How to dye a 100% polyester, micro-suede, fleece-lined, fur-collared coat

Name: Hannah



Dye polyester and poly/cotton blends

Jacquard idye

Jacquard iDye and iDye Poly

iDye Poly is disperse dye that can be used to immersion dye polyester, nylon, and acrylic. (Note that regular iDye is a direct dye that works only on natural fibers such as cotton.)


Crayola fabric crayons

Crayola Fabric Crayons

Fabric crayons look like regular crayons, but they are very different! Draw on paper, then transfer your design to polyester fabric with a hot iron.



Jacquard dye-na-flow fabric colors

Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow Fabric Colors

Dye-Na-Flow is a free-flowing textile paint made to simulate dye. Great on any untreated natural or synthetic fiber. Fabric paints cannot produce a perfectly smooth solid color on an entire garment.


Powder river® ladies tan micro suede long fur swing coatCountry or region: North America

Message: Hello,

I have a 100% polyester, micro-suede, fleece-lined, fur-collared
coat. My question is, can I dye this coat? I wanted to dye it a dark smoky blue.

Unlike many garments people ask me about, that one is machine washable, and it does not appear to be treated to make it water-resistant. As long as it has not been treated to make it stain-resistant, either, it's a good bet for dyeing.

You can't ever use any ordinary type of dye to dye polyester. All-purpose dyes such as Rit, fiber reactive dyes for cotton, and acid dyes for wool - all of these other types of dye will just wash out. You need to use a special kind of dye called disperse dye, which was developed for use on synthetic fibers.

The problem with dyeing polyester is that it requires high temperatures. Normally, you need to use at least half an hour in boiling water, not hot tap water, to get the disperse dye into the polyester fiber. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely that you have, or want to invest in, a cooking pot large enough to put a long fake fur coat into, with enough room for it to move freely! There has to be enough room for the coat to move freely in order for the dye to produce a solid color. If you stuff the coat into a pot that barely holds it, you will get more of a tie-dyed effect. I can't imagine a pot of less than five gallons being big enough for getting a solid color on your coat. You might possibly be able to call your local hand-weaving or spinning guild to ask whether there is anyone willing to lend or rent out a large dyeing kettle, but you won't want to spend the hundreds of dollars a new pot of that size would cost, until you are planning to make a habit of dyeing bulky items.

This brings us to a new product I saw listed for the first time only yesterday. Dharma Trading Company is selling new "industrial" disperse dyes. They write:
"These are what is known as a 'low energy' dye for Polyester, so they don't require the super high temperatures that the stuff is dyed with commercially, but the hotter the dye bath, the better/darker color you will get. The minimum recommended temperature is 160°F, and 190° does even better. The water soluble bags get thrown into a HOT water washing machine load along with the appropriate amount of liquid Carrier for 30 minutes and then rinsed and washed. "
They add,
"The results are not as long-term, or as bright as commercial Polyester dyes, but these are easier to use, don't need as hot of water and are much less expensive. No fancy dyeing equipment needed, just a washing machine and access to hot water."
Now, nobody I know has a washing machine that will reach 160°F. The hottest normal tap water setting is 140°F, and most people set theirs lower, to 120°F, to reduce the risk that a child will be injured by scalding hot water in the sink or bathtub. It is possible, however, to temporarily raise the setting on your water heater (with all due care), and/or boil water on your stovetop in a large pot, and pour it into your washing machine, adding more hot water until the temperature of the water reaches over 160°F (better get it up above 170°F, since it will cool off quickly).

Since it takes some time for the dye to penetrate the fiber, you must stop the washing machine from draining when it reaches the end of its cycle, and reset it back to the beginning of the cycle, repeatedly, in order to allow enough time for dyeing. See my page, "How can I dye clothing or fabric in the washing machine?".

It is important to note that modern energy-saving washing machines are designed so that cold water mixes in to the hot water, when you set the machine to wash with hot water, so what you end up with is no more than warm, around 100 or 110°F at best. To get around this, when really hot tap water is truly needed, I turn off the faucet for the cold water supply that leads to my washing machine (it has to be turned back on before any rinsing will occur, since my washing machine does only cold water rinses). The water does cool some in the pipes, so use a thermometer to check the temperature of the water as it fills the machine.

I should warn you that some people have said that there might be some risk that very hot water will wear out any rubber or plastic hoses or other parts more quickly than water that is at or below the 140°F maximum that washing machines in the US are designed to handle.

My testing of another brand of disperse dye, Jacquard iDye Poly (which could possibly be the identical dye in a different packaging, or just a similar dye), showed that the blue color worked well on nylon and especially acetate at below a boil, but extensive heating at a full boil was required for full color on polyester. That won't be possible in a washing machine. I will be very curious as to how satisfactory you, or anyone else, finds this dye to be when used in a washing machine, with or without added hot water. I predict that it will be pretty useless without the addition of very hot water, since merely hot tap water is simply not hot enough to dye polyester.

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Posted: Saturday - February 05, 2011 at 10:18 AM          

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