Dyeing baby clothes (not so successfully)

May 20 | Guest post by Mich
Dying baby items
Photo by OBB Mich.

I'm pregnant, and recently discovered that looking for offbeat baby clothes isn't exactly an inexpensive hobby. Since I've been DIYing up a storm lately (did you see this recovered baby jumper?), I decided to try my hand at dyeing clothing! I contemplated using machine dye, but was worried it might stain our new washing machine… so I went with warm water hand dye. All of the items I dyed came from a consignment sale, so they were cheap but not exactly to my style or taste.

So…. here's how it went!

What you need

Dying baby items

How you do it

Dying baby items

Dying baby items

How it turned out

Dying baby items

Pros and Cons

The good:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Relatively quick (1 hour of dying time + however long your wash and dry cycle is)
  • 100% cotton items dyed evenly

The ehh:

  • My poly cotton blend didn't absorb enough dye and was blotchy
  • Colours were not bold/vivid enough for my liking, it you were using a different colour (not black) maybe this wouldn't matter as much because it could just be a lighter tone, but it makes the black items look grey.

Overall I quite like the grey tones of the swaddle blanket and the wrap bag, but I'm not all that happy with the onesies. I think I'll need to experiment with some other dyes and see if I can get them darker!

  1. Tie-dye and puffy paint!

    It's easy and really fun to go overboard! I would get sad when I ran out of things to decorate! : (
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22611950@N00/4591913581/in/photostream
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22611950@N00/4592533046/in/photostream

    But then we were able to have a family tye-dye portrait. It was awesome! And we became kind of tye-dye crazy for awhile!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22611950@N00/4864650799/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22611950@N00/4734660960/in/photostream

    And now after looking at these pictures, I think my daughter is due for some new tye-dye clothes!

    3 agree
  2. I actually love the stitching on the onesies being a different color! It looks pretty cool!

    9 agree
    • ๐Ÿ™‚
      Yes I like the effect that made too. I get the stitching thread is polyester (or some other man made material) while the onesies are 100% cotton

  3. I haven't tried full garment dying yet but when I tie dye stuff a few tips to getting the color brighter:

    Pre-soaking in a Soda Ash Fixer can help the colors stay better but it depends on what kind of dye you are using. I'm guessing that's what you salt solution did. Buying a powder pigment vs a liquid mix will allow you a greater control over the depth of color.

    Let dye soak overnight (at least 12 hours), you can do this after your bucket time and just loosely wring it out and put in a Ziploc so as to not mess up your bucket. The warmer it is in the bag the less time you can let it sit. I usually do all my dying on one day, wrap them up and clean everything up. Then the next day or two go through the rinse and wash cycles to spread out the mess.

    Black is always a tough one to do and requires multiple applications and a longer rest period. I really like your dark grey color you got!

    • Thanks for the suggestions.
      I've still got my moby wrap to dye (the bag it came in was a test run) so I'll try some of those techniques then

    • That's interesting about the heat. I wonder if it would expedite things if you microwaved it..

      • The RIT dye suggested stove top simmering as the best way to get strong colours but I didn't have a pot big enough so I used boiling water in my bucket

        • Stove top simmering does help. My roommates still tell tales of my adventures cooking custom-bait My Little Ponies in a bath of RIT dye on the stove in our dorm kitchen.

          1 agrees
  4. I tried doing this with onesies and socks. Even though I washed and rewashed at least 10 times (and followed the directions exactly) the onesies still seeped dye into the rest of the laundry in the spin cycle of the wash. So many cute outfits ruined!

    My conclusion: if you must dye baby clothes, then expect to wash them in a separate load. I already have to wash diapers, my husbands work clothes and all of our regular laundry. I threw them all out. I can't have another "special" load of laundry to consider when I'm already doing 2-3 loads of laundry a day.

    • Thanks for the heads up

      All my clothes are black so I'll have to make sure to wash the dyed ones in with my laundry

      2 agree
  5. I've had much better results in general dying things with the liquid RIT dye. Granted, I've never attempted to dye things particularly bright colors (I tend to prefer muted) but I tie dyed my sheets when I was growing up and never had problems with them fading or running and the colors were exactly as I expected (once again, I expected muted colors, so that might be different)

  6. I didn't realize the jersey bag was from the Moby. We got two Mobys (what an amazing windfall!!) but we don't like the color of either of them. I was skeptical about dying them, but you have given me hope. Thanks!

    • It's actually an "ultimate baby wrap" but from what I can see its the same as a moby (apart from it has rings on one end)

      Moby website says there are 100% natural cotton and machine washable so I can't see any reason why it wouldn't dye.
      Just be sure to have a large enough dye bath for 5 yards of fabric and maybe use a couple of packs of dye?

    • I've dyed a Moby wrap! I got a muddy grayish purple one at a consignment store and bumped up the color to a rich eggplant with a bottle of liquid RIT purple. Did it in a front loading washer per instructions and it came out great, nice and even.

      I imagine results will be best if you don't go tooooo far from the base color. I also think that dyeing an long item like a Moby might come out blotchy if not done in a washer.

      2 agree
  7. I love that you went straight to experimenting with black! Black dye is a toughie – I've never managed to get it super dark either. But heaven knows, finding black baby clothes or accessories is like pulling teeth. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2 agree
    • Yes! I was just going to suggest the same thing. Dharma makes it much easier to find the right dye for your fabric. Setting their dyes is occasionally a little more complicated than RIT / Tulip, but still totally doable and the results are MUCH nicer.

      1 agrees
  8. Sounds like some Soda Ash will help. It really makes the colors vibrant. I've done a lot of tie dying and the stuff that gets done with Soda Ash always looks brighter/better.

  9. I did tie dye onesies for less than favorite hand me downs and it worked REALLY well. Here are my tips

    Buy dye from dharma. http://www.dharmatrading.com/

    I bought procion dyes and over a year later those colors are still BRIGHT and I have been washing tons of baby puke out of them. They also have a ton of colors and I found them to be very accurate. I don't work for them or anything, I was just very impressed. I've since used leftover dye (it's very concentrated!) to dye other things and have never had an issue.

    Also, the stitching is probably polyester and would need a different kind of dye for it to adhere.

  10. I've read somewhere that soaking everything in plain water before adding to the dye bath will help keep things even.

    I've had a lot of success in the past with Dylon machine dye for all sorts of things and the hand dye (done in a sink without staining it!) with a cashmere cardigan (just be careful to keep the temperature changes gradual).

  11. Just piping in to say that hell yes to non-white baby clothes. We had some white things gifted/handed down to us, and neither of us wear white at all, so we never have bleach in the house really. So….needless to say, everything white just ends up stained or dingy looking so fast. So irritating. Now I make sure to never buy anything white for the kid. It can be hard sometimes though.

    1 agrees

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