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~x~x~x~ Dyeing To Try It ~x~x~x~
As a Bzz Agent I quite regularly receive little freebies to trial and talk about, most recently I had a small selection of Dylon fabric dyes. I haven't dyed anything for years so was a little nervous, not least because I'd chosen possibly the most vivid colour imaginable (Tulip Red ) and I couldn't see how I was going to ever do a decent job of it. I actually expected not to use it and pass the dyes on as samples but then I looked at Hollie's tired white dress as it lay on the charity shop pile, at the same time as my oldest daughter walked past with a huge embedded lipstick stain on the back of her vest. I made my mind up, finished the load of washing that was in the machine and prepared to get dyeing.
~x~x~x~ Dyeing Made Easy Peasy ~x~x~x~
Dylon proclaim themselves as being easy to use and capable of leaving you with a superb finish even when used by a complete novice to home dyeing. I have to say I agree (being said novice) and after a quick read through of the instruction leaflet I was feeling confident that this was going to turn out well after all. All you have to do is tip the dye into the drum of your machine, cover it with 500g salt and throw your clothes on top. The instructions are to set your machine to a standard 40 degree cycle, which threw me a little as there are several 40 degree options on my machine and I really wasn't sure which one to use. In the end I settled for a cottons cycle, set at a 40 degree temperature and a standard 1 hour 45 minute length cycle. The dress and vest are both 100% cotton so it seemed the obvious choice, I'm not quite sure what net curtain is made of but know I've washed ours at all sorts of temperatures so thought it would be cool whatever cycle I decided to use.
The water immediately turned a vivid blood-like red (my partner joked I was washing the murder clothes when he saw the colour of the water, and then started fretting about possible staining of the rubber seal around the door - something I hadn't actually considered myself) - a few weak bubbles appear in the water but they soon disappear, the water stays red throughout the vast majority of the cycle and doesn't ever really return to its pure clean state until some point during the second 40 degree wash cycle you have to complete after dyeing. You add washing powder/liquid to this second phase which gives the clothing a good clean and also removes any residue of the dye, I ended up giving it an extra rinse at the end of all this too as I wasn't convinced all the red had dispersed from the water but after that final 20 minute cycle the rinsing water was clear enough for me to remove the freshly dyed clothes and dry them to see the end result. You're advised to dry everything away from direct heat and sunlight, luckily my dyeing experiment ended at 11pm - it was a clear dry night so I popped the three items out on the line to dry off overnight and bought them in the following morning for inspection.
~x~x~x~ Dramatic Dylon ~x~x~x~
I'm super impressed and a little bit gobsmacked at the depth of colour on the dress and vest, the net curtains hardly changed colour at all apart from a developing a vague pink hue and a slightly brighter pink outline to the more decorative part of the curtain. It was ruined really, but my mum told me after the event that net curtains aren't suitable for dying as a rule and can only be artificially whitened with products like this.
The dress for me is the most impressive, it being dyed a bright solid red with absolutely no patchiness or areas that have been missed. The dress features two layers of underskirt which have a different texture to the lacy outer portion of the bodice and skirt, for some reason I wasn't expecting the underskirts to dye as thoroughly as the dress itself so was surprised to find they've ended up exactly the same colour. The only thing that could have been an issue is the fact that the stitching of the hem and the stitches that help to form the ruffle on the bodice haven't been dyed at all and remain pure white, it actually looks good in this instance with the tiny lines of white stitching standing out beautifully against the deep Tulip Red (and it really is a stunning red ) - although remember Hollie is six and can get away with quirky touches like this, I'm sure if you're dyeing your work shirts you wouldn't fancy turning up with cowgirl style contrasting stitches though so keep this in mind when purchasing your dye. Funnily enough the vest wasn't affected in this way and the stitching turned as red as the fabric of the garment, which is actually very red indeed as the soft cotton has soaked up the colour like a sponge.
