How to Dye Pearl Buttons

Written by katherine harder
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How to Dye Pearl Buttons
Die your pearl buttons grey using a black or grey commercial dye. (black pearl image by OMKAR A.V from

Pearl buttons add flair to clothing and fabric decor items, but sometimes the buttons become discoloured over time, or the objects to which they are attached become damaged and the pearl buttons you save from the discarded objects don't match anything else you own. You can save these small accessories by dying the pearl buttons to correct mild discolouration or to match the pearl buttons to a clothing item or other object.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Scissors or seam ripper
  • Heat safe container
  • Hot water
  • Coffee filter
  • Funnel
  • Commercial dye, such as Rit dye or Tintex dye
  • Stirring stick
  • Needle and thread

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  1. 1

    Remove any pearl buttons from the clothing or other objects to which they are attached. Use a small pair of scissors or a seam ripper to snip the buttons free from their attaching threads.

  2. 2

    String your buttons onto a thread using a needle through each pearl button's button hole. Tie the ends of the string together to create a threaded loop of pearl buttons that you can easily dip into your dye solution.

  3. 3

    Fill your container two-thirds full with hot water.

  4. 4

    Place your coffee filter over the mouth of your funnel. Place the tube of the funnel into your container's mouth. Pour the dye into the filter slowly, allowing it to filter through the paper, into the funnel and down into the container. Filtering the dye prevents spotting and speckling on your dyed pearls.

  5. 5

    Stir the mixture well, and dip the string of pearl buttons into the dye solution. Swish the buttons around inside the solution to make sure the pearl buttons are evenly coloured with dye.

  6. 6

    Allow bleached pearl buttons to steep for shorter periods than unbleached pearl buttons. You'll need to steep your faux pearl buttons longer than any other type, since they are the least porous. Periodically use your stirring stick to catch your threaded loop and pull your pearl buttons out of the solution to check on the pearl button's progress. Allow them to steep for as long as necessary to achieve the colour intensity you want.

Tips and warnings

  • Since some dye pigments, especially blue and purple tones, change colour when exposed to light, use a test pearl with these dyes first, and expose it to bright light to check for changes. This will help you avoid ruining your pearl buttons.

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