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Adventures in Dying Fabric- Dying a Jacket

October 2, 2014



Sorry about not updating everyone on my current creative projects. I’ve been busy lately with my day job and the weather here in Arizona was… well… crazy with flooding and such. Fortunately I didn’t have flooding trouble, but it did cause me to be stuck at home, unable to leave the house. Since I had a lot of time, I just worked and worked and didn’t take the time to write posts about what I was working on. I was very productive, but still. I felt bad about ignoring my blog. Ugh.

Anyway, on with the post…

About a year ago I began to look into dying fabrics. I didn’t have a main reason to want to dye fabric, but it was just something I was curious about and never had the desire to actually do. What finally pushed me to learn how to dye fabrics is because I wanted to dress as Rose Tyler and other Doctor Who characters, but the clothes and fabric I’d find at the store was the wrong color.

There was so much to learn, especially since I never dyed fabric in my life and some of the fabric I wanted to dye was 100% polyester or nylon. I also didn’t have anyone within a 10 mile radius to help me, mentor me, or just be the person that double checks my dye recipes. I did have a lot of quilt shows that talked about dying fabric and aired on TV when I couldn’t sleep. (The shows are great to watch and make me sleepy) After months of on-and-off research, I figured I knew enough information to at least try to dye fabric.

This is post one of two (Maybe three) to document my adventures in dying fabric.

My first dye project was to dye a jacket the color of the jacket used for Rose Tyler’s Impossible Planet. I fortunately found a jacket that would pass as the jacket from the episode that was white and made from cotton. I found the jacket on amazon. It looked like this…

043a

Although I bought the jacket to dye, I loved the jacket so much it took me two months to talk myself into dying it the raspberry color.

Well, I finally dyed it the color recommended by the Bad Wolf Closet/Rose Tyler Costuming and Collecting, which is Rit color 523. In the quilt shows I watched that talked about dying fabric they recommended using a test strip of fabric to see if it’s the right color. I used their recommendation and used of white casa satin I had left over as my test strip. This turned out to be a really good idea, but I’ll talk about that later.

So, I dyed the jacket and since I created the dye bath for cotton fabrics, it took the color extremely well. The zippers? Not so much…

001a

Sorry for the “hanging on the clothes line” photos. I’m fairly amazed I took close-ups of the sleeve zipper prior to dying the jacket. Really shows what part took the dye and what didn’t!

Anyway, not only did the dye not take to the zipper, it didn’t take to the thread as well. I does have a pink hue, but it’s awfully light compared to the rest of the jacket. I didn’t know why this happened because the zipper and thread felt like cotton. I couldn’t figure it out until I looked at my test swatch…

002a

As you can see, it’s the same color as the zippers. My test swatch was casa satin so I looked up on Joann’s website to see what it was made out of. It said “100% polyester”. Now that I figured out what type of fabric my non-dyed parts of my jacket are made with, I began to do research on how to dye polyester. In my research, I learned that the fabric must be boiled in order for it to take the dye. This is a problem because the jacket is machine washable in color water due to the spandex in it (The jacket can stretch) and it won’t take well to high heat.

Now I’m pretty much stuck when it comes to dying my jacket’s zippers the right color. (Unless I take them off, dye them, then re-sew them on…. but the whole reason why I bought a jacket in the first place is to not make a jacket and all I’d end up doing is taking the jacket apart.) After some thought, I decided not to change the color of the zippers. I like how the light colored zippers look beside the raspberry jacket fabric and it matches the stitching on the jacket. In short, I took a “It’s my jacket and I’ll make it look the way I want it to.” attitude with this jacket.

After giving it a after dying wash, the jacket looks like this…

rosedyejacket1

Now that I’ve successfully dyed my jacket, I have two more fabric dying projects to do. Both dying projects are for another Rose Tyler costume, The Idiot’s Lantern dress, and one will require boiling the fabric. Yuck. I already have the stuff I need to boil the fabric, but I’m not fond of dumping fabric into a pot of boiling dye bath.

I will say that after accomplishing my first dye project I’m glad I did so much research on dying prior to actually dying. Had I not known cotton and natural fabrics takes dye differently than other fabrics, I would probably panic once I saw the color of the zippers. It also wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I did have to do some prep work and buy supplies, but once I put the jacket in the dye bath, it went pretty fast! I’m glad I dyed natural fabric before I jumped into something more elaborate like 100% polyester.

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  1. I have a question-do you know anything about dying polyurethane? I have a black polyurethane jacket and I want to dye it to match Rose’s Oasis jacket from series four.

    1. I’ve looked into dying polyurethane, but I never tried it. I found a video on youtube of someone talking about dying polyurethane that I found helpful, but it’s not a tutorial. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li2-S3EUa3s

      I think if you dye polyurethane, the original color of the polyurethane should be light or pale enough to take the dye and change to the dye color without becoming an unintended color. (Example: Dying a blue jacket red could cause it to turn purple) I also think it should sit in the dye bath longer than what is suggested on the bottle. Polyurethane isn’t like cotton or any other natural fiber fabric. Because of this it might take it a while to soak up the dye compared to natural fiber fabrics. I don’t think you can use dye remover on polyurethane because, based off my experience working with and washing polyurethane jackets, it doesn’t like heat due to polyurethane being a plastic based fabric. It will melt if it gets hot enough. The dye remover bath needs to be hot, sometimes boiling hot, in order to work properly. Too hot for the polyurethane. For this reason, I suggest the dye bath used should be a “cold” dye bath, meaning the dye bath isn’t hot or boiling and the item being dyed is not exposed to heat. Just let it soak in the a dye bath in a bucket (preferably plastic, cheep, and disposable) for as long as you want to. The longer the item is in the dye bath is in the bucket, the darker the color. This goes the same with all fabrics being dyed.

      After dying the jacket or anything polyurethane, wash it the way the care instructions on the jacket says to. If it’s not dark enough for your liking, put it back into the dye bath and let it soak for a while more.

      I hope this helps! Like I said before, I never tired to dye polyurethane before but looked into it and all the information I have about dying it is from the research I did.