T-Shirts, Dyeing and Otherwise
March 21, 2005 6:44 PM   Subscribe

Joy of joys, I've finally found a t-shirt I love (Jockey Classic, tagless, crew neck). That said, I hate wearing a white t. So, then, a two parter: 1) Can anyone discuss dying a t-shirt? I'm concerned not only with a simple process I can easily follow, but also with the color both remaining solid (as opposed to streaking) and also not running off in the wash onto other items. 2) Simpler still, can someone recommend a colored t-shirt similar to the Jockey? I'm looking for something that comes in a variety of colors and is lightweight, inexpensive, 100% cotton, preferably tagless and lacking the seam running along the rib/shoulder line that so many color t-shirts have.
posted by boombot to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1) Get some Rit Dye. Follow the instructions. Success! Permanently dyed clothing.
posted by cmonkey at 6:59 PM on March 21, 2005

without the seam would be a "raglan sleeve"--much more comfortable, i find. i can't recommend any makers, but google around. ringer tees are usually raglan.
posted by amberglow at 7:02 PM on March 21, 2005

Umm, is this the Jockey shirt you mean? If so, it comes in multiple colors. Just order it online.
posted by drpynchon at 7:05 PM on March 21, 2005

With regard to the seam, do you mean at the top of the shoulder, or around the armpit?
posted by fionab at 7:06 PM on March 21, 2005

Medium, Large, XL? Jockey no longer supports small men.
posted by geoff. at 7:20 PM on March 21, 2005

RIT is kind of OK. It's a union dye, which means that it'll dye just about anything, but doesn't do it very well. While it probably won't stain other shirts in the wash load, it will fade, and (ime) fairly quickly.

For something a little better, in terms of both durability and resistance to running, try Dylon (available at fabric/craft stores).

For something even better, although more expensive and slightly more complicated, use a fiber-reactive dye like Procion MX and follow these
posted by jlkr at 7:30 PM on March 21, 2005

I just redyed a pair of pants that I accidently spilled bleach on with RIT. It worked really well, I was told that I should wash it with vinegar afterwards to set it. I don't know if it helped or not because I did that before wearing it or washing it with other clothes.
posted by substrate at 7:59 PM on March 21, 2005

I second the suggestion for RIT. It is easy to find in any grocery store, it isn't that expenive, it's easy to use and I've never had a problem with the dye getting on anything else in the wash.
posted by pwb503 at 9:07 PM on March 21, 2005

And you can do the dyeing in a washing machine. If you want to make sure you don't dye your next load, run a couple of empty loads afterwards with bleach. You could also be antisocial and do your dye load at a landromat.
posted by plinth at 4:47 AM on March 22, 2005

You have quite a few options as far as dye goes.

If you want to use Koolaid, take a look at the chart here. It details the different colors you can get with the different flavors. This only holds true for organic materials, but since you're using 100% cotton t-shirts, it should be okay. I wouldn't hold your breath as to the staying power of this dye though.

RIT with vinegar is probably your best bet, unless you're wanting to do designs or something where in that case you'd be better off with Dharma dye. I've never actually used Dharma but I frequent a few craft boards and they seem to like it.

Hanes makes tagless t-shirts that are lightweight and 100% cotton, but in my experience, they're rather thin and can become see through after time. They come in a boatload of colors though.

What you might find productive is to pop down to your local craft store, whether it be A.C. Moore or Michaels or whatever is around, and check out the t-shirts they have for sale. Usually they'll have an entire wall/section of the store dedicated just to clothing modification. The people working there, if you ask, will have some advice/thoughts on what dye to use and might even have some suggestions as to other t-shirt brands to check out.
posted by tozturk at 5:56 AM on March 22, 2005

One thing to worry about is that, while the shirt may be all cotton, the thread holding it together may not. (and they don't have to list that on the tag).

if that is the case, and you use something like Rit, you may end up with viable undyed threads around the bottom and sleeves where it's hemmed. It can dye synthetics, but IME just not as well as cottons.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:19 AM on March 22, 2005

I've also had RIT dye be sketchy on the hemming threads, but usually I liked the new 'accent stitching.' So far I've never had much of a fading problem with RIT if you use the vinegar trick they suggest on the package. Also, RIT comes in lots of colors, cheap, easy to find at the grocery.
posted by nile_red at 8:51 AM on March 22, 2005

My mother owns and operates a clothing store and has extensive experience with dyeing garments. She once had me make a flyer for her (MS Word is the devil) which she distributed to her customers. I can't remember whether this applied to garments they bought that had been dyed or to garments they themselves dyed. But in any case, it provided instructions for using salt to "set" the dye so that it wouldn't run when the clothes were washed (and bleed all over the other clothes). Basically, if I recall correctly, the method simply involved using a cup of salt per load of laundry. I think it was supposed to be the non-iodized version, but I can't remember.

I'm currently searching my hard drive for the flyer, but coming up empty. It's probably on the store computer. If you need more specifics on this subject, send me an email (address found in my profile) and I'll dig up the document or simply ask my female parental unit for details.
posted by Clay201 at 1:05 PM on March 22, 2005

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