My First Fabric Dye Experience

I want to start by saying if you have never dyed fabric before, start small. Things like scarves or onesies or socks would be perfect. A slipcover for an oversized chair? Not such a good idea for the first-timer. Now, on with the story.

I scored this IKEA chair at a thrift shop for $50. YEA!

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

Nothing fancy but cheap, and since the whole thing was slipcovered I thought I could do something cool with fabric dye. I’d never dyed anything before but how hard could it be, right? (See where this is going, friends?)

When I got it home I decided I would dye it dark brown and then sew some colorful or patterned covers for the removable cushions. Here’s the disastrous result.

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture but it’s almost purple. Or maroon. Definitely not brown. And see the big stain on the bottom? I knew it was there but thought I washed it out before I dyed it. I was wrong.

So I checked out ritdye.com and found out there’s this stuff called color-remover. Unfortunately, most of the reviews said it only worked using the stove-top method. Which means fitting the whole slipcover in a pot, on top of my stove. Not gonna happen.

Since I had nothing to lose at this point I decided I would use hot, hot water in my bathtub instead of boiling water on my stove-top. This is how it looked after the color-remover. Insert panic here.

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

Thankfully some more online research revealed that this brown-yellow tint was normal after using the color remover. Phew! So now all I had to to was find the perfect color so I could salvage this project.

After literally days of researching and agonizing and driving my family insane, I decided to go with a tealish-bluey-greenlike color. I created my own custom mix using 75% teal and 25% royal blue. (ritdye.com has a great Color Formula Guide if you’re trying to mix colors. I didn’t use any of their formulas but they did help me make my decision.)

After what seemed like forever in the washer, I opened the door to find a very, very green slip cover. It was 1:00 in the morning and I was pissed so I layed everything out to dry and went to bed. When I woke up I found the most perfect tealish-bluey-greenlike colored slipcover I had ever seen. Apparently my middle-of-the-night dye madness made me forget wet fabric is not necessarily the same color as dry fabric.

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

The ugly stain is still there but I’m working on a creative solution to that. Also, the pattern on the back cushion is a couple fabric bands I made to dress up some throw pillows. I put them on to see how they looked and decided to keep them there. Poor naked pillows.

Here are some trial & error tips:
1. Start small! (See the first sentence of this post.)
2. Resist the temptation to put your newly dyed slipcover in the dryer. I know you’re in a hurry to see the finished product but shrinkage is BAD.
3. Do your research. Check blogs, google, ritdye.com – anywhere you can find information.

This was a challenging project but I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. Do you have a project you thought would kill you before you finished it? Please share. Misery loves company!

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