I have an evening dress that is 100% polyester BUT it says handwash in cold water. Can it be dyed? It's baby blue.
Message: ok, I got one. I have an evening dress that is 100% polyester BUT it says handwash in cold water. Can it be dyed? It's baby blue.
No, it can't. The only kind of dye that will work on polyester is Disperse Dye, which can be applied only at high temperatures. You would have to boil the dress for an hour with the dye. Since your dress can be washed in cool water only, not hot water, let alone boiling water, it cannot be expected to survive the dyeing process.
If you're planning to throw the dress away anyway, you might want to try dyeing it as an experiment; there's always a possibility that the dress might survive the boiling process. If so, you will need to find a large non-aluminum cooking pot, large enough that the dress can move freely when submerged in water. (The cooking pot should not be used for food again after it has been used as a dyepot.) You will need to order Disperse dyes from one of the limited number of dye companies that sells this special type of dye, such as PRO Chemical & Dye or Aljo Dyes in the US, Batik Oetoro in Australia, or Rainbow Silks in the UK. You cannot use all-purpose dye or another type of dye; only disperse dye will work. For medium to dark shades, you will also need the dye carrier chemical that your dye supplier sells; for light shades, you don't need to use the carrier chemical, which is smelly and toxic. See "Dyeing Polyester with Disperse Dyes".
Another possibility is to use fabric paint. You could use Dharma's Pigment Dye System (which, in spite of the name, is not dye at all) or Jacquard's Dye-na-flow. Fabric paint tends to feel a little stiffer than dye, but these two brands are among the softest and lightest of fabric paints, and they are both supposed to work pretty well on polyester, though they do not produce as smooth and even a color as a dye would. They are both ideal for tie-dyeing polyester. Unlike disperse dye, fabric paint needs only ironing to heat-set it, which is much easier on the fabric. You would not need an expensive cooking pot, and you would not be limited to a single color unless you want to be. What do you think? The Dharma Pigment Dye system can be purchased only by mail order (unless you live near San Rafael, California), but Dye-na-flow can be purchased in several good local crafts stores, in addition to being available by mail-order.
I would suggest diluting the paint as much as the instructions permit (for Dharma Pigment, dilute with two to four times as much water as you have paint; for Dye-na-flow, dilute with no more than one-quarter the volume of the paint you use). Put the diluted paint in an inexpensive bucket or other plastic container that you don't mind ruining, and immerse the dress in it and squeeze it around. Having more paint than you really need would make this a lot easier and help to make the color more even. In any case you will inevitably get some unevenness of coloring, but this can look pretty neat. Once the paint has penetrated the fabric, hang it up or lay it flat on some surface that you don't mind spoiling, such as an old shower curtain. Be careful of drips, which will ruin your floor or disfigure your sidewalk. (Wipe up any drips IMMEDIATELY, but plan ahead so they do not happen in the first place.) Let the dress dry throughly, which may take two or three days; when it is dry, heat-set as indicated in the instructions provided with the paint. Delay your first washing as long as possible, up to a month if convenient to do so, and then turn the dress inside out and wash by hand to help avoid rubbing off too much of the paint, which will tend to wear off.
You know what would be neat would be to use some good metallic fabric paint, such as Lumiere, or else add some Pearl Ex brand mica powder to the Dye-Na-Flow or Dharma Pigment dye. The binder in the pigment "dye" paint would hold the Pearl Ex sparkle dust stuff. Lumiere is a Jacquard fabric paint, and all Jacquard fabric paints are supposed to work on polyester. You'd get a somewhat mottled effect, which could be pretty cool.
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Posted: Monday - July 16, 2007 at 06:47 AM