13 Things I Wish I Knew Before Dying My Wardrobe Black

Black has been popping up in my wardrobe quite often lately, all black outfits have been giving me the feels. Which is quite shocking given the fact that you're dealing with someone who loves bright and fun colors. But, we change. And so, that led me to the not so bright - not even dim, more like dark like the color black - idea of dying some of my clothes black. In my head, it sounded awesome. On the YouTube videos, it looked legit. But once I got started, I should have quit. *drops mic*

But, seriously. This 'all black outfits' project didn't quite turn out how I envisioned. And that's what this story is about, a story of woes so you don't make the same mistakes. Learn from this "dark dark" tale. 
 

THE SWEATER

 An old BCBG sweater I wanted to dye a darker color since some blue jean color transferred to it. The body of the sweater is 100% acrylic and the wool like trim is made of 100% polyester.

An old BCBG sweater I wanted to dye a darker color since some blue jean color transferred to it. The body of the sweater is 100% acrylic and the wool like trim is made of 100% polyester.

1. Know Your Dye
I only went as far to research the necessary type of dye to use in order to dye my clothes black. In this case, synthetic or natural dye. There's different types and brands available out there. Not to mention, knowing which dye works best for the kind of material you will be working with. Some materials such as acrylic and polyester are more of a challenge compared to an easier material like cotton.
 

2. Be Mindful of the Washing Instructions for Your Fabric
I made the mistake of jumping in nearly head first, when I should have paid more attention to which materials would shrink or stretch before submerging them into near boiling hot water for minutes on end. Acrylic is prone to stretching in hot water . . . whoops. 
 

3. Stains Won't Blend In
If theres a stain or a spot on your clothes thats a different color, then that spot will still be there after you're done dyeing. For instance, if you have a bleached out spot on a green hoodie, then that spot will turn out darker than the rest of the hoodie since that area is lighter. The opposite applies to dark spots. So be mindful that there's a possibility that the idea of dying your clothes will neutralize and blend in a stain.
 

THE SUPPLIES

 I purchased the prongs and pot from Walmart (do not use stuff you plan to cook with later) since it was the cheapest, the dye and gloves I got from Amazon. Rit DyeMore does not come in 'Black', 'Graphite' is the closest color you'll get to black. iDye Poly does come in Black. In order to increase my chances of getting a true black, I mixed the two.

I purchased the prongs and pot from Walmart (do not use stuff you plan to cook with later) since it was the cheapest, the dye and gloves I got from Amazon. Rit DyeMore does not come in 'Black', 'Graphite' is the closest color you'll get to black. iDye Poly does come in Black. In order to increase my chances of getting a true black, I mixed the two.

4. Don't Use a Small Pot for the Boiling Method
Get a larger pot instead of settling for a "big enough" pot. The sweater could not move around freely enough for the dye to evenly disperse on the sweater, resulting in a slightly splotchy look. Some areas look darker than others, this is from not having enough space to stretch out in the pot. 

5. Check Your Tools
A pair of prongs that have the plastic coating around the clamps to prevent the sharp lining from getting caught in the fabric while I'm shifting it around in the pot. This also stretched out a the acrylic fabric and left weird indentions in some places. Be mindful of the size pot you're using, if you get a pair of prongs or spoon that it too short and small then you run the risk of being limited in working the fabric around in the pot.

6. Clean Up on Stand-by
Wet wipes on deck to help with any quick clean up of dye splatter. Which comes in handy since once the dye has time to settle and dry, it will be more likely for it to stain the surface.

7. Protect Yourself
Keeping another small towel around to help pull off the rubber gloves. You don't want to get that dye on your hands. Especially if you have a set of acrylic nails on, the dye will temporarily take to the nails and discolor them. After a few washes over time, it comes off. But, still not a pleasant experience if you just got them done or plan to go out somewhere. 

