No Grey in IDye Poly color palette :-( Is there another option to dye Poly & Nylon?
  • I have a shirt which I highly suspect is Poly or Nylon or some combination thereof (possibly even with some Lycra or Spandex thrown in), however, there is just no way to know for sure at this point since it was bought years ago in Italy and the care label has long washed out. It is not a blouse but rather a thicker, knit material.

    I really love the shirt but unfortunately it was the victim of a serious red-wine mishap and in order to wear it again, I would need to dye it a slightly darker shade than it is now (after much laundering, the stain is not even red at this point but more of an ecru looking water stain). My problem is that the shirt is light gray and I would need either your silver gray or your gunmetal to achieve desired results. Unfortunately, the IDye Poly color palette is very limited and does not match my needs, therefore, I am forced to resort to another method of dyeing that would accomodate Polyester and/or nylon.

    Could I use acid dye on a shirt made of these synthetic fibers? And if so, should I also throw in a packet of Idye regular for good measure, just in case they actually did mix some cotton in with the synthetics? If not, what other choices do I have? Would the Dye-na-flow product work just painted on solid, without making the shirt stiff. Help...

    I thank you in advance for any advice you can provide.
  • After you dye the shirt, the stained area will continue to be darker than the rest of the shirt. You'll do better to choose a much darker color, since that will cover the stain better.

    See if there's a bit of excess material you can snip from an inside seam, and do a burn test for fiber content.

    If your shirt is made of nylon, you will get better results with acid dye than with disperse dye, and acid dye is less trouble, too.

    If it's polyester, there is no dye alternative to disperse dye, though you can check the disperse dyes sold by Aljo Mfg, in New York, for additional colors.

    If the shirt is made of both polyester and spandex (detect the spandex from its stretchiness, not from the burn test), then you won't be able to dye it at all, because the boiling water required for dyeing polyester will ruin the spandex. You can consider using a fabric paint in that case, such as Dye-Na-Flo, but be aware that this is only for mottled or multi-color effects, as it will not produce a completely smooth solid color.

  • Paula - thank you for your help. I hesitated for a few days as I was convinced that the project was doomed because the shirt was poly with spandex and Lycra. Luckily you urged me to do a burn test and to my surprise, the shirt had lots of excess material along the sides of the zippers that run down it. I couldn't believe my eyes: The flame was steady, the smell more like leaves than anything else and the ash crumbled (no dripping like w/poly or nylon). It was mostly cotton! I still knew it had lycra and spandex in it because of the super amount of stretch in the shirt, but I decided to start w/straight gunmetal IDye and see just how much cotton. The shirt turned immediately the minute I put it in the pot. I dyed it on a very low temp because of the spandex/lycra factor. After all was said and done, it turned out beautifully, and best of all, no trace of any of the wine stain. Close-up it does have a sort of brindle look to it - but very even and not in a splotchy way - so I assume that this is one or more of the stretchy fibers that didn't take the die as well, correct? I like it and my husband thinks it's goodlooking too, so I may leave it how it is. However, I had already contacted Aljo and ordered some gray disperse dye to cover any spandex or lycra in the shirt, so I could still do that process. The problem I anticipate is that it is a light pearl gray, so it probably won't make any difference. I also bought the Jacquard Acid Dye in gunmetal. Do you know if this acid dye will also cover lycra and spandex (there is no mention of that in the description but the Aljo disperse dyes say they cover nylon, acetate AND lycra/spandex so I thought I would ask)? If not, does Jacquard make something (Disperse Dye?) for those fibers? If so I could fill-in the brindle with that if it comes in gunmetal.

    Thank you again for your indispensable advice!
  • That's a very good outcome. Cotton or rayon is so much easier to dye than polyester. I personally would choose only a cool water fiber reactive dye, such as Procion MX dye for a cotton/spandex or rayon/spandex blend. Procion MX dye is superior to iDye because it is set with washing soda, rather than heat, and because it is much more wash-resistant, so it stays intensely colored through years of frequent launderings.

