Thursday, May 17, 2012

I dyed.

I've actually been dyeing for a while now (har-har).

It started with my towels. They were once upon a time white. Then they became yellowy-orange in the middle where they hung on the towel bar. Strange and ugly. (I promise it wasn't from use. Some handtowels did the same thing, but are obviously not used the same way. Just to clarify. And they all get washed regularly. So no speculating about bad hygiene, ok?) Aaanyway, I figured for the first attempt in my life at dyeing anything, it couldn't get much worse than the white/yellow/orange dinge that it already was. And I think I was right, even though it took a few tries and several packages/bottles of dye.

Sorry, I didn't take any dingy before pics.

If you go to the Rit Dye website, they have a color guide, which tells you how much of which colors to mix to get the EXACT color that you want. I wanted gray. Specifically Neutral 2 #317. For that I was supposed to mix 1 tsp Tan + 1/8 tsp dark green + 1 c. water.

Problem was, I was dyeing towels. Thick, hotel-size towels. Two bath towels, two washcloths, and 1 bathmat. That meant I would have needed a TOOOOOON of dye. Especially because I think tan only comes in liquid form, which isn't as concentrated as the powder. And you can't use 1 tsp tan liquid and 1/8 tsp dk green powder.

Those measurements are for small cotton items, like a plain t-shirt, so I needed to multiply the whole thing by 8 or more. That = too much money.

All these things I think I figured out through the "error" part of trial and error. So I ended up w/ dark green towels. Think hunter green or forest green. :(

Then I bought a few boxes of Rit Color Remover and got light green towels.
Round 1:

Round 2:

That was about as good as I cared to get it. I gave up on removing all the color. I also gave up on mixing colors to get the exact shade of gray I wanted. So I just bought black. I figured a box of black powder would get toned down enough with so many towels to come out some form of gray.

And it did! Oh happy day! They were charcoal gray and they were lovely.

Then I washed them... and the color faded. :(   Unevenly. :(   So I test-washed them again and they faded even more. Unevenly again. At that point they were looking not-so-hot. Time to buy yet ANOTHER thing of dye. (I'm pretty sure I've been keeping that company alive by throwing money at them every few weeks.) This time I googled "dye setting". Cross your fingers with me that two rounds of 1 c. vinegar + 1/2 c. salt + detergent will result in no dye-loss! And here they are now.

Aren't they beautiful!?! I'm so excited. Next step: paint bathroom a complimentary light gray. (But that won't be happening for a loooooong time.)

I had so many questions while doing this, and Rit just doesn't have enough answers on their website. So I made a lot of mistakes along the way. But in the end, I think they came out well.
Ph-ew! (Let's hope this is the end anyway. At least for the towels. I've also been working on my sheets and pillow cases, with similar success rate - i.e. lots of mistakes. But they're not done yet, so that post will have to wait. And my wallet needs a break from buying dye and color remover.)

p.s. Some other tricky things about dyeing:

If you want to do it in your washing machine and you have a new energy-efficient washer (the kind that doesn't have a center spoke/arm), dyeing is a lot trickier. Dyeing is best done by filling up your washer with hot water first, then adding the dye, then mixing it (either by washer agitation or by stirring it manually somehow), and then adding the items to be dyed. Unfortunately, the new washers won't fill up enough if nothing's in them. So you have to add your items, let it fill up with water, pause it, remove & ring out the items, set the sopping wet items aside somewhere, add the dye, mix, and put the items back in the water.

Then, if your washer is like mine, it will only stay paused for less than 15 minutes. Somewhere around 13-14 minutes, it'll drain all the water. But it's best if the items can sit in the dyed water for 30, or as long as possible. And with all the hoops you have to jump through just to add the dye, you've waisted about 5 of those precious 12 paused minutes. (All of this was discovered through my multiple attempts at dyeing these towels. :/  ) SOO, what worked best was to pause it to do the whole adding dye steps, start it again for 30 seconds or so, then pause it again and set the kitchen timer for 12 minutes. Then when the timer goes off, start it again and let it run like normal.

I checked it a few times after that so that when it got to the rinse part of the cycle, I could add my "setting" mixture to the cold water rinse, being careful not to pour it on the towels themselves, since the detergent seems to remove color wherever it's directly poured onto them.


Daniel and Elise said...

I'm so glad you walked us through that! I've been wanting to dye stuff for a long time now but have been too chicken to ever attempt it! But after all your advice, I think I might try it! I'm pretty sure it will become a new addiction ;) Thanks!

Sterling and Michelle said...

You're so creative. I would never even think to dye my towels even though they could really use it. Could you please come dye my towels for me?

Patti said...

I tried to dye some curtains black (so Sam would sleep in) and they're plum colored. That was a long time ago...but we still use them. :) Maybe I'll have to give it another go with your advice.