8. Protect Your Clothes
Wear clothes you don't mind getting messed up, although they may not. It's good to have that already available to you just in case something does happen. Also, it helps to be comfortable for a dye job of this capacity because who knows how long you'll be at it. 

 

THE WORKSPACE

 Once I started, I realized I would need reinforcements (A.K.A. more towels and foil) to protect the kitchen from stray dye splatter. Better be safe than annoyed at that one spot you can't clean up!

Once I started, I realized I would need reinforcements (A.K.A. more towels and foil) to protect the kitchen from stray dye splatter. Better be safe than annoyed at that one spot you can't clean up!

 

9. Protect Your Workspace
Used more protection for the area I was working in to prevent any stray permanent synthetic dye from messing up the hardware. Although I didn't have any issues with this, it's a bit sidetracking for you to be worried about your workspace. You wan't to be focused more on the task at hand. If you can, find a workspace that you aren't as heavily invested in or don't have to worry so much about collateral damage.

 

10. Ventilation. Ventilation. Ventilation.
A WELL VENTILATED AREA. Or major fan blowing and circulation going on. The dye isn't the most pleasant smell, it lingered for a few hours after I finished. I will say I first notice the smell when I used the iDye Poly, I don't recall a strong smell coming from the Rit DyeMore. It's possible the Color Intensifier packet that iDye Poly comes with is the culprit of the stench, read more up on dye carrier chemicals here.
 

 

THE DYEING PROCESS

dying clothes black

11. Take Your Time
Slow down, Speedy Gonzalez. A rush job will show with a synthetic dye project, you want to make sure the dye settles in nice and evenly. Don't get too excited with the stirring, you want to reduce the amount of random dye splatter from the pot. And don't get too lazy from standing up 50 minutes to keep an eye on your dark and evil concoction. Expect to stand up over a hot pot longer if you're doing multiple pieces.
  
12. Rinse. Rinse. Rinse. 
Rinse some more. Rinse again just for safe measures. And then, once the water is running clear, free of any dye color bleeding from your garment giving you the sign that you're finally done with rinsing...............rinse again. It's not pleasant to have dye still bleeding on your fingers and your clothes after completed the dye project and get to the point where you're trying it on for an outfit.

13. Have a System in Place
Is your sink next to the stove? What is your next step? What is your flow? It would help to have a tray set up so it's easy transfer from one phase to the next. Makes it easier to keep things moving when you're dying multiple items. It may not be that serious if you're dying one item or working in an area where you can make mistakes, but it helps if you are in such a space. 

 

THE RESULTS

 If you look closely, you can see that the dye came out a tad bit uneven. You have to look hard enough! One part of the sweater (the polyester) took really well to the dye, but body (the acrylic) looks more gray than anything. Supposedly, acid dyes work better on acrylic materials.

If you look closely, you can see that the dye came out a tad bit uneven. You have to look hard enough! One part of the sweater (the polyester) took really well to the dye, but body (the acrylic) looks more gray than anything. Supposedly, acid dyes work better on acrylic materials.

Would I do it again? Yes, but not anytime soon. It was exhausting and didn't yield enough wearable goods from this dye session to get excited about doing it again immediately. I dyed 4 pieces all black, things I didn't mind taking a chance on losing if the project went south. And I wouldn't say it was a total bust! If I do a dye project again, it most likely will be dealing with a less labor intensive method. Even though my all black outfit didn't come to life like Frankenstein's creation, I'm okay with how this experiment went since it was such a learning experience.

Would I recommend doing it? Sort of. It depends on how much time you have, what you're dying, and the return. What I mean by 'return' is that sometimes you're better off just purchasing an all black outfit as opposed to dying your own. Yet, having an all black outfit selection was not my intent, it was to revamp my sweater that was losing interest in. A rekindling of the flame. 

If you end up doing a dye project, tell me about it in the comments. What do you wish you knew? What worked? What didn't? Did you find my tips helpful to your experience? Let me know!


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