Can I dye my pink North Face down coat?

Name: gabrielle


Save up to 75% on Art Supplies!
Jacquard Acid Dyes

Jacquard Acid Dyes

Jacquard Acid Dyes are concentrated, powdered, hot water dyes that produce the most vibrant possible results on protein fibers including silk, wool, cashmere, alpaca, feathers, and most nylons.

NikWax TX Direct
restores waterproofing

Message: Hello, 
wow! what an amazing site! I was wondering if you had any input or ideas to a question I had about dying. I have a Northface down coat that I absolutely love but it has gotten stains on it. I had the idea of dying it black so as to not see the stains and also improving its color which is pink (and I never have particularly liked that fact). Would you advise me to proceed with this endeavor or not? And if not which course of action would you pursue? Thank you so much. I hope you can help me save my beloved jacket!

The biggest problem you face in dyeing a coat is that it probably has a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish. This is a coating that is applied to the outside of the fabric to resist water. It's very important to have a DWR finish on a down coat, because down loses all insulative ability once it gets wet. If you wear a down coat that has no DWR coating, a surprise rainstorm while hiking on a moderately cool day, with temperatures no lower than 50°F, can actually threaten your life with hypothermia.

If your coat has a DWR coating, you will not be able to dye it successfully, and you probably won't be able to paint it satisfactorily, either. Occasionally one sees advice from non-experts to ruin the DWR finish with fabric softener in order to dye it; unfortunately, the DWR finish will still be there enough to prevent adequate dyeing, and fabric softener itself causes problems in dyeing.

Test your coat by splashing a few drops of water on it. If the water soaks in immediately, then you can try dyeing or painting the coat. If the water sits on the outside of the fabric for more than a couple of seconds, don't bother, because the results will be splotchy and unsightly.

If the water soaks right in, you can try dye or fabric paint. You coat is probably made of nylon, so it can be dyed by heating it with acid dye. Acid dye can be ordered from a dye supplier, or you can take a chance on Rit dye, which contains an acid dye that will work on uncoated nylon, though the color may turn out to be unexpected.

I'd rather not subject a down coat to dyeing, since you have to simmer the coat with the acid dye, plus an acid such as vinegar, for some time, stirring constantly. I doubt that you have a large enough cooking pot to allow the coat to move freely, and if you do, you're unlikely to want to spoil it by using it to dye. You should never plan to reuse a dyeing pot for food later on; textile dyes, including Rit dye, are not safe to use in food preparation containers. Also, the vinegar will react badly with aluminum, so you cannot use an inexpensive pot; you'd want a stainless steel or enamel pot. I don't recommend dye for your nylon coat.

However, there is one last alternative, if water soaks into your coat easily. You can use a fabric paint. Don't use paint that is not labeled for use on fabric, because paint other than fabric paint will be stiff and scratchy. A good fabric paint will be soft to the touch. I recommend that you try Dharma Pigment Dyes, which are a fabric paint, not a dye, because they do not require heat-setting. You will not be able to get a perfectly smooth solid color, so it's best to try combining two or more colors that you like, sponging them on in a random pattern. Again let me stress that this will not work on a water-resistant coat. If your coat has been washed so many times that it is not water resistant at all, it's possible that fabric paint will give good results, but it's not guaranteed. This will be an experimental project for you. Don't do it if you can stand to keep your coat in its current state.

After dyeing or fabric-painting a down coat, you will need to tumble-dry it to encourage the clumps of soggy down inside the coat to fluff up again. I recommend using new, clean tennis balls in the dryer with the down coat. Use the lowest possible setting on the dryer, and take the coat out as soon as it has fluffed up. You might want to use the no-heat air setting on the dryer to fluff up the down, then let it air dry for a day or two, and then fluff it in the dryer again on the air setting.

You will not be able to dye the coat if you can't wash it. If you have not washed it, try doing so, because you might be able to get out some of the stains. You can never dye anything that has not been thoroughly washed first, anyway, because stains can repel dye.

Also see: "How can I dye my waterproof white snowboarding pants?" and "Is it possible to dye a nylon backed gortex membrane?".

(Please help support this web site. Thank you.)

Posted: Saturday - January 17, 2009 at 10:00 PM          

Follow this blog on twitter here.

Home Page ]   [ Hand Dyeing Top ]   [ Gallery Top ]   [ How to Dye ]   [ How to Tie Dye ]   [ How to Batik ]   [ Low Water Immersion Dyeing ]   [ Dip Dyeing ]   [ More Ideas ]   [ About Dyes ]   [ Sources for Supplies ]   [ Dyeing and  Fabric Painting Books ]   [ Links to other Galleries ]   [ Links to other informative sites ] [ Groups ] [ FAQs ]   [ Find a custom dyer ]   [ search ]   [ contact me ]  

© 1999-2011 Paula E. Burch, Ph.D. all rights reserved