Overdyed Blue Jeans

November 27 2017

Learn how to overdye your jeans with Rit. These jeans started out as traditional blue jeans. You can use new jeans or jeans that are slightly faded or worn. To turn them into dark colored jeans, we overdyed them using Rit All-Purpose dye. When overdyeing, the blue color of the jeans mixes with the dye color to create a new color. Be sure to apply the color mixing rules!

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  1. Cover work surface with a plastic cover. Gather supplies.
  2. The jeans featured in the photo were purchased from Old Navy. The fiber content was 86% cotton, 13% polyester, 1% elastane. Jeans with a high percentage of cotton will dye the best. When overdyeing jeans, you can use new jeans or jeans that may be lightly faded or worn.
  3. To determine how much dye to use, weigh the dry jeans on a food scale or estimate the weight. These jeans weighed just over one pound (16.5 ounces). As a general guideline, 1/2 cup (half bottle) of liquid dye will color up to 16 ounces of dry weight fabric. To achieve a dark, more intense color, we suggest doubling the dye so 1 bottle of dye was used for each pair of jeans.
  4. Choose the color of Rit All-Purpose dye needed to achieve the dark color you want. We did all the experimenting for you. For Dark Grey, use 1 bottle Charcoal. For Dark Green, use 1 bottle + 1/4 cup Kelly Green. For Dark Blue, use 1/2 cup Navy Blue and 1/2 cup Denim Blue. For Dark Red, use 1 bottle Scarlet.
  5. For best results, prewash jeans in the washing machine before dyeing. This removes any manufacturer’s finishes that may interfere with dye absorption. If jeans are washed just before dyeing, leave them wet. If jeans have been worn and are clean, just wet them in warm water.
  6. Fill dye container with 3 gallons very hot water (140F). Note: If water is not hot enough, heat some water in a cook pot to boiling and add to dye container.
  7. Dye Preparation: Shake dye bottle before pouring. Wearing rubber gloves, pour dye into the water. Then measure 1 cup salt dissolved with 2 cups hot water; add to dye bath. (Salt helps to intensify the color.) Then add a squirt of dish washing liquid and stir well.
  8. Test dye color to be sure you are satisfied. Dip swatch of white fabric or a paper towel into dye bath. If color is too light, add more dye. If color is too dark, add more water.
  9. Immerse wet jeans in dye bath and stir continuously for 20 minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, move jeans back and forth and up and down. This helps to ensure an even color. Tongs are also helpful for lifting. Continue to stir jeans occasionally for 10 minutes or until desired color is achieved (up to one hour). The longer the jeans remain in the dye bath, the darker the color will be. Color will appear lighter when dry.
  10. To help reduce color bleeding and improve color retention, treat jeans with Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative immediately after dyeing and before rinsing. Follow package instructions. Remove jeans from dye bath and squeeze out excess dye. Fill container with 3 gallons hot water and add 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) dye fixative; stir well. Immerse jeans in fixative, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove jeans and rinse in cold water until water begins to run clear. Then machine wash jeans with an old towel in warm water with mild detergent, rinse and dry. If desired, iron to remove excess wrinkles.

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