Saturday, November 3, 2012

Overdyeing Linens 101

I've been "dyeing" to try my hand at taking a ho-hum piece of fabric and turning it into something that would make my heart skip a beat.
(Pun intended.)

Many friends in blogland had been overdyeing various items with such amazing success, 
I wanted to experience the surprise and joy of such a transformation.

So, after watching a YouTube video,
asking a multitude of questions from Stephanie (who posted a great tutorial on dyeing here), Tausha, and Birgit
(the Queens of Rit Dye in my book),
I spent Saturday afternoon at my kitchen sink with a bucket, some hot water,
a paint stick, some vintage floral linens,
and various colors of Rit Dye.

[I was also tackling a project in the basement at the same time, 
dealing with sawdust and paint.
Yeah...I'm a multi-tasker. :)]

I started out simply with just using Denim Blue,
experimenting with the right amount of dye to pour into the water.
I'm actually still trying to get a handle on that part,
because I didn't want to see any neon brights screaming back at me from the bucket.

I was going for soft, faded, romantic shades.

I stood there thinking, 
"Do I pour half the bottle in and let the item sit in it for a smaller amount of time,
do I pour a wee bit of dye in and let the item sit in it for longer?
Will it even make a difference....?"

So I poured a bit into the hot water, swished it around, submerged the floral linen,
stirred it around,
looked outside,
watched the birds on the birdbath,
glanced at the calender to see what I had going this coming week,
walked around the kitchen,
stirred it again,
took Maizie out for a potty break,
checked on the project in the basement,
answered the phone, 
glanced at the clock on the wall,

and lifted it up out of the water with the paint stick.

It was a beautiful pale blue!

My first thought was, "Well....THAT was easy!"

Pre-dyed fabric is sitting next to the bucket.

I rinsed it out in cold water,
refilled the bucket again with hot water
and tried Petal Pink this time.

This floral pillowcase was originally white,
and it morphed into a soft, sweet pink.

I then channeled my inner-artist
and tried mixing a little Denim with Petal Pink,
then Denim with Wine,
and finally Purple with Petal Pink ~
calling on memories of Art 101 when we mixed two or three colors together to create another. Remember the Color Wheel?

To be honest with you, I wasn't quite sure what color I was making!
(and no...I did not flunk Art 101. I always got an A+, believe it or not.)

Some colors ended up being too deep a shade for my liking.
Others, turned out soft and worn looking. 
Just perfect.

 I hung the linens outside to dry before they headed to the washer and dryer.

You can see how the first piece of linen has a more lavender hue,
while the other two are a pale blue.

I was happy with the soft, gentle shades.

I will be trying this again soon with a couple white ruffled pillow slips,
and I'll let you know how they turn out.

Until then, don't be afraid to dunk a boring sheet, pillow slip, or
lace curtain into a swirl of deep blue or pink to breath new life into it.

Just close your eyes and think back to Art 101.

You can do it.
And you won't even be graded...

Cross my heart.

~ Blessings ~

PS  (Remember to visit Tausha, Stephanie, and Birgit for more inspiration, too.
Their over-dyed linens are just gorgeous!)

Be sure to stop by Doster Emporium and Heaven's Walk while the Autumn Celebration Sale is going on! There are some wonderful Christmas gifts for that special person in your life!
Hurry! The doors will be closing soon for the season...!

Linking to the Linky Parties on the lower right of my sidebar!


  1. Great experiment! I like the method you chose and I can think of a lot of pretty ruffled but blah pillow slips I could play around with. These turned out so pretty. I'm excited to give it a shot!


  2. Thanks for sharing they look great!Always nice to change an old out dated item to something new and fresh~Cheers Kim

  3. Looks like you are having fun creating some pretty pastels with floral detail which will all look wonderful in your home:-)

    Hope you are enjoying your weekend,


  4. beautiful! love the soft colors. i just might have to give this a try.

  5. Hi Laurie ~~~ so beautiful, well done and so neat that it was so easy too.


  6. You've made white look positively boring!

  7. I dye fabric all the time and love the look too. Looks like you are going to town with the dreamcatchers--good for you! :)

  8. Je m'en vais visiter les blogs que vous nommer, mais avant je voulais simplement vous dire que j'aime beaucoup le résultat que vous avez obtenu... J'imagine votre impatience lorsque vous avez entrepris cette aventure !...
    Gros bisous à vous.

  9. Now this brings back memories of when my Mom dyed things,sometimes her hands. HA! HA! I like what you did and thanks for showing us.

