Can I dye my old prom dress a different color?

Name: Sarah


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Fabric crayons look like regular crayons, but they are used for very different things! Do not confuse fabric crayons with regular crayons.



Dye polyester and poly/cotton blends

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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 can be used only on natural fibers such as cotton; it can be mixed with iDye Poly to dye polyester blends.)



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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.


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Message: I have a prom dress that I bought a few years ago. I have a formal to go to, and I dont like the color any more. I want to know if I can dye it a different color. My dress is light pink, like, lighter than baby pink, and I want it to be bright pink or medium purple. I have called all the bridal stores in my area and they dont dye dresses. Do I risk damaging the dress I have, or do I have other options?

The first question you have to ask about any clothing you want to dye is, is it washable?, and the second question is, what is the fiber content?

You can't dye anything that isn't washable, and the type of dye and dye application method depend entirely on what fiber the clothing is made of.

If the dress is made of 100% cotton or 100% rayon, or even 100% silk, it's likely to be easy to dye, using the same fiber reactive dyes that are used in tie-dyeing. (See "About Fiber Reactive Dyes".) If it's made of nylon or wool, you can dye it with acid dyes, or even with all-purpose dyes such as Rit.

However, if it's made of polyester or acetate, it will be difficult and expensive to dye the dress. See "Dyeing Polyester with Disperse Dyes". The problem with polyester is that it can't be dyed with ordinary dyes, only with a special kind of dye called disperse dye, which must be applied in boiling water. Merely hot water will not do the job. In fact, you should boil your polyester dress for at least half an hour with the disperse dye, using an enormous cooking pot, one large enough to allow the dress to move in freely, if you want a solid color instead of a tie-dye effect.  A cooking pot large enough to dye a dress is expensive, especially since you should never plan to reuse a dyeing pot for cooking food.

There's also the question of whether the dress is sturdily made enough to survive extensive boiling. There's a real chance of destroying the dress, especially if it's the sort of dress you usually dry clean. All in all, I do not recommend that you try to dye a polyester, acetate, or acrylic dress.

If you're interesting in painting or stamping designs onto your dress, instead of dyeing it a solid color, then you will have other options. You can use disperse dye crayons or paint to make iron-on transfer designs for a synthetic-fiber dress, or you can use a metallic or pearlescent fabric paint for special effects. See "Iron-on Fabric Crayons for Synthetic Fibers", and "Fabric Paints: a different way to color fibers".

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Posted: Wednesday - February 03, 2010 at 08:12 AM          

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