Old Printed Wardrobe Favorites Look Wow-worthy After Dyeing
Dyed Notations blazer, Loft top, Oliveo linen pants, Longchamp bag, DIY statement necklace, Anne Klein nude pumps and statement belt (all own)

This post is in response to the requests of several readers for a tutorial on how to dye printed clothes. A floral blazer serves as an example for illustration of the process and concept including a free infographic on dyeing cotton prints. Updated 12/20/2020.

Contents
  1. White Clothes Are the Easiest to Dye
  2. Use a Stainless Steel Pot
  3. How to Decide on What Color to Use?
  4. Stir Regularly for Equal Color Uptake
  5. Set the Color with Vinegar
  6. Care Instructions for DIY Dyed Garments
  7. Styling the Dyed Blazer

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

White Clothes Are the Easiest to Dye

When you are a regular reader you know that I dyed a lot of sweaters and cardigans last winter. It was one of those years, when I could not find a sweater or cardigan in a color that worked for me. You know there are these years where all pieces have colors that are not flattering on you. In those years, I often buy an item in white already with the intend to dye it. Thanks goodness, in craft stores, the dyes are independent of what Pantome dictates as the colors of the year. Thus, I can get a new item in one of my fashion or neutral colors by DIY dyeing.

How To Dye a Printed Blazer?

Here I share how I dyed my floral summer blazer. I wanted to change to a deep, darker color. First I checked the percentage of natural material as any synthetics are hard to dye in a predictable way (see linen of the blazer later in this post).

Floral blazer prior to dyeing
Notations floral blazer before dyeing with L.K. Bennett wedge patent leather pumps, Oliveo striped leather skirt, Esprit bag, Hermes collier de chien cuff, August Silk top (all own)

How to Decide on What Color to Use?

Decide on what you want to achieve colorwise. In other words, you have to consider how the existing colors will look like when dyed with that color (see the infographic for a broad idea of color mixing on prints with different dyes.

 

infographic showing approximate result of print color after dyeing

My idea was to go for a more muted and darker version than it was before. Note that when you want to go lighter you will first have to remove the old color. I was thinking about navy blue which would have let to a blue background with purple, brown, green and hunter green pattern. This color combination would have just gone with the denim or black pieces in my closet. Thus, I decided for burgundy, which I hoped would lead to some dark burned orange, purple, black, and dark brown pattern on a burgundy background.

large pot with Rit dye
Large pot with Rit dye

Use a Stainless Steel Pot

You need a stainless steel pot as plastic, wood, and enamel take up color. I put one package of burgundy dye into a huge 1.5 gallon size pot on the stove (Photo above). I can’t tell which brand is the best as I never used anything other than Rite as that is the only dye you can get in Fairbanks. I filled the pot 2/3 with water and dissolved the dye by stirring (Photo below).

burgundy dying solution in steel pot
Dye solution

Since any chemical reaction increase with temperature, I heated the solution to the highest temperature at which one can wash the blazer. Then I put the blazer into the solution (Photo below).

putting a floral blazer into the dying solution
The floral blazer that is to be dyed burgundy is put into the dye

Stir Regularly for Equal Color Uptake

The package gives a time how long to keep the fabric in the dye. It is important to turn the fabric around once in a while to obtain an even uptake of the color. I always try to keep the temperature constant. I had the blazer in the color bath for nearly two hours. The photo below shows the color uptake after 10 minutes.

printed cotton jacket after 10 min in the dye
Blazer after being in the dye for 10 minutes. At this time, the background that was white, has turned pink. The print has taken up some color as well, but most original colors are still recognizable

Set the Color with Vinegar

Once I was happy with the color uptake, I rinsed the blazer until the water ran clear. Then I set the dye with half a liter of vinegar. When dyeing cotton, set the color with vinegar. #DIY #dyeing Click To Tweet

The photo below shows how the water-vinegar mix turns pink again.

#DIY dyed blazer in acid to set color
Dyed blazer in acid solution to set the color. I used white vinegar that I bought at Sam’s Club. Note that I also use this vinegar for pickling and cleaning.

 

After 30 minutes in the acid, I rinsed the garment again until the water became clear. I hung the piece in the garage as I don’t mind when the concrete takes up some color.

Note that the dye also dyes enamel and plastic. Do I have to say that it also colors your skin? Thus, only use stainless steal items in the coloring process and avoid to get into contact with the dye.

#DIY drip drying the dyed blazer
Drip drying the dyed blazer. The formerly white polyester lining turned pink in the dying process. Make sure that you cover the floor so you won’t get discoloring. A plastic trash bag covered with old newspapers or kitchen paper towels to take up the drip water works well.

Care Instructions for DIY Dyed Garments

As with all dark or dyed clothes, there may be some color rub off. Think of a dark new pair of jeans. Thus, do not hang the dyed item aside of something light. The same applies for wearing until you are 100% sure that there is no color rub up anymore.

When washing the dyed item, wash it separately. Add vinegar to the soap-water mix to set the color.

Styling the Dyed Blazer

The photos below feature how the jacket looked like after the coloring. Its vibe changed from girly, fun casual to posh. The burgundy dimmed the contrast of the colors in the print down.

This dimming causes the stark difference in the look.

floral dress with dyed floral blazer

influencer in posh dyed blazer with floral dress

#maturefashion Floral dress and dyed blazer
Outfit details: Notation blazer (colored), Karina Dresses floral print dress, L.K. Bennett open-toe snake patterned pumps, Hermes collier de chien bangle,  Hermes enamel bangles, Seiko watch, vintage bangle and Jaeger tote (all own)

 

I styled the dyed blazer with my floral print Karina dress. You have seen this dress styled for weekend. What a difference a blazer makes! You remember having seen the dyed blazer already? You are right, I wore the dyed blazer with linen pants before.

When you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends.

See these great instructions on how to dye old clothes. #DIY #upcycling Click To Tweet

Thank you.

Do you update your clothes with color, alterations, exchange of buttons etc.? What are you tricks to keep old beloved items current? Let me know, I am curious.

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Photos: G. Kramm, N. Mölders

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