Try, Try, Try Again

So remember when I said I was happy that my dye job had turned out? Yea… that was a lie. Well, not entirely. It seemed okay when I did a quick check, but I guess I had been in a hurry. I didn’t realize how dull (too much pearl grey) the color was until I brought the entire thing from the bathroom yellow light into the bedroom white light (hence the check in natural light thing). Basically instead of going to school as I had originally planned, I ended up filling up my buckets again for a second go around. I let it sit for three hours, then I rinsed it, dried it, checked it and prayed that the third time would be a charm. I let the last one soak overnight, woke up at 6am to blow dry it and figured that was as good as it was going to get.

Thankfully it wasn’t. I explained my dilemma to my professor and we both agreed that leaving the bobbinet that sad shade of a wannabe sexy crimson red was not going to fly. She told me to try Aljo ( for some professional standard dyes that might allow for a more saturated and richer color.

Located on 49 Walker Street, the closest stop was the A,C,E to Canal Street. What can I say? Amazing, well-informed and super helpful staff. I can’t believe I had never heard of them until now. They have dyes for everything from cotton and rayon to polyester to silk and wools and even wood finishes. If anyone has a solution to your dyeing woes, Aljo will help you solve it. Not to mention, Aljo Dyes are about the same price as Rit Dyes which is awesome!

Professional dyes require a stove top so the kitchen was unavoidable.

SO, SO, SO AWK, but this basically sums up why I avoid using the video recorder…embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Now that is without a doubt, the sexiest crimson red I have ever seen.


DIY Color Matching 101 – The Pursuit of Perfection

I never fully understood how people were able to find the perfect shade of every color in all the fabrics that they needed to produce one color perfect ensemble. It was only until my internship at Marchesa did I learn the true benefits of hand dyeing fabric. It was also there that I overcame my fear of dumping thousands of dollars worth of fabric into a dye vat and praying that it would end up being the same color my swatch had been. So no big deal. I had 4 yards of Swiss cotton bobbinet. Only like a bazillion dollars a yard. Easy peasy.

I opted to use buckets for my mass quantity color match dyeing venture. The instructions on Rit Dye boxes usually suggest cooking it over a stove or using your laundry machine, but I usually avoid that because of the hassle and being banned from my local launder mat forever. The only time it really becomes necessary to have continuous heat is when the color you are trying to achieve is extremely dark/concentrated. Even then I avoid it and just use a microwave…Not the best solution but it gets the job done. Unfortunately I may end up eating my words as I attempt to achieve a rich almost royal red.

Anyway, a few extremely important things to keep in mind when trying to achieve the color you want.

    1.  First and foremost! Know your fibers!!! If it is polyester, you could spend years dyeing your fabric and it will still be as white as the first day you bought it. If you really must dye polyester, buy iDye POLY (<– make sure it says poly because iDye caters to both natural and synthetic fibers).


    1. If possible, try to get the color you want without putting in a million different dye colors. It will add more margin for error the more colors you add in. is a good resource for beginning color match dyers. Keep in mind these are not foolproof formulas so make sure you test the color with swatches before blindly dumping whatever you are dyeing in.


    1. Always have Pearl Grey, Tan and if you can get your hands on it, Ecru (it has been discontinued by Rit Dye but there are still a few places online you can get it). I haven’t tried Taupe yet, but the color looks familiar to Ecru. These colors act as neutralizers and help tone down the saturation of the colors you are using.


    1. Do not assume that blue is blue, black is black, brown is brown etc etc. It took me a while to realize this.  I haven’t dyed with every Rit Dye color yet, but a few things I learned and will probably help for you to keep in mind with the colors you are using…

      Tangerine – More red than yellow
      Sunshine Orange – More yellow than red
      Mauve – Add sparingly, it is a very strong color that has the ability to overwhelm your dye batch.
      Kelly Green – Yellow base
      Teal – A must for trying achieve a color that has teal in it. It just makes the entire process that much easier.
      Navy Blue – Purple base
      Royal Blue – Closest you will get to a true blue
      Evening Blue – Hint of a green base
      Denim Blue – Hint of a purple base
      Dark Brown – Purple base
      Cocoa Brown – Red base
      Tan – Add sparingly and it has the ability to achieve what your desired color, add too much and the entire dye batch will turn Tan. Also be sure to mix extra well (you should always mix well, but extra, extra well) with Tan otherwise you risk specks of red and blue on your newly dyed fabric.
      Pearl Grey – Always have on hand, it tones down the saturation. It just makes your color that much better looking.
      Black – Purple/Blue base. It almost will never be black.


    1. After fabric has been dyed, you do not always have to rinse the fabric and if you do, cold water. Otherwise, you run the risk of the color changing.


    1. Use a hairdryer. I know some of these things seem redundant but it definitely did not occur to me the first time I dyed. Blow dry your swatch to make sure the color is right. If the color is darker, use the cool air setting otherwise you risk fading the color with heat.


    1. Compare the dyed swatch to the color you are trying to match in different lighting. Fluorescent, incandescent, halogen and tungsten bulbs will all give different colors. Natural lighting is the most important as that will tell what the actual color looks like.


  1. Have Oxy Clean on hand. If for some reason the color ends up coming out wrong, Oxy Clean is really good at taking out the dye. I’ve only been told not to use it for silk tulle. I don’t know what happens if you use it with silk tulle but I’m not a glutton for punishment especially for over $50 a yard fabric. Guess I’ll never really know.

In reality, color match dyeing is a completely different animal when compared to your childhood days of tie-dyeing in your backyard. It really is an art that takes a lot of practice and patience to even begin becoming good at. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again… and if that doesn’t work, perhaps it is time to consider taking it to professionals.

The only place I have had experience using is Eagle Dyers for Lace, because lace is almost impossible to dye on your own. They typically run about $50 per every yard requiring dyeing, but the results are to dye (hahaa) for.

Eagle Dyers
335 W 35th Street # 201
New York, NY 10001-1726

So my fabric has been sitting in my bathtub for a little over 3.5 hours now. Typically it should not take this long, but I didn’t plan ahead and only had ½ a box of Pearl Grey and Scarlett to work with so I’m hoping that by extending the time, it will help the color set better too.

My bathroom looks a bit like I’m in the midst of cleaning up a murder scene but I’m happy to say that letting the color sit paid off.

Hurray! Now off to school to continue sewing.