Friday, September 2, 2011

Handy Girl Shout Out: Dress Dyeing Diva

Over the summer one of my roommates was in the wedding of two of her good friends from college. She had a great time and absolutely loved all the personal DIY touches that the couple had added to their ceremony and reception. The bride and groom are quite colorful people (in the good sense) and they opted to have the groomsmen wear colorful ties and tan suits while the bridesmaids wore orange dresses. Oh, I should also mention that the bride and groom and a lot of the wedding party/attendees graduated from Virginia Tech, so they have a special place in their heart for orange.

Well, one great party/college reunion and a late night trip to Taco Bell later, Marla had a pretty but very orange dress. Not that she didn’t love it for the wedding. It’s just that if she had been shopping for a cocktail dress this probably wasn’t the color she was picking, and it also probably wasn’t one she was likely to wear again.
My roomie had paid over $100 for the dress—not too much by bridesmaids’ dress standards, but it’s still a lot for a recent MSW grad still looking for a job (are you hiring?). Not wanting to let the dress hang in her closet unused, she explored the idea of having it professionally dyed. When that turned out to be more than she budgeted, she turned to the idea of dyeing it herself. We reasoned that whether she screwed it up by dyeing it or left it in her closet, either way she wouldn’t be wearing it, so she didn’t have much to lose.

She searched the internet trying to find instructions and materials to dye her dress navy blue. I pointed her to Sherry at Young House Love’s wedding dress dyeing tutorial where she could get some pointers. The one thing she kept worrying about was the fact that she would be attempting to dye polyester, a synthetic that doesn't take stain as well as a natural fiber like silk or cotton. 

She ended up buying a kit online from Pro Chemical & Dye and used the instructions for it that they have online, and which also come with the kit in the mail.

Don't worry, you don't use all of these to dye a dress. The kit came with different colors.
At first she was a little worried that the dress would turn more of a brown, but as the blue began to take, the orange became less and less visible. After she finished the dyeing process she hung the dress up to dry in our laundry room with a tarp to catch the water dripping from it.

The result? A perfectly dyed navy blue dress that she can wear to weddings, cocktail parties, and other formal occasions for as long as she can fit into that dress. Which will probably be for a while because she is pretty little.

It looks black in this picture, but it's actually a deep navy blue.

Speaking of size, Roomie does have one warning: because this process requires you to boil your dress for an hour or two, the dress will likely shrink a little. Not too much—it still fits her, but she can tell it’s tighter. So if your dress already fits like a glove, this may not be for you.

A beautiful dress for my beautiful roomie!

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