To Dye or Not to Dye…

We’ve done a pretty good job in the last half decade of making over and upgrading our cobbled together, hand me down, college era furnishings into things that rightfully belong in an adult household. I’m pretty pleased overall with our home these days, but there is one eyesore that really gets to me still – the Ikea sofa. Yep, you know exactly what I’m talking about here.

And yes, we were that stupid – we bought the one with the white slipcover. We are not white slipcover people, so I just don’t know what possessed us on that day. We are red wine, messy eater, glue project people. We had no business buying white furniture. But alas we did, and now five years later it looks like something that should be on the curb, where even thrifty dumpster divers would reject it.

I’ve hated it secretly for years now. We bleach it periodically to no real avail. I’ve tried tossing a blanket across the back to cover the worst of it, but it just ends up looking tacky. And you can only have so many strategically placed throw pillows. So in the back of my mind, I’ve always thought I could dye it with RIT dye (which I have been quietly fascinated by since I was a small child – I used to linger in that aisle when grocery shopping with my mom, wishing we could buy some and dye something; anything).

But then the fear creeps in. We don’t have a washing machine in the apartment, so we have to use the laundromat, which is not condusive to dying large pieces of furniture fabric a bright color undetected. The last thing I need is for us to get banned from the laundromat that is about 200 feet from our door. So then I think, I could do it in the tub, but the fear of permanently staining a rental tub is also great. Until I discovered that there is a way to do it, and lots of other people are…

While browsing my Pinterest boards and reading my blog feed today, I came across a tutorial for dying an Ikea rug at Ikea Hackers. The rug looks great, it didn’t take very long, and their bathtub isn’t stained bright yellow forever! I wondered if it was just a fluke, or if others had the same type of success, and came across more people who didn’t have (or overcame) RIT fear too –

One Project At A Time has successfully dyed a whole bedding set, after a little trial and error on the color.

Timidly Confident restored her favorite black tank top with black dye (so there is hope for faded favorites!).

Bachman’s Sparrow makes over boring white towels by dying them bright colors.

D is for Delicate gives new life to a white chair slip cover.

And just to see what the pros have to say on the matter, I headed over to the RIT dye website to see what they recommend, and apparently you can dye fabrics by several different methods – sink or bucket (and I’m extrapolating bathtub), “low water immersion” (which uses a small container for a marbled effect), microwave (interestingly…), stovetop, washing machine, and several others.

So, I’m thinking I’m going to bite the bullet and do it soon (well, as soon as my ankle is healed so I can get down on the floor next to the bathtub…). There are tons of color options in the RIT color guide, but I’m thinking either 497 or 121 red… stay tuned in the next few months; I might just work up the nerve to actually do it!


12 thoughts on “To Dye or Not to Dye…

  1. I’ve never tried dyeing anything that big – I’m really curious to see how it works! I’d be a little nervous about dyeing in a tub… knowing my luck the slipcover wouldn’t turn out and I’d have a bright red tub. 😛

    • I’m so nervous about it, especially since I want to do red! And apparently you have to get in there right away with the bleach and scrub it like nobody’s business. I wonder actually if I could put some kind of plastic liner in there…? At any rate, I’ll keep everyone posted!

  2. Thanks for the mention. You can totally do it girl friend- just don’t be afraid to go back with a little trial and error. (It took me 5 tries to get the right color.) And if I were you, with that really big piece, I’d not only agitate it in your washer, but I’d open up the washer a few times and try to adjust the fabric with a big stick or a broom handle, just so that the dye hits the fabric evenly and you don’t have any creases or dark spots. Good luck!

    • No problem; you’ve got a neat site! But I’m not doing mine in the machine; I intend to try it in the tub! I’ll let everyone know if it turns out awesome, or not so awesome…

  3. Thanks for the link! I have also successfully transformed a decent amount of clothing and some bedding with RIT dye. One suggestion I have is to make sure the slipcover is as clean as you can possibly get it before dyeing, especially if you aren’t going much darker–there’s nothing worse than having a stain show through the dye! Good luck with your project, I can’t wait to see your results.

  4. I dyed the white cover from a chaise from Ikea. Just do it. clean it before you do it. Make sure you have enough dye before you start. Chair took 2 bottles of rit but I could have used three. I don’t recommend using your bath tub. ! get trash can, or wash tub. I did mine out side on a sunny hot day. where disposable glove and old clothes. Let sun dry. the biggest problem is it will be heavy so it is a two person job.
    It turned out out okay — I went chocolate brown.
    Sorry I didn’t take photos. I gave the chaise away not long after because we remodeled and redecorated.

    • Doing it outside does seem like a bit of a safer option, but then I’d have to buy a giant container to do it in… may go that route, though. I have yet to notify my husband that he will be helping with this giant, messy project. 🙂

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