Can I dye an acetate, nylon, and spandex dress BLACK?

Name: Olivea



Dye polyester and poly/cotton blends

Jacquard idye

Jacquard iDye and iDye Poly

Hot water dyes that must never be used on spandex


Procion mx fiber reactive cold water dye

For natural fibers, including cotton, rayon, and silk. Used with cool water, which will not damage spandex.


Region: New England

Message: Hi! This dress I am thinking about buying is a mixture of acetate, nylon, and spandex. (link) What is your suggestion for dying it BLACK, and is it even possible? Thank you so much!

I don't recommend that you buy this dress with the intent of dyeing it. Acetate, like polyester, should be dyed with a type of dye called Disperse Dye, which requires extended boiling for application, but spandex is an extremely heat-sensitive fiber that will be destroyed by any boiling.

When I follow your link, I see a dress that is described as being made of polyester. If it is 100% polyester, with no spandex, then it can be dyed, though with some difficulty, using disperse dye that you purchase by mail-order. You will not be able to dye polyester with any dye that works on natural fibers, such as Procion fiber reactive dye or Rit all-purpose dye. (See "Dyeing Polyester with Disperse Dyes".) Polyester/spandex blends cannot be dyed at all, for the same reason as acetate/spandex blends; these blends are invariably made from predyed yarns.

The dress in the picture I see has a dramatic black, white, and brown print. In general, prints like this cannot be dyed a completely solid color. Since all dyes are transparent, the original color always shows through, at least a little. The sections that were originally black will always be slightly darker than the portions that were originally white. This can produce a nice subtle tone-on-tone effect, or it might just look wrong to you, depending on the design on the specific garment.

It is better, when buying a dress to dye, to purchase only PFD dresses. "PFD" stands for "Prepared For Dyeing". Dresses that are not labeled as being suitable for garment-dyeing have a small but very real risk of not dyeing satisfactorily, even if their fiber content is easily dyeable. If you have an old dress that's worth taking a risk with, you can try dyeing it even if it is not PFD, but it's not really a good idea to buy a non-PFD dress in order to dye it, since sometimes dyeing won't work quite right.

An excellent source for PFD dresses is Dharma Trading Company; see, for example, their short dresses for juniors. Since the dresses are made of cotton or rayon, sometimes with some spandex, they dye beautifully with cool water fiber reactive dyes, such as Procion MX dyes. Cool water dyes don't require you to buy an expensive pot to be used only for dyeing, as hot-water dyes like Rit or Disperse dye do. It is far easier, and less expensive, too, to dye cotton or rayon, instead of acetate or polyester.

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Posted: Wednesday - March 24, 2010 at 06:29 AM          

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