Dyeing for a new color

fabric dyeJulie emails:

I recently purchased a house in Albany that came with custom drapes. I like drapes and plan to use them, but I'm not too fond of the color. My plan was to roll up my sleeves, and give it the old girl scout try, and dye them.
After doing a little research, it quickly became painfully obvious to me that this would be a job way outside of the scope of anything I was prepared for or capable of. What my research basically turned up is that I'd be better off buying new drapes than trying to recolor the old ones myself with all of the stuff I would have to buy. But, I would still like to try and get them dyed.
My question is this: Does anybody know of anyone who I could take these drapes to, to be dyed for a small fee?

We're stumped. Got any ideas? Please share.

photo: Flickr user Dominic's pics


Try contacting the Art Center for the Capital Region in Troy. They have fiber artists on the faculty and some are experienced dyers (of wool, silk, other natural fibers). Someone may or may not be interested in taking on the job. However, it's important to know the kind of fabric it is--some synthetic fabrics don't take dye well. I don't know whether there are other people in the area that might do commercial dyeing on a larger scale.

I'm all for reuse of existing materials, but this one may not be worth the effort. And I bet it wouldn't be a "small fee" given the cost of good quality dye and the amount of fabric to be dyed. They'd have to be awfully fabulous drapes to go to this much trouble.

how about places that dye wedding shoes? I think there is some little indy shoe store on Central that still does it, but maybe call the Delmar Bootery and ask them if they do it or if they know who does?

I know for sure DSW does (having been the unfortunate consumer of a pair of evergreen satin bridesmaid pumps) but don't know if they'd hook a girl up...

I see quite a few problems here...
You need to know exactly the material of the drapes. This is necessary to chose the right process and the dye. Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and wool are the easiest to dye because of their porous structure and chemical properties of fibers. But the drapes are usually made of synthetic stuff which can be... well... draped, but not easily dyed. Syntetic fibers are not porous, they are compact, smooth and barely absorb any water. It really takes quite a lot of effort to force dye into synthetic fibers. They usually require quite harsh treatment like long-term boiling with some caustic chemicals to be dyed. It's easier to ruin the fabric than get the color you want. But once you get the dye onto the fabric it's not easy to remove it so bleaching is out of question here. And if you put one dye on the top of another the result will be unpredictable, unless you want them black, of course!

And I can only imagine the mess it will involve....

I've been wondering this same thing about a bridesmaid dress I have. The dress itself is a decent cut and I'd probably wear it if it were, say, black, and not pastel. (Ladies, you know what I'm talking about.)

I spent more on it than I spend on most dresses that I actually like, so it seems like a waste to just wear it once.

I've been thinking of just trying RIT dye but I'm concerned for the same reasons as Julie.

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