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How to dip dye a wedding dress

Updated November 21, 2016

Dip dying adds personality to your wedding dress. You can dip dye with one colour, or multiple colours -- creating an ombré or gradated effect. This can also help tie together the colour palette of the wedding. Dip dyeing takes practice and concentration -- and there is little room for error -- because wedding dresses are not typically cheap.

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  1. Practice on a scrap piece of fabric, as close to the fabric of the dress, as possible. Practicing first, gives you an idea of how the fabric reacts to the dye. You can gain insight into timing, and the amount of dye needed to achieve the colour that you want.

  2. Pick a dye that works with the fabric of your dress. Wedding dresses are often made from delicate fabrics, and many are dryclean only. It is crucial that you use a dye that is least likely to harm the fabric of your wedding dress. For example, a dye like Procion works with silk charmeuse, while RIT dye is not recommended for dryclean only fabrics.

  3. Fill a large container or bucket with hot water from the bathtub. You can also use your sink, but dye can harm some finishes, and using a disposable container, or one that you do not need to worry about will make it easier on you.

  4. Add calsolene oil. The calsolene oil helps create even dyeing. Use one half of a teaspoon per gallon of water.

  5. Add the dye to the water. Use your previous findings, in Step One -- or the directions, as a guide. Stir the dye mixture using the wooden paint stick.

  6. Stir in vinegar and salt. The vinegar acts as a safe fixer for silk. It helps the Procion dye -- and other fibre-reactive dyes -- permanently bond with the fabric. You can also use baking soda as a fixer for silk, while soda ash is used on many other types of fabric. Use one ounce of fixer per gallon of water. Salt supports the dyeing process, by helping the dye stick to the fabric. Add one cup of salt for every gallon of water.

  7. Dip the dress into the dye, up to the point where you want the colour to begin. The gradated effect from dip dyeing, usually goes from light to dark. Leave the fabric in the dye for a few minutes.

  8. Once the colour starts to change, gradually lift out an inch or two of the dress, every couple of minutes.

  9. If you want a more obvious contrast in colour -- take out bigger sections of the dress -- every five minutes. You can also add stronger dye solution to the water, each time you remove a portion of the dress, in order to further enhance the colour.

  10. Rinse the wedding dress in cold water. After you pull the hem of the dress out of the dye mixture, rinse the dress under cold water until it runs clear.

  11. Wash the dress in warm water. After washing, hang the dress and let it dry.

  12. Tip

    Always use gloves and protect your clothes when handling dye. You can reverse the dip dyeing process, by adding more dress and water to the dye mixture, little by little. This method starts with the darkest colour and the bottom and then gets lighter as you add each little portion of the dress to the mixture. Start with a clean wedding dress to achieve the best results.


    Blue dyes do not work very well with silk.

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Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Fabric dye
  • Vinegar or baking soda
  • Salt
  • Paint stick
  • Calsolene oil

About the Author

Marissa Poulson has been a freelance journalist since 2009. Her arts and entertainment reviews can be found in The Examiner. Poulson holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Arizona State University.

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