  10. You did a great job darling !!!! from

  11. Laurie is amazing!!!Dyed you managed perfectly-so beautiful,subtle shades!!!I did not last time on FB asked Stephanie to one of its beautifully colored tablecloth and she told me she dyed it herself-WOW-I was stunned-was so beautiful!!!I've already bought paint and I want to try as well,perhaps I will all so wonderfully as you and Stephanie!!
    Have a beautiful autumn coloring and other amazing :-)
    Greetings!!! ♥ Vicky

  12. These look so pretty Laurie! I want to try this!!

  13. What a great idea, and you can find those type of sheets at the thrift store all the time. So glad it all turned out for you:)

  14. Those are so pretty Laurie!... when I was a little girl, my mama always used Rit dye to perk up our older clothes and linens that needed a little something... now, I want to try what you did with some of my own pillow cases and such... love how your soft florals turned out!... xoxo Julie Marie

  15. How fun and they turned out great. I think I may try my hand at Rit dye again :)

  16. Laurie,
    Transformations with amazing results, dear freind!
    My favorite part is what you do with your "inbetween time"! Loved the watching the birds and taking the dog out...too cute! I, too, have some upcoming plans with fabric, but may be put on hold until after the holidays! It's a busy time On Crooked Creek!!! Blessing to you, as well!

  17. Beautiful! Your over-dyeing was a lovely success!
    Mary Alice

  18. Laurie,
    your pieces of fabric turned out great. you did an amazing job and the final result is perfect.

  19. Laurie your fabric pieces are beautiful! I have not done that inn years! I need to give that a whirl again :-)! Thanks for your inspiration!

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Duh-remind to check spelling BEFORE hitting publish comment next time...what I said WAS:
    They turned out great, Laurie. I guess I need to research and see how overdying is different than just dying something. I have been in a dim closet for way too long! xo Diana

  22. Loving all the pastels. Great idea to bring your old linens back to life :)

  23. Oh they look lovely Laurie!
    I like the idea of multi-tasking too ;)
    Good for you!
    I tried dyeing a lacy-type fabric in the summer time and I went by all the directions only to see that it didnt hold it colour. Ugh!
    It came out the same colour as it was was such a disappointment.
    But I haven't given up yet...just waiting for the right item and I'll try again.
    I love the soft shades pretty and shabby-like ;)

    Deborah xoxo

  24. Cool! That looks fun! I love the way they came out all soft and vintage looking. Time to go thrifting for some sheets and pillow cases i can play with!


  25. Amazing! Love your idea.
    xoxo Vlaďka

  26. What a fun experiment, Laurie! I am loving those gorgeous shades of blue and lavender!

  27. Wow, I really love the first blue fabric! its fun dyeing fabric!! I havent forgotten your pillow Laurie, it is about two third finished and had been for a while. My machine is playing up and I hurt my hand as well as starting another job - i kept my other job going at the same time just in case the new one didnt work out; which it didnt as it happened! wasnt suiting my lifestyle.. so sorry for that Laurie. I will get it to you as soon as I can!!
    Lots of love to you!!
    laura xx

  28. Looks fabulous! I'm going to have to try this.


  29. they came out very pretty, I love the look and feel you are going for! I have some dyes left from my Aqua and Pink ventures, and I adore them still. The pink dress faded a bit and I think I will go now an refresh her. Love the Beauty!

  30. So pretty Laurie!
    I must try this, I love art projects!!

  31. Laurie, I have been wanting to experiment with a pretty lavender dye I bought awhile back, but I have been scared of trying to do it. Thank you so much for this inspirational post on dyeing your linens. They turned out so beautiful! I'm excited to try it now.


  32. Laurie,
    Oh my the gifted win , I love the book and your wrapping presentation was a gift in itself.
    Thank you Laurie for the note card of love, your are a someone special to love.

    Keep inspiring your beauty

  33. Ooop's Laurie,

    ( You are someone special to love ) is what I meant to write in the last comment :)


  34. Hey, so glad you stumbled by, lace is really forgiving when it is over lapped like for the lamp shad. Thank you for the info on dye, I have dabbled a little in the past, but you got me thinking about using it with florals, if I buy white floral sheets, why not make then pink floral sheets...Great job!


  35. Very pretty soft colours! I haven't dyed anything in years. Perhaps it's time to try it again. Have a beautiful week.


  36. You're so brave. I've been wanting to dye my denim slipcovers. They have orange stitching though and I was scared... Maybe someday when they get really faded and I'm ready to replace them I'll give it a try.

  37. I have some pale green sheers that I have been wanting to dye but was afraid..I think I might give this a try!

  38. I've always wanted to try this. maybe some silk scarfs for Christmas.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  39. Just love these Laurie! You've kind of opened up a whole world of possibilities here, gal! Thanks for that! And thank you for sharing at Blissful Whites Wednesday!!

    Have a lovely evening!

  40. I love dying things!! it has been awhile I have to say I absolutely love the heart!!! Thanks for sharing all your lovely pics!

  41. They look great. I am going to have to try this .

  42. Fun project! Thank you for linking up with the Clever Chicks this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  43. I love the Linens !!! The color is Perfect!!

  44. Oh what beautiful soft colors! Very romantic!

  45. Sharing this wonderful idea at the All Star Block Party. You're project has been featured. Thanks.

  46. I have been wanting to try this for so long! I'm so glad you posted about it...I have two liquid bottles of rit in lavender and pink waiting for me!! Your fabrics turned out amazing!!! xoxo


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