    Note that Lycra is a brand name for spandex, so it's not "lycra and spandex". Spandex is also called elastane. See my page How to Dye Spandex for more info.

    I would not advise trying to dye the spandex in the shirt. Spandex is best dyed before it is extruded into fibers. It should not be dyed with iDye Poly or Aljo Disperse dye, if you want the garment to remain otherwise unchanged, but in theory it can be dyed with some acid dyes, particularly premetallized acid dyes. You may as well try your gunmetal acid dye, and tell us how it worked! However, heat really is bad for spandex and can cause the shape of the garment to be distorted. It's almost invariably better to accept the look of the undyed spandex in a spandex fiber blend, dyeing only the other fibers in the blend (assuming they're not polyester).

  • Paula -

    I've decided to go with your second line of advice (as much as I'd like to be your guinea pig..haha) and accept the outcome. I consider myself lucky that I got way better results than I ever dreamed of when I thought it was polyester. At this point I am just very grateful that I can now wear the shirt and that it is a color I actually like (I've worn it twice already!). I just have a hunch I should stop while I'm ahead :-) I will attempt to attach a picture of my handiwork here.

    You know, I would have used the Procion MX dyes but they didn't have a gunmetal and I don't think the pearl grey would have been dark enough to cover the stain. I plan on using them on the linen pants I wear with the shirt; they're looking a bit faded now that I have revitalized the color of the shirt.

    I do have another question for you (if I haven't passed my quota yet): I have a handkerchief type top that I also got in Italy and I love the style but have never been fond of the color. It is hot pink and I'm just not a pink or purple sort of gal. Can you tell me what my choices might be in the way of dying it a new color? It is 100% cotton and is a loose cable-knit like a sweater (I'll attach a pic). I figure I can use the Procion MX on it (which has great color selections), but am mortified at ending up with it purple. If my only choices are something dark like purple or black, would it be possible to use a color remover and start fresh? Or is that a big gamble?

    [Ugh...after much effort, I am unable to get the posting to accept my pics; seems my picture files are way too big. Sorry.]
  • I think you've made the best decision in keeping your shirt the way it is now.

    As far as the hot pink top is concerned, you have a few choices if you don't try a color remover first. Hot pink can be overdyed with yellow to make orange, or with a lighter yellow to make a coral color. A light olive green will turn it to a subtler rose color, while a darker olive color will make it brown. A neutral gray will tone it down to a berry color. Blue or turquoise will produce bright purples, which you don't want. A sufficiently dark navy blue will produce an eggplant color. The only remaining alternative is black. Black can cover any color if you use enough of it, and by that I do mean quite a lot of dye powder, possibly applied in two sequential dyeings, if the first is inadequate.

    Unless one of those colors will suit you, you should try to lighten the pink first with a color remover. You can use chlorine bleach on a 100% cotton garment, but I prefer to use one of the sulfur-based color removers, such as Jacquard Color Remover, which is thiox (thiourea dioxide), or Rit Color Remover (it's better in quality than Rit dyes), which contains sodium dithionite. These color removers work best in hot water, and even better in nearly boiling water, but try whatever temperature you're comfortable with for the garment first. I like to start with Rit Color Remover in the washing machine, although it's not as effective as the stovetop method, because it's so much less trouble, and you can always try again.

    Color removers and bleaches do not always work at all, and frequently they fail to remove all of the color, or even turn it a different color, but they usually lighten the original color enough to make it easier to overdye. Any lightening of the current color that you can achieve will give you more options in your final color. Wash the top after you try bleach or color remover, before you dye it.

    If you use chlorine bleach, see my page, How can I neutralize the damaging effects of chlorine bleach?. There is no need to neutralize Jacquard Color Remover or Rit Color Remover, except by ordinary washing and drying of any sort.

  • Paula -

    I haven't had a chance to dye the top yet, and frankly, I've been taken a little aback at learning all of the color choices open to me (who knewwww!?). I'm excited at the options and leaning a little towards eggplant...but that could change on a whimsy. I'll post once I do the deed and let you know how it comes out.

    Thank you again for sharing your vast amount of knowledge with me!