How to overdye a piece of clothing: tips for success

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Sometimes, we end up owning a piece of clothing that we like the fit of, but we’re not happy with the color. Or, perhaps it’s something that’s hard to match in an outfit. With some inexpensive materials you can overdye fabrics in natural materials (wool, silk, linen, and cotton) to change the look and suit your taste.

A few questions before you start:

Is it really the color that is bothering you about the item, or is it the fit or the feel of the fabric? Overdyeing won’t solve every problem with every garment.

What will you do if the overdye experiment doesn’t turn out the way you planned? With any dye project you have to be a little open to unexpected results.

What color is the item and what complimentary color can you use to overdye it? Choose darker tones in the same color family when overdyeing. For example, you can dye a yellow item orange or red; dye a pink item red or purple; dye a green item with a darker green or a dark blue for a teal color; or choose black and realize that you might get a shade that’s more navy, plum, or olive depending on the tone you’re covering up.

Dyeing tips:

Have heat-resistant rubber gloves and a mask handy on dye day.

Choose items that are made from natural fibers, and make sure you use a compatible dye for the type of fabric you have. Follow all the directions on the dye packet.

If your item is already a medium or dark tone, boil it with some detergent and/or use a dye remover to release some color before overdyeing.

Use glass marbles in a tempered glass jar to help dissolve the dye powder in hot water before adding this to the dye pot.

Have fun with our overdye project and let us know how it turns out!

Published by Sarah Scully

Sarah is a librarian as well as an avid knitter and occasional knitwear designer. She also enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, reading, painting, and writing with fountain pens.