dying white jeans to black or navy
  • I have some white jeans that I'd like to dye. I already tried one pair with an inferior dept store dye. They took the color, but there were splotches on parts. I bought Procion dye and soda ash and followed the directions to a T. I used the top load washing machine. The pants are darker - which is great, but the splotches are there. I've washed the pants a few times before and 1 time after. I had another pair of pants that are lighter than denim, but also cotton, and I put them in the washer too, but only for a few minutes to turn them grey. The color on those are perfect! But, a few splotches again. What went wrong, most likely? Also, I have 1 pair that I've yet to dye navy blue. I'd like some advice before I start that project. Any help would be great. I need pants for work and this is a cheaper idea since the white pants are on clearance. Thanks!
  • If you are using Procion MX dyes, I would not recommend dyeing pants in the washing machine. The heavy material jeans are made of can be challenging to properly dye with this particular dye in a washing machine. For even color, you'll probably want to dye in a large pot or bucket. Procion MX dyes are what are known as "fiber reactive dyes." These dyes work by actually reacting with the fabric. Thus it is easy to end up with spotty results if you are not careful when dyeing. My opinion is that the washing machine does not allow you enough control. What you want to do is disolve the dye powder in warm water in a pot or bucket with some salt. Make sure it is completely disolved. The bucket must be big enough to allow the pants to move freely during dyeing. You do not want any bunching or folding of the fabric while in the dye bath. Wet the pants in water first and then introduce them to the dye bath. Stir constantly, keeping the pants moving for at least 25 minutes. Then SLOWLY introduce the soda ash, pre-disolved in hot water. Continue stiring for another 25 minutes. Then rinse and you're done! This should give you really even coloring...
    If you want to dye in washer (which can be easier and less time consuming), I'd recommend using a differnt dye. iDye Natural is ideal for this application (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/idye.html). This is a dye that is essentially designed for use in the washing machine (whereas Procion MX dyes are used more for tie dyeing, submersion dyeing, direct application, etc). As long as your cycle is hot (the hotter the better) and you have enough water in the tank (and you don't stuff the machine with fabric), you should get even coloring in the washer from iDye Natural. This dye may also be used in a pot on the stovetop, with the heat on high, for even better results... In general, I would say that the more hand you have in the dyeing process, the better results you will probably have...
    By the way, all this is assuming that your jeans are 100% cotton. If this is not the case, let me know, as you will have to use a different dye.
  • Thank you! I had no idea I had a response. I would prefer the washing machine version. I don't have a bucket large enough to dye jeans in...

    Do you think I can correct the 2 pair I've done so far? What do you recommend as far as the splotches? 1 pair is easily done to pitch black if it can work. The other pair is light gray with some darker gray splotches. What do you think? I bet each of them has spandex in them, also. Don't they all these days? :) I will look at the idye too. Awesome response, thanks so so so much!

    Elizabeth
  • Elizabeth,
    Dyes are always transparent. So usually you will be able to see the blotches on your fabric through the color you overdye it... Not very desirable. Thus, unless you are dyeing jet black, you'll want to remove the blotches before dyeing again. You can use a Color Remover to remove your shoddy color (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/color-removers.html). Color Removers require heat, though, so you'll have to do this in a pot on your stovetop... Your other option is to dye your pants a deep black color, which is the only color, probably, that will cover up your blotches. However, truly deep blacks require high heat, no matter what dye you are using. So any way you look at it, you're probably going to want to get a pot and start dyeing on the stove top...
    As long as the spandex content in your fabric isn't higher than 30% or so, it shouldn't be a problem. Much higher than that, and your dye job will begin to look partial (as these dyes will only color natural fibers). If you are working with fabric with a lot of synthetic content, you can mix iDye and iDye Poly together for even coloring...
    Hope this is helpful!
    Asher
  • Ok. I'm going to look into doing this over my holiday break in a couple weeks. Thanks, Asher. :)