Cardigans for Spring

It's about this time of the year that I get tired of everything in my closet and need a shopping fix. I've also been stuck in a black and grey color scheme since November, so I'm craving bright colors. Thanks to a few bottles of RIT and 3 worn-out cardigans, I'm feeling much better about my spring wardrobe!!
(Wallace cardigan, Old Navy top, XXI ring, vintage bracelet)
My stovetop instructions are a little more lax than the RIT bottle. I learned how to dye when I interned for Betsey Johnson, where I spent most of my days hovered over the stovetop mixing various shades of pink! I learned from the previous intern and it went something like this "a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a pinch of salt." If you're new to dyeing, my biggest piece of advice is to start with something that you're ready to part with. That way you aren't heartbroken if it doesn't go well. And remember, you can always dye it black!
Here's what you need:
1. Rit Dye (on the laundry aisle at most grocery stores)
2. Item of clothing you're dyeing
3. Spoon for stirring (I like to use tongs)
4. A pot that you will never, ever use for food again (mine's a cheap one from Wal-Mart)
5. Salt
6. Paper towels/old dish towels/Clorox wipes
7. Rubber Gloves (I always forget these and regret it!)
1. Wet your fabric. I like to do this in the pot I'm using so I know how much water I need. Fill your pot so that the fabric moves freely.
2. Ring out your clothing and set it aside while you prepare the dye bath.
(You can also do this step in the sink or a bucket)
3. Bring dye bath to simmer. I've never weighed and measured but the bottle says "use 1/2 bottle dye to 3 gallons water for each pound dry fabric. For dark or bright colors double dye quantity. Add 1 cup salt to dyebath for cotton, rayon, ramie, linen, or blends." For this 100% cotton cardigan, which started out cream, I used 1/2 bottle of Scarlet Red and a splash of Rose Pink (now called Petal Pink) with a handful of salt.
4. Always test your dye out with a paper towel or a scrap of fabric in case you need to tweak the color. You can always add more dye if you want it darker or more water if you want it lighter.
5. Immerse clothing in dye bath and stir continuously until you like the color. I stirred the cardigans for about 10 minutes (longer if you want a more saturated color.) The color always appears lighter when it's dry so don't be scared.
6. Transfer the pot to the sink and remove the clothing from the dye bath. Make sure there is nothing else in your sink!! Squeeze out excess dye and rinse in warm water, then gradually cooler water until the water runs clear. Then wash in warm water with mild detergent, rinse, and hang to dry.
A few things: always check your fabric content (this was 100% cotton so it died evenly and true to color. Any synthetic blends like spandex, acrylic, polyester, ETC. will affect the color and evenness. You can see that the stitching on the buttons and buttonholes didn't take the dye, which might also be the case for threads around zippers and necklines...
For this green cardigan (an old white one from Old Navy) I used 1/4 bottle of Kelly Green (all I had left) and a splash of Dark Green. You can see that the stitching and buttonholes also stayed white on this one...
(Old Navy cardigan and Club Monaco blouse-I can't wait to wear this with my white jeans!!)
This cardigan started out light brown and I was hoping for black. The blend is 70% cotton, 20% nylon, 10% silk. I used almost an entire bottle of Black Rit and it turned out a dark grey/brown (hard to tell in the picture.) I really like the color, but this is a good example of it not turning out like you intended! (Another bottle of black probably would have done the trick.) I took off the brown tortoise shell buttons before dyeing it and sewed on gold buttons after it was dry.
(Gap cardigan, Gap T, various charms)
*RIT is not recommended for 100% polyester, acrylic, or fabrics with special finishes, rubber-backing, cold water wash, or labeled Dry Clean Only. If in doubt, dye a swatch.

**Always wash dyed items separately in the washing machine. Learned that the hard way!

(Check out more dyeing tips from Ritdye.com and Lucky Magazine)

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