Clothing + Fashion refreshing black clothing with fabric dye (1 of 5)

Published on January 15th, 2013 | by Julie Finn


How-to: Refresh Black Clothing with Fabric Dye

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black clothing in the dye pot with black fabric dyeBlack clothing is the hardest clothing to maintain, because it’s so vulnerable to fading. Even red clothes fade more gracefully than black!

When the blacks in my outfits start looking faded, and my black shirt no longer matches my black hoodie, and my partner’s black work pants start showing wear at the knee, instead of buying new clothes I grab a couple of packs of cheap fabric dye, and over the weekend I make our black garments look like new again. Here’s how:

black shirt faded to grey shirt

BEFORE: black shirt faded to grey shirt

1. Buy some cheap dye. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but normally I HATE Rit dye. It’s hard to work with and tends to not dye evenly, so even though it’s way cheaper than professional cotton fabric dye, you get what you pay for, you know?

However, there is one circumstance in which Rit dye works great, and that is when you want to refresh the color of an article of clothing. Rit, or any other amateur-level fabric dye found at any crafts store, can re-dye black clothes reliably, without a ton of fuss, and without any uneven spots showing. Buy a pack of dye for approximately every two shirts or one pair of pants, knowing that you can also throw an extra pair of socks or underwear into each pot.

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

  • Becky Striepe

    Love this!! I do have a dye question that’s been nagging me. I washed a (brand new!) white shirt recently and it came out covered in brown splotches that won’t come back out. Can I dye it another solid color to make it wearable again? I don’t want to do tie dye or applique, because the whole idea with this shirt purchase was to have a foundation piece in my wardrobe for layering etc.

  • Julie Finn

    Yikes! Did you Oxyclean it, even? Anyway, you absolutely could dye it a different color, but I’d try a few more times to clean it first, and even then go for a pretty dark over-dye, because the stains can dye unpredictably. Mind you, stains are one of the main reasons WHY I over-dye, but it doesn’t always work perfectly.

    • Becky Striepe

      Ooh I should try Oxyclean! If that fails, I’ll give overdying a go. It’s unwearable as-is, so I may as well experiment, right?

  • Kay Small

    I have blue and black jeans that have had close encounters with chlorine bleach. Spots of “pink” show where that’s happened. Can I simply dye them back to their original color or do I have to ‘bleach’ them completely?

    • Julie Finn

      I’m afraid that it WOULD be splotchy if you dyed them as-is. If I had it to do, I’d probably bleach them in the wash, then re-dye them. I’ve heard of others who combine colors successfully for more realistic denim dyeing–black + navy, say, for a dark wash. If you really want them to look great when you’re done, I’d suggest scoring a couple of pairs of old jeans just to experiment on, and only dyeing your own jeans when you’re happy with the experimental jeans.

  • eugenia

    Congratulations for your blog… I love it …. I have a question … Did Rite work for Batik crafts like Dylon used to woork for it ???? Because Dylon doesn´t sell this product anymore….. Thank you…

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