Monday, October 22, 2012

Color remover and over-dyeing

One of my favorite things to do to black fabric, or a dyed fabric that looks gross, is to use Rit color remover and then over dye. I had bought some periwinkle gauzy material and some black broadcloth fabric at the thrift store and wanted to play with them.

I wet all my fabrics first. I scrunched up half of the blue gauze and put rubber bands around it. The other half I did not scrunch and plan to dye another overall color. I scrunched some of the black pieces and accordion folded/rolled some.

In a bucket outside, I put a packet of Rit Color Remover. I boiled two big pots of water on the stove, then poured about 1 1/2 pots of hot water into the bucket. I stir the bucket, then add my fabric. I then put in a second packet of  Rit Color remover that I sprinkled on the fabric, then stirred it into the pot water. The color remover really stinks so it needs to be done outside or a well ventilated room. (Allen says it smells like someone is getting a perm).

At this point, I have two problems.

The gauzy fabric turns off-white almost immediately and I take the non-scrunched one out and put it in the washer. When it is done, I open the washer and it is blue again.  I have had this happen to be before. I think the fabric is polyester or some other non-cotton fabric. 

My next problem is, looking at the picture below, only one of the black pieces, which was a piece of black sheet and not the broadcloth I bought at the thrift store, has any color coming out of it. The thrift store black is not losing any of its color. So again, this must not be cotton. Total bummer.

Since I have a bucket of stinky color remover going, I go and get more of the black sheet material and fold and scrunch, and put in the bucket. I also add some scrunched linen pieces from my attempt at ombre dyeing.  I do add some more color remover at this point as well.  I also make a second bucket and put the pink/red velvet that I tried to Idye poly the other day. (Sometimes color leeches from fabrics in hot water and I did not want to make all the other fabrics pinkish so I did a separate bucket).
I let it sit for about an hour. I make two batches of Procion MX dye, one is Pagoda Red, the other is Lapis. I remove the fabrics from the color remover buckets, do a quick rinse under cool running water, then put the fabrics in the dye batches.

I stuck the gauzy fabrics in the dyes batches as well. I let the fabrics sit overnight and washed them all in the morning. I almost always do some shibori when I have a dye bucket going, so those results are here as well.

On the left, black sheet with color removed and over dyed Pagoda Red. On the right is shibori on white fabric (with some purple dye on it from a previous adventure), the top one was pleated prior to wrapping it to the pole.


All these are black sheet with color removed, one scrunched, one pleated horizontally, one pleated diagonally, then dyed Lapis.

Shibori on white fabric (with some purple dye from previous experiment)

This is the gauze, a blotchy blue on the left and brown

The blue linen had very little color removed. Over dye was Pagoda Red.

The Jade Green had more color removed and was over dyed Lapis. I must have scrunched these too hard as very little dye got to the interior.

Here is the velvet, it was once pink and had some kind of flower or leaf pattern in a darker pink. The pattern is gone. The color is nice but there is a weird greenish spot about 10" in size. I don't know why it's a different color.

I love the blue over dyed fabrics. I have an issue with reds. I have yet to find a red dye that I really like. Most of the fabrics I have dyed red look unappealing. The pagoda red is more like a rust on these fabrics, which is nice, but not quite what I wanted. Does any one know a good red dye to try?


  1. So were you able to change the color of a black polyester material? I have a black poly costume, that I need to turn green .. Is this even possible?

  2. I have only had good luck with this with cotton fabrics. Often, the polyester fabrics look like they are changing, but once they cool down and get rinsed out, they are typically the original color (or close to it). If it is a costume and not precious to you, you could give it a try. Be forewarned that it could be a disaster. Then you will need to dye it using a polyester dye, like Idye. I have a post on it here: I would recommend buying a green costume as these techniques will take some time and may not get you what you want (and could potentially ruin your costume).