During quarantine, it’s been fun getting creative and trying new DIY projects. One of the projects that I tried this month was using dye to make a white Dollcake dress pink. If you follow my work, you’ll know I’m obsessed with Dollcake’s beautiful gown designs for girls and now a women’s line. The high quality materials and beautiful designs are so unique and help bring a smile to my client’s faces (and mine!).
I ordered the dress for this project online and was once again so happy with it’s quality and design, but wished that it was a cute color instead of white. I already had a bottle of RIT all purpose dye in the shade Rose Quartz, so I decided to give it a go.
**This is the Dollcake’s stock image for this beautiful design
The first step was to fill the plastic tub with water. I was using a 30 gallon plastic tub from the hardware store. The one great thing about Arizona summers is that it’s already so hot outside that I knew the water wasn’t going to cool down out there and the dye would stay activated. I placed the tub on my back deck before filling which made it easier and more convenient to fill from my kitchen. I filled the tub about three quarters full and then added 2 pots of boiling water just to top it off.
Next, I poured in the full bottle of dye, because it was a large volume of water. Because the dress is so full, it needed a lot of water so that it could more around freely in the dye bath for consistent color.
I used plastic gloves and a metal kitchen utensil for stirring the fabric in the dye. Once I had poured the dye and stirred it around, I did some practice strips of white fabric and tulle. The dress was 100% Polyester, but I decided to just go with the All Purpose Dye anyway even though it’s not recommended for synthetics.
I also used my phone’s timer to time how long the test swatches were in the dye bath. The tulle dyed a lot faster – around 4 minutes, while the white fabric swatch needed a lot more time – 7 – 8 minutes. Based on this result, I knew the bodice of the dress was going to take longer to dye and potentially be lighter than the mesh skirt which would act similarly to the tulle swatch. This ended up being a correct assumption.
I dyed the sash that came with the dress first. It was white with white tulle flowers and pearls. I stirred it and made sure to keep the ends submerged. When I pulled it out, I was very happy with the result, especially with the tulle flowers. It looked so much cuter pink!
Finally, it was time to do the full dress. I said a prayer and took a deep breath and plunged the dress carefully into the dye bath (while carefully keeping the plastic wrapped tags out of the dye). I put on the timer and stirred it around, making sure that the bodice of the dress was fully submurged. The water was HOT. I was definitely sweating while I was trying to do this, haha. Periodically I would pull out the dress and check the saturation of color. The mesh was taking on color way faster. at around 8 minutes, I pulled out the bottom of the dress and tried to put just the bodice part (as accurately as I could) into the dye. I held it in for another 2 -3 minutes. Then, I hung it up over some towels and a tarp to prevent staining and leaking on my decking. It worked perfectly and since it was so hot and dry outside, the dress dried very quickly.
I was worried the bodice wouldn’t be saturated enough, but I’m actually really happy with how it turned out. The skirt is a beautiful watermelon pink color and the top has a more subtle, beautiful pink shine. The sash matches perfectly and the dress now looks like it was made pink and not dyed from white! Also, I was able to keep the tags in tact, which helps with the collector’s value of these beautiful Australian designed gowns.
I am so happy to have added this dress to my Meg&Me client wardrobe and can’t wait to photograph it.
My biggest take away from this experience is that sometimes it’s worth it to just go for it and try something, but also do so strategically – being able to use the test fabrics in the dye first really helped me feel confident with my dye project. Also, the preparation from my last project helped me know how to do this one efficiently and without tons of mess to clean up.
I hope you will try out your own dye project and see how easy and fun it can be!