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June 27, 2008 10:58 AM   Subscribe

DIY fabric dying/painting/decorating? I have this dress...

It's all white, ankle length, halter top, very plain- probably from the 70s. It makes a great maxi-dress but it looks bride-ish. In fact, it may have been a wedding gown. So, I'd like to add some color either by dying it (dip dying with a few colors would look nice) and/or painting on it using a stencil or pattern. The right applique might work, too. If it helps, I lean toward a bohemian/ artsy style of dress.

Can you point me to some how-to's or some examples of decorating clothing material? Have any of you done this yourselves?
posted by mistsandrain to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yes! I have stenciled some stuff in my day. I don't know if stenciling is going to be what you want to do, but if so, it's super-easy to print out a pattern or whatever onto the matte side of some freezer paper, then cut out the necessary bits and iron it onto your fabric. It comes right off when you're done! It's amazing!

As for paints, Jacquard Textile Color is fantastic (whether you're stenciling or not). It's carried by most craft supply retailers (like Blick, etc), so it's easy to find, and it comes in a whole lot of colors. It's durable, color-safe, and is fine going through the washer and dryer.
posted by phunniemee at 11:24 AM on June 27, 2008

to start, you could go to any fabric store and look at the fringe/trim to add something to the skirt. they may have a nice crocheted lace in a funky color that would be lovely. i have heard of rubber stamping on garments using textile medium (available in the acrylic paint aisle of michaels et al) with acrylic paint, which also works directly as a paint without the stamps, if you want to go that route.
posted by alpha_betty at 11:27 AM on June 27, 2008

I've dyed a few shirts before and they've come out well, but I wouldn't recommend getting all fancy with many colors or your already 70's-ish dress is going to come out looking like a tie-dye disaster.

I think fabric paints always come out looking cheap, but I think embroidery or sewn-on embellishments could be pretty.

here are some flowers with instructions that I think are nice
posted by rmless at 11:31 AM on June 27, 2008

this is a great start!
posted by mistsandrain at 11:36 AM on June 27, 2008

The first thing I would do would be to determine the fiber content (i.e. cotton, silk, polyester etc) because if the fabric is of manmade material the dye wont take or if it’s a dry clean only fabric the dress might get ruined when you need to rinse the excess dye out (this is recommended so as not to leave dye everywhere or have a ‘crunchy’ garment). I say this only as an advisory so you don’t ruin what could be a potentially awesome dress.
posted by hibery at 11:43 AM on June 27, 2008

I recently discovered sun painting with Pebeo Setacolor paint (transparent). I agree that most fabric painting can look cheesy but this stuff is different. It's more of a dye, really. The sun painting is extraordinarily easy and some really cool results can be had with even the most haphazard/lazy attempts. I don't really like the tie dye sort of look myself so I usually just stick to using one color (self link!). (I used the sun painting technique to paint the fabric for that bag.)

It does need to be at least 50% natural fiber, but that's pretty standard for any dye. If it's polyester you will have more success thinking along applique/embroidery lines.
posted by hecho de la basura at 11:52 AM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree that the fabric type matters a lot in terms of which dyes are going to hold. Can you post that?
Anyways check out the awesome fabric painting in this craftster post. Seems she did that on chiffon.
posted by vodkaboots at 12:05 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I will check tonight- but I think it's some kind of polyester blend...
posted by mistsandrain at 12:16 PM on June 27, 2008

hdlb: the setacolor paints are fabulous, thx
posted by mistsandrain at 12:19 PM on June 27, 2008

jacquard makes great dyes. they have dyes for natural fibers and for plant fibers, and they also have iDye packets for polyesters/blends.

if you totally love this dress, i'd practice dying on some old t-shirts first. it's not as easy as it looks, especially if you want consistent color. you'd also be surprised how adding more or less of the powder really varies the final color you'll get.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:44 PM on June 27, 2008

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