Dyeing some old makes

I did a bit of a taking-stock exercise the other day: digging all the garments I’ve made out of my wardrobe and re-assessing the ones I’ve not been wearing very much. Generally my reason for not wearing something falls into one (or more) of three camps:
1. Never fitted well or no longer fits (I’ve lost a little weight over the year)
2. Doesn’t suit or isn’t consistent with my wardrobe/style
3. Not suitable for everyday wear and/or any occasions

I can address Reason 1 by taking items back to the machine for alterations, and I’ve got a little pile that needs reworking (namely my Tania culottes and Kelly skirt, both of which are too loose on the waist now.). Reason 3 is a bit trickier. I love my midcentury dress for example, but it’s a bit formal for everyday and a bit cleavagey for family things. Hmm. I’ll come back to you on that.

Reason 2 is often due to my colour or fabric choice. I’ve got much better at picking prints and colours that I feel comfortable in now, but some of my earlier makes have some questionable choices. So I selected a few garments that I thought would benefit from a little colour change.


I’ve been seeing a lot of super cool dyeing techniques on sewing/refashioning blogs lately (photos above from Charity Shop Chic, SallieOh, Crab & Bee, Victory Patterns, book), and decided it was time to give it a go myself. Nineties throwback tie-dye this ain’t: the new trend seems to be inspired by traditional Japanese shibori, which typically uses indigo dye and complex folding and tying techniques to create intricate dye patterns.


I couldn’t really do the technique properly because I already had completed garments to work with, not yardage. But I had a go at pleating and tying them up in the hopes of creating some interesting patterns. I used twine because I didn’t have any elastic bands to hand.


Into the dye bath they go. I used two sachets of black Dylon hand dye with 500g salt.


Pro tip from me to you: make sure your rubber gloves don’t have holes in, or you end up with tie-dyed hands too.

After a soak and rinse, here are my garments with their new looks!

I love how the chambray Scout came out the most. The placement of the dye is really cool: it looks a bit like a spine or ribcage because I folded it down the middle before rolling and tying. I never wore my Scout before as I thought it had a bit of a hospital scrubs vibe, but I love this new-look one.

The tie-dye effect didn’t really work on my previously-icky-pink raglan tee but at least it’s now a lovely shade of grey. There’s some faint pinkish streaks left which look a bit accidental so I might give it another dip sometime.

The ballet dress came out a bit odd: there’s a weird dark area at the top, but the skirt has some cool stripes. I might re-dip the entire top half in black to even it out. Not bad for a first try, and I learnt a lot to do differently next time.

3 thoughts on “Dyeing some old makes

  1. Avatarcrab&bee

    I agree with you, your Scout turned out beautifully! Dye is such a great way to make so-so projects awesome. I finally got a pair of heavy-duty gloves instead of using kitchen gloves with a hole! Exciting!

  2. AvatarAlex

    I quite like the raglan tee – those lines make it look like the movement you get in white noise. Not sure if that is a conventionally good look but I like it :) The Scout turned out so well, really cool spine effect! And ugh, dye hands. The worst. Have you got it off your fingernails yet? Stayed on mine for like two weeks :(

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