Jeans to Dye For

Sorry… I couldn’t help myself.  Anyway, I’ve finally gotten around to dying this pair of jeans, and I figured I’d share the process and results, along with some tips.

The jeans started out light grey fading to darker grey along the sides.  I bought them at TJ Maxx a couple years ago, wore them once, and realized the color wasn’t flattering.  But I liked the fit, so I decided to dye them.  I didn’t want black or blue, because I what fun is that?  I figured the perfect color would come along, and this fall, it did!  I decided to go with a cranberry-like color after seeing a few beautifully styled pairs (like these here, here, here, and here).  I figured the deep color would be flattering, and cranberry would be fun, different, and relatively easy to mix into my existing wardrobe.

The results from my first attempt weren’t what I wanted.  I’d settled on a lighter colored dye (that’s all the store had), but I got a bottle of brown dye for another project and figured I could add a little bit of that in and it’d be good.  I filled the tub with way more water than I needed and I had “ZOMG so excited about pretties” ADD, so they only soaked about 40 minutes.  They came out a pink that was better suited for my 8-year-old nieces than my 29-year-old self.  The only good thing about this is that it kind of gives you an idea of what they looked like before I dyed them, because I totally forgot to take a “before” pic.  Oops.  These are pretty close to my original ones, though mine were lighter grey.

Monday night I finally found the wine dye I wanted, so last night I dyed!  I used less water and a little bit of brown dye again.  Then, I let them soak for way longer than before (about an hour and a half).  Here are some shots from the process.

That is the “after but before”, showing the light pink color that just didn’t work for me.  It was a little brighter and… unfortunately teenybopper in person.

Above is both shades of Rit Liquid Dye I used (though I only but in a few ounces of brown with the whole bottle of wine).  I used a large tub, which I placed in our extra shower (which has the one of those detachable shower heads).  This prevents mess on multiple levels and works out nicely for when I dye in the winter (in nicer weather I just do this outside).

That’s a rather boring shot of my jeans just soaking in the dye, and a really blown out shot of how I stir them.  Yes, I use BBQ tongs–cheap ones–to move them around while they’re in the dye.  Rubber gloves didn’t really work for me the first time I dyed something, so tongs it is.

Here I am, rinsing until the water runs clear.  It’s a long, tiring process that takes about 30 minutes with really heavy soaking wet jeans.  I do it really slow to make sure the dye doesn’t stain our shower, and about halfway through I nix the tongs and just use my hands.  This is much easier (and quicker) when I dye outside, because I don’t have to worry about making a splashy, staining mess.

And here’s the results!  That top shot just shows why it’s important to wash anything you dye by itself a couple times before throwing them in with other clothes.  I always add on an extra rinse as well.  It also shows why it’s important to either bleach your machine when you’re done, or make sure you only do darks for a couple cycles.  Our machine wasn’t stained or anything, but I certainly wouldn’t trust a load of lights in there!  They look a bit richer in person than in the pics, which look really pinky still.  I think if I were to do it again I’d add a little more brown the second time for a deeper shade.

Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll get pics of them on when I wear them next, but they turned out just about how I wanted them, so I’m pretty happy!  I just didn’t have time to put them on and snap pics, and hadn’t planned to wear them today.

Time and money invested?  Time-wise, not including the washing and drying (or the first dye job), it took me about 2 hours to get these puppies dyed.  On the money side of things the dye was about $15, including the first bottle of dye and the brown (though I only used some of it), and the jeans themselves were probably around $15 at TJ Maxx a couple years ago, which means these cost me a total of about $30.  Not too bad, especially considering I dyed them twice!

Looking To Dye?  Go for it!  It’s a great way to give an old wardrobe piece (or a thrifted piece) new life.  Don’t be afraid to dye something.  Make sure the fabric you’re going to be working with will take dye (and the process) well.  Follow the directions on the package and you’ll find it’s much easier and less complicated than you’d think–and far less scary!  I’d say my only other bit of advice is to make sure that whatever you’re dying is something you’re ok permanently changing, and possibly getting rid of it if doesn’t turn out.

And A Helpful Tip. Don’t just think that the only colors are the ones in the packages/bottles and whatever hideous concoctions you can come up with on your own by mixing them.  Rit has a fantastic color formula guide on their website that’s super easy to use and gives you a plethora of great colors you can make!  Check it out.  The Rit website also has tips for dying certain fabrics and all sorts of other wonderful stuff.  If you’re considering giving dying a shot, definitely check the site out!

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