evenness of the dye adhering to the fabric.  I believe this is because I previously added the dye to the drum of the front loading washing machine before starting the dying process.  During this round of dying (with the Aquamarine hue), I added the dye with hot water via the detergent dispenser (so I believe the dye dripped into the drum and had more uneven results in the end).


I have plans for the clothesline, I will be sewing it into trivets for our dining room table.  I thought white trivets would be more prone to staining. To sew the trivets on the sewing machine, I will be referencing the Stitched Rope Basket class from Creativebug but instead of making baskets, I will keep the rope flat.

If you are looking for other ideas for items that you could “thrown in” to the washing machine (to get a dry fabric weight of 2 lbs), I have also dyed 1″ wide elastic , 2″ wide elastic and scraps of muslin fabric.  I will say that the elastic that I have dyed is polyester based (not 100% cotton).  Just keep in mind if you use different fabric bases, it will take the dye differently.  Waist elastic is fun to dye for an exposed elastic skirt project (to coordinate the elastic with your fabric).  I have been wanting to dye up some waist elastic to make an exposed elastic waist tulle skirt for myself.

Let me know if you’ve had any fun overdying adventures.  I’d love to hear what materials you have overdyed!

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