Tutorial: Dyeing unusual things

DD#2 with lavender petticoat

DD#2 with lavender petticoat

It always surprises me a bit when I realize how many things can actually be dyed. I am certainly no expert at dyeing. I’ve only done it a handful of times, probably because it is not my favorite thing to do. When I first learned to dye fabric, it was drilled into me that you can only dye natural fibers: cotton, linen, rayon, silk, wool. So, it never occurred to me that you could dye nylon until, in 2007, DD#2 wanted to dye her wedding petticoat. If you’ve been to a wedding in the last five or ten years, then you might know that colored petticoats or crinolines are very trendy. A simple Google search gave us the instructions we needed. DD#2’s wedding colors were lavender and yellow, so we bought some purple Rit dye, and it was done in a couple hours.
DD#1 with lavender petticoat and book page shoes

DD#1 with lavender petticoat and book page shoes

I was rather relieved when DD#1 got married last year and, since lavender and burgundy were her wedding colors, she decided to wear the same petticoat. I thought I would never have to dye another one.

That is, until this month. Our dear friends have a daughter getting married at the end of this month, and she wanted a blue petticoat, so they came to me. I gave them all the usual warnings: I am not an experienced dyer, I might ruin it, it might come out streaky, but they still wanted me to try. I agreed to try. After all, she did want blue…and you know how I am with blue things…

petticoat-1Today was the day. I reviewed several online tutorials this morning. Then I remembered how simple it really was — what was I so worried about?

Here’s my simple tutorial, just in case someone recruits you to dye their petticoat.

  • Buy Rit dye. I used the liquid form, but you can also use the powdered Rit dye. Just make sure you dissolve it completely so your petticoat doesn’t end up sprinkled with little “surprises.”
  • Fill your washer with the hottest water you can get. I filled it to the highest level so there was plenty of room for the petticoat to move around.
  • Submerge the petticoat so it is completely wet. Take it out and temporarily put it in a plastic container.
  • Put on rubber gloves unless you like blue hands. Add the Rit dye to the water in the washer. The instructions on the bottle said to add 1 cup of vinegar if you are dyeing nylon. I only had apple cider vinegar, but I used it anyway. Make sure the dye is completely mixed in.
  • Put the petticoat in the washer. You can push it down with your hands, but I used a long wooden dowel. Sometimes pockets of air get caught between the multiple layers, so I used the dowel to move the petticoat around until the air could escape.
  • I set my washer for a gentle cycle so the petticoat wouldn’t get beaten to death. Every five or ten minutes, I pulled it out and untwisted it. I wanted to make sure that it dyed evenly.
  • Keep the petticoat in the dye bath for about 30 minutes, or until it is the shade you want. You will probably have to reset your washer a couple times because that is longer than a typical wash cycle, especially on gentle.
  • I rinsed the petticoat twice and then hung it up to dry.
  • Be sure to clean your washer afterwards. I ran an empty load with detergent, bleach, and hot water, along with an extra rinse.

petticoat-6Yeah! It worked! I hope she likes how it turned out.

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