Updated: Sep 30, 2020
The answer, the internet give you is: No, but you can buy one. But not anymore!!! I'm here to tell you, you can tie-dye synthetic material, multiple colors and not end up with one muted color! If you've tried dying dresses you know that's the end result, a pastel mess. Although this technique is more work than just going to the store and buying the dye, this DIY project's end result did not let me down! If you try it out, please let me know! I'd love to see more fancy tie-dye success stories or just see what type of results you got.
Let's start with the dress...
It began it's life as an amazing pale yellow bridesmaid dress, which had an itchy tag that was removed pre-wedding back in 2016, so have no idea what the fabric is. Worn here during one of the first weeks of the Covid-19 lock-down for fancy Friday.
I didn't even think about the fabric not holding the dye when I decided to use it for a tie-dye project. I thought that it might not be super bright but had no idea what was to come. I did the twist method of tie-dyeing, and then rubber banded it and died it.
If you have tried to dye a synthetic material you probably know what happened. As I rinsed the amazingly dyed dress, all the colors you see rinsed away. The majority of the purple, blue, green, and teal all went down the drain leaving a very light tie-dye look. I was hesitant to put the rinsed dress in the wash, but I knew it must be done. I knew that it wasn't a success, it was not the bright tie-dye look that I wanted but it still looked tie-dyed. When I removed the dress from the washer and the results were devastating.
I mean it came out pretty! It's kinda tie-dyed, a seafoam/cotton candy mottled color. I would have said it was a win for a dress re-vamp but it was not a win for tie-dye. My next plan was to buy synthetic fabric dye. Having used it before I knew that I would have to cook the fabric so I could do one color or the dip the fabric - neither of which I wanted the end result look. I was stumped and the internet was no help. I began to brain storm what dyes everything and won't ruin fabric. I decided to try an item I have used in the past, ALCOHOL INK, and not the fancy store bought stuff either! I had learned a while ago you can make DIY alcohol ink from dead permanent markers. If you are cheap and love not wasting art supplies you learn how to 'Recycle, Renew, Reuse' items you have! I had made this for a past project and knew that permanent marker alcohol ink is not only cheap to make, but works. I was just not sure if it works on fabric. I opened all the dead sharpies I had and those became the colors that the dress would hopefully become. The process is pretty easy, open the back of the marker take out ink, cut up the stick and put it into dye bottles and fill with isopropyl alcohol (I did a mixture of 99% and 70% because I ran out of 99% and because of Covid-19, the stores were out of stock). I originally filled the bottles up about 1/2 way and probably had 2-3 marker ink sticks in each.
I waited and shook the bottles to pull the pigment out of the sticks and into the alcohol, I had my dye. I saturated the dress that I had already twisted and wrapped with rubber bands. Then I let it sit in the sun. The whole time I waited I thought about what else I could do if this didn't work. I had already put this dress through a lot and now it smelled really bad so it not only had to be rinsed but it really needed to be washed! Alcohol ink is really potent smelling, like do it outside smelly.
After about 4 hours I unwrapped the dress and was sure to take photos before I rinsed it out just incase there was another rinse out catastrophe!
I was sooooooo excited to see it unwrapped in all it's colorful glory! But the real answer was still left to be answered when I rinsed. Would all this gorgeous color wash away like the last attempt.
As I ran the dress under cold water I saw some color running out, but it was minimal. The final test would confirm if it was a success.
I wanted to open it to check on it multiple times but I stopped myself. If it didn't work, it didn't work. This was probably the most nail-biting wash cycle I've had. I was glad I used the express cycle so it went quicker than the standard cycle, but still. When the washer stopped I was already waiting. Have you ever waited for the spin cycle to end??? It's not as quick as you assume it should be. I opened it, I was setting my expectations low, an I was ready to be disappointed.
I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED!
OH MY GOSH!!!
Although it did lose some color, it was a complete success in my book. I actually had someone comment on it at the store and they were surprised to learn I did it myself! I honestly love it even more now! The smell of the alcohol and permanent marker came out, and the fabric was just as soft as it was pre-dye.
If you are like me and looking to make a fancy tie-dye dress but you keep coming up empty handed on your searches look no further! It's super easy to make the dye yourself with 2 ingredients you probably already have in your house and it's a great way to get rid of those dead permanent markers. You could probably use store bought alcohol ink but for the amount you use it's not really cost effective. Remember, if you do decide to give it a shot please show me you're results! Maybe next time I'll make a video of the entire process.
Stay happy and healthy!