Impossible filter: can I dye a pink synthetic upholstery fabric green
November 6, 2019 9:23 AM   Subscribe

I have several yards of synthetic upholstery fabric. It is heavy weight and a dusty rose in color. Ideally I'd like it to be a sage green. Any suggestions? The Rit website suggested adding green would (reasonably enough) create brown but had no suggestions about how to create green.
posted by arnicae to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sadly, based on my experience with dyeing and researching into dyeing, I have to agree that this will not be possible. You can typically dye darker in the same color family (or at the very least, keeping warm vs cool constant). Switching from warm (pink) to cool (green) won't work: you'll end up with some muddy dark color. Most synthetics are also harder to dye than natural fibers (if it were a natural fiber, I would suggest bleaching and redyeing, but I don't think that will work on synthetic. My advice is to buy this fabric and buy new upholstery fabric in the shade you require.
posted by ClaireBear at 9:30 AM on November 6 [7 favorites]

Agreeing that dusty rose to green will not work well. One option is painting the fabric, but that will usually change the texture and require ongoing maintenance if the fabric is to be moved or touched at all.
posted by soelo at 9:34 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]

Yeah, generally speaking, you dye natural fabrics and not synthetics. I suspect you would end up with an awful trainwreck if you dyed this.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:35 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]

see: color wheel

You have something that is (roughly) red, and green is made up of blue+yellow. There is no equation that includes red and ends up with green.

Also, while synthetics are hard to dye, they're even harder to undye. It's basically a piece of colored plastic.
posted by itesser at 9:42 AM on November 6 [4 favorites]

Agreeing that it isn't a color problem, it's a fabric problem. Synthetics just aren't ever going to dye well.
posted by Gray Duck at 9:43 AM on November 6

You could test a small bit of the fabric to see if you can bleach it and if the bleach makes it light enough (e.g. some dirty shade of white) then you could try dying it green. But synthetics are usually difficult to dye.
posted by Polychrome at 9:44 AM on November 6

There are dyes for synthetics but they typically need to be done hot - in a pot over a burner and in large volume. Probably not worth the effort and the likely poor results unless you do a lot of dyeing and would continue to do so. I'd dump the fabric and find something else myself.
posted by leslies at 11:11 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]

I've dyed some wool rugs, a mustard gold rug ended up a pretty teal with blue Rit dye that faded a lot over time. A cream rug went dark navy with Jacquard Acid Dye(I estimated the weight) so there's a fair bit of serendipity. This is a useful site. You can dye synthetic, but you need specific dyes. DharmaTrading is helpful, also Rit. Rose and Sage are basically across the color wheel from each other, so I would not try this. Dark murky green might be possible.
posted by theora55 at 12:13 PM on November 6

Just take the money you would have spent on buying (a lot of) dye to try to dye this fabric and use it to buy new fabric. If you shop clearance, there's a good chance you can get a few yards of upholstery fabric you actually like for a similar price to the dye that would be required to even attempt this.

There are rare exceptions -- natural fibers with little texture or wear in light colours that you want to dye in similar hues -- but for the most part, dying should be reserved for when you want to do something cool and artistic to a basic, white/natural fabric, and not to try to fix fabrics you don't care for in their current state.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:51 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]

I am not hopeful of success either but you could try thiox (thiourea). It’s a discharge agent/color remover.
Note: don’t eat it. Follow local disposal guidelines.
Also: it smells unholy.
posted by janell at 6:28 PM on November 6

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