Rosie the Riveter Costume

September 24 2018
Nothing says Halloween like a bit of time travel. Take it back to the ’40s as the oh-so-empowering Rosie the Riveter. In collaboration with Kristen of @gulushthreads, we were able to make this costume come to life easily with a button down and some cotton fabric.
Supplies
  • White Cotton Fabric for Bandana (or Old Bandana)
  • Rit DyeMore Dye for Synthetics (Sapphire Blue)
  • Rit All-Purpose Dye (Cherry Red)
  • Button-Down Shirt
  • Stainless Steel Pot
  • Salt
  • Dish Detergent
  • Plastic Gloves
  • Plastic Table Cover
  • Paper Towels
  • Tongs
  • Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative
Time
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Difficulty
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Instructions
  1. Cover work area with plastic table cover and have paper towels handy to protect against any possible spills. Gather supplies. 
  2. For best results, prewash shirt and fabric to remove any finishes that may interfere with dye absorption. Leave damp.

To dye the shirt:

  1. Kristen used Rit DyeMore Dye for Synthetics because the shirt she wanted to dye was synthetic (i.e. contained more than 35% polyester). However, this could also be done with Rit All-Purpose Dye if the shirt is made with a natural fabric (i.e. cotton, linen or silk).
  2. Wearing rubber gloves, fill steel pot with 3 gallons of very hot water. Heat water on stove to an almost boil. Temperature should ideally be 200ºF or greater. Maintain temperature for duration of dyeing.
  3. Add one bottle of Sapphire Blue to dyebath.
  4. To enhance the color, add 1 teaspoon of dish detergent to help promote level dyeing.
  5. Immerse shirt in dyebath.
  6. Stir slowly and continuously. The first 10 minutes are the most critical. The shirt can remain in dyebath from 10 minutes up to 30 minutes. When desired color is achieved, remove from dyebath. Shirt will look darker when wet and will dry lighter. Squeeze out excess dye. 
  7. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.
  8. Wash in warm water with mild detergent, rinse and dry.

To dye the fabric for the bandana: 

  1. If using old bandana that isn’t white, remove color first with Rit Color Remover.
  2. Wearing rubber gloves, fill a large container or stainless steel sink with 3 gallons of very hot water. The water should ideally be 140ºF. If tap water is not hot enough, heat water on the stove and add to the dyebath.
  3. Add 1/2 bottle of Cherry Red to dyebath.
  4. To enhance the color, add one cup of salt. Add 1 teaspoon of dish detergent to help promote level dyeing.
  5. Test color by dipping a paper towel into the dyebath. If color is too light, add more dye. If color is too dark, add more water.
  6. Immerse fabric in dyebath. Stir slowly and continuously. The first 10 minutes are the most critical. Stirring helps to ensure an even color with no splotches.
  7. The fabric can remain in dyebath from 10 minutes up to one hour. When desired color is achieved, remove from dyebath. Fabric will look darker when wet and will dry lighter. Squeeze out excess dye.
  8. We recommend using Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative immediately after dyeing and before washing to enhance color, increase color retention and prevent dye from bleeding into white areas. Follow these package instructions.
  9. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.
  10. Wash in warm water with mild detergent, rinse and dry.
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