~x~ x~x~ Colourful Clothing ~x~x~x~
Hollie is absolutely in awe of her 'new' dress, she likes pretty clothes and loved it when it was white but recognised the fact that it was fast beginning to look tatty and knew it wasn't as beautiful as when she first chose it as her birthday outfit. White is rarely a good idea for such a youngster but she was poorly with chicken pox and we were all well aware that she was likely to be worse by the time her birthday came around a couple of days later, we indulged her and she ended up with a virginal dress which I just knew wasn't going to look clean for long. Little did I realise at the time that it would have a new lease of life some four months later and come back as a bright red outfit!
She's worn it almost every day since I dyed it and so the dress has been washed five times up to now, I know this as I've purposefully counted and also know it's having its sixth wash today at my mums house after Hollie visited her while wearing it and ended up staying overnight. The dye ran for the first couple of washes but I'd anticipated this and washed it on its own or with other deep red fabrics, it was easy to spot when the dress was no longer leaking red dye as the bubbles from the washing powder turned white again instead of being edged with pink as happened for the first two or three washes.
Despite the fact the colour runs so badly in subsequent washes I haven't noticed any fading of the fabric through these washes and the dress looks as vibrant as it did when it was first dyed - obviously time will tell how long the 'new' shine lasts for, although the dye seems to be well embedded into the fabric and I suspect Hollie will be wearing her red dress for some time to come.
~x~x~x~ Price And Availability ~x~x~x~
The Tulip Red variation comes in both a machine wash and hand wash version, you can't get them mixed up as the machine dye is boxed whereas the hand wash dye is in a simple sachet. I've had a look around and a full size box of machine dye costs around £5.99, from anywhere that stocks the full range of Dylon products including Robert Dyas and Tesco online.
Having purchased a couple of pairs of cotton cargo trousers off Ebay, that when they arrived were nothing like the colour they were shown as being in the listing photo, lately I have been getting quite into dyeing fabrics.
The trousers I bought were new, so they needed to be pre-washed before they could be dyed as according to the blurb on the dye packet, sometimes new clothes have special finishes on them that can affect the uptake of dye. When hand-dyeing with Dylon fabric dyes you have to start off with clean, wet fabric in any case, so running things through the wash beforehand is a good idea in any case.
I started off with pale brown trousers of a shade that most kindly could be described as 'mousey'. With these dyes, obviously the existing colour of the fabric you're colouring will affect the final results, and as I wanted a dark red colour but was starting with brown, I chose Dylon's very bright 'Tulip Red' to try and get the effect I was after.
This colour is available in various formats: washing-machine dye as well as hand-dye. I got the hand-dye which costs £3 for a sachet sufficient to dye a large, man's cotton shirt. As well as the dye, you need 250g of household / culinary salt to make the dye fix. This isn't included in the packet but salt is still cheap so what the heck.
It seems pretty clear that Dylon dyes in general are quite sensitive, so it's important not to try to dye too much or you end up with a lighter-coloured shade. You're actually advised on the instructions for use that accompany the dye to weigh the fabric (dry) before you start. Having dyed a exactly similar pair of trousers recently, I suspected that as well as ending up with a lighter shade if you tried to dye too much fabric, if you put in too little you could end up with a too-dark result - so I chucked in one of my five year old daughter's school polo-shirts to experimentally tie-dye as well. (She has an excess of these as I bought too many at the start of term).
The dye needs 15 minutes of constant stirring, once the fabric has gone in, followed by 45 minutes steeping. I stinted on the constant stirring as I got bored, and accordingly, the trousers came out a lighter shade than I'd been expecting. Or perhaps the polo shirt had been a wad of fabric too much for the sachet of dye to cope with. The tie-dyeing was a success, despite that!
Having dyed two pairs of trousers with Dylon dyes over the past two weeks, and having gotten one result too dark, and the other too light, I can only conclude that these fabric dyes are as temperamental as heck.
Another thing to be aware of is that what these home dyes won't colour - which I was aware of in this case due to past dyeing attempts - is the stitching on clothes, as the thread they use these days is almost always made of polyester, which can't be dyed using Dylon fabric dye. So if you dye, say, a pair of jeans or cargo trousers a totally different colour, the stitching is always noticeable as it remains the same colour it always was. Sometimes this contrast-stitching effect is something you can 'get away with' - but sometimes I'd say, unfortunately it's not. Of course the zippers and buttons etc. remain the same colour they always were, too.