Quick and dirty polyester dye job
January 20, 2015 7:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to dye some fabric that's a 35/65 cotton/poly blend and I want to do it quick, dirty, and cheap.

I've read up on using disperse dyes and boiling water and that whole procedure. However, this is for a cheap used coverall that just needs to be black-ish (for a costume) and if there's a faster way to do it I'm all for it. It doesn't have to be a perfect dye job - uneven is fine as long as it's closer to black than the navy blue it is currently.

I know that, for example, if I were to draw on it with a Sharpie then it'd stain black just fine, and hold through a wash, maybe two - which is probably one more wash than this coverall will ever see again. Is there some indelible ink I can buy in bulk and just pour on this thing, leave for an hour, then rinse out? I don't care if it's a bit more expensive than a disperse dye as long as it doesn't involve me finding a pot big enough to hold coveralls and boiling water both.
posted by komara to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live in New Orleans and have a big old gumbo pot that i keep just for dying costume parts. You can borrow it if you want.
posted by artychoke at 7:34 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You are my kind of person and if worse comes to worst I'll probably take you up on that.
posted by komara at 7:37 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Spray paint or watered down acrylic would probably work. The might both but the acrylic def will dry a bit stiff. Cheap kids craft paint won't have much pigment so if there's a pattern or a dark colour underneath it'll prob still show through.
posted by stellathon at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2015

I've never tried it large scale or intentionally, but I work with India ink in an art capacity and it stains clothing black, particularly if you don't try to rinse it out while it's still wet.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:26 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Would fabric paint work? I'm talking about the kind that people use on upholstery. It's spray-on, and shouldn't rub off into skin when it's dry.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:12 AM on January 21, 2015

Best answer: If you just need it to be black for a costume, krylon spray paint work fine. I spray paint costume parts all the time. It will be SO much easier than trying to dye the thing because cotton and polyester take different kinds of dyes.
posted by LittleMy at 5:53 AM on January 21, 2015

Black Rit liquid dye and rubbing alcohol will do it. Saturate the fabric with rubbing alcohol (this lets the dye take evenly) and then soak it in a bath of rubbing alcohol and dye. Soak it for a while, then rinse until the water runs clear.

I used 1 part black and 1 part brown to 14 parts alcohol to get a light grey on a 50/50 poly cotton white - I'd recommend a much stronger ratio for you since you're going for black, but you might want to throw some brown in there as well, as Rit's black is very brown. This method requires a lot of rubbing alcohol, but the dollar store is your friend here.
posted by okayokayigive at 6:19 AM on January 21, 2015

Response by poster: Hell's bells, Krylon even says in their FAQ "Krylon spray paint is a unique opportunity for you to become your own personal fashion and interior designer by providing you with a fun, easy and affordable way to update your wardrobe and home fabrics."

Considering I have a can of black spray paint rattling around somewhere I think this will be the solution this time. I bought two sets of coveralls since I was actually able to find two in my (extremely tall) size. I'll spray one and if I don't like the results, well, I still have the other to work with - and all these other great solutions to consider.

I don't know why I never would have thought to just go spray paint on clothing, but I didn't. Thanks!
posted by komara at 7:20 AM on January 21, 2015

If that fails, a couple of packets of i-Dye poly (BE SURE TO GET POLY) will dye poly blend stuff. I've seen it at Michael's and HobbyLobby.
posted by sarajane at 8:46 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Forgot to add, in the washing machine, for ease. No gumbo pot needed.
posted by sarajane at 8:47 AM on January 21, 2015

IDye Poly really doesn't work in the washing machine. It works on polyester only at temperatures much closer to boiling. And Rit dye won't work at all on polyester, not that it works particularly well on anything else. Spray paint will make the fabric stiff and scratchy, but it avoids the whole problem of boiling.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 5:03 PM on January 26, 2015

Response by poster: Reporting back for anyone that may stumble across this thread in the future:

I went the spray paint route. I had part of a can of Rustoleum black and I used that as a starter. Ran out quick so I bought some cheap Krylon black which ended up spraying more like dark gray than anything. That ran out so I got another few cans of Rustoleum black. Got the whole thing covered and looking good, though still a bit stiff and scratchy.

Because I have time, and I have more paint, and I have a desire to simultaneously learn lessons and sabotage myself, I chose to wash the coveralls to see how much the exterior scratchiness would be reduced and how much paint would be lost. Answer: a significant amount. Got some re-spraying to do very soon. It looks like most of it came off of the areas where I didn't totally soak the fabric but instead just hit it up with a light spray.

Easier than boiling dye in a bigass pot on my stove? Up until I chose to wash the results, probably so. At this point? Definitely not.
posted by komara at 8:42 PM on February 8, 2015

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