Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The DIY dye job

No, not hair! I learned that lesson a long time ago. All it takes is one "walk of shame" to the salon with all your hair shoved under a hat... Anyways, onward!

I've written a couple posts lately about how I've been DIYing it with my dull-ish tank tops, trying to make them class-worthy again. With the two tank tops I've slashed up, I'd like to think I've succeeded. All of sudden though, I had a little aha moment and something became very clear. You see, Zumba makes sports bras too which are just as bright and colorful as anything else they sell. If you'd like to see an example from their new line for fall, click here. I've always wondered why they go to the trouble, when it's just going to be hidden under a tank top. Okay...yes, the girls in the pictures modeling them don't have anything on over it. I always just assumed that was so potential customers could more easily see the product. Thinking about it, there are probably people who just normally go to class dressed that way. Are any of them in the classes I've taken? That's a big negatory. So it didn't hit me until I slashed up my grey top and then put it on over a sports bra. Ding! Aha. Got it: something bright and colorful underneath shows through the slashing.

Well now, who'd like to take a shot at this multiple choice question:

What color are the sports bras in the Zumbamommy's closet?
A) Light grey
B) Medium grey
C) Dark grey
D) One or more of each of the above

Not exactly bright and colorful choices are they? But I don't want to go out and buy all new sports bras when these work just fine. That's a waste of money in my opinion; sorry Zumbawear. I've said before that I have a love/hate relationship with the online store. My sense of style loves it, my wallet doesn't. So here's one of the light grey ones. Pretty plain. Actually, the word "pretty" shouldn't be applied at all. Very plain.

So... Who out there has heard of Rit? If you have, then I think you can guess where this is going, and you'd be right. If you haven't, check it out some time. But before I started simmering sports bras on my stove, I did a little research. Can you dye a sports bra? It depends on what it's made out of. If the whole thing is spandex, then no, Rit won't adhere to the fibers. Polyester is the same way, they are man-made fibers. Some man-made fibers will take Rit dye, just not those two. On the other hand, natural fibers like cotton soak up dye like a sponge with no problems. I also found out that if the material is a blend, and that blend is -mostly- cotton with only a little nylon and/or spandex, you can do it. The color might not be as deep as it otherwise could have been, but you can do it. So I went upstairs to check and see what my sports bras are mostly made of. Of all of them in the style you see above, only one still had a label with any readable care instructions. Yeah, I've had most of these a while but they've held up just the same. One was all I needed though. 90% cotton, with some nylon and some spandex but whatever percentages those are, I couldn't read 'em. 90% cotton? Excellent...cue the Mr. Burns voice and hands...

Now I just happen to have some Rit hanging around the house. I don't remember from what. Hey, I'm weird, of course there's going to be Rit in my house. Heh. Two colors, purple and...kelly green? Wha? I didn't think I was -that- weird... Does anyone out there know why I'd need kelly green dye for anything? No? Figured I'd ask since I sure don't know! So purple it is. Reading the instructions, it says to use half a bottle (4 fluid oz) to every three gallons of water. Three gallons! Even if I were to dye every single one of these at once, I still wouldn't need three gallons. I just wanted to do one as a trial, on my stove. Time for some math. Thanks to some measurement conversions and ratios, I learned that with four cups of water, I'd need roughly 6 teaspoons of dye.

Dye mixed with water...done and done, and into the pot went the sports bra. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Five minutes in, I added 1 fluid oz of white vinegar. A tip I read on the Rit website said to add a half cup when dealing with nylon. I presume that's for the giant three gallon amount so I used what I thought was an appropriate amount for my small scale project. I suppose the vinegar makes sense. If you've ever colored Easter eggs, the little tablets give the most vibrant color when dissolved in vinegar. The Rit bottle said stir constantly, but I mostly just poked it with tongs every two minutes. After I thought it looked okay in the pot, I dumped it into the sink and started rinsing.
The instructions said rinse until there's only clear water, -then- wash the item(s) in the washing machine. Rinsing until the water runs clear takes for...ev...er... I can't imagine how long a larger item would have taken me. I was rinsing this thing in the kitchen sink for almost 20 minutes. Blarg. When I -finally- took it into the laundry room, I put it in a bowl. I figured I didn't want drips on my floor in case there was still some purple water in that sports bra.

After It was done in the washing machine, I pulled it out and hung it up to dry. Usually I throw these in the dryer when I do a whole load of laundry, but I figured that in this case the fibers had been through enough heat for one day. And also, running the dryer for just this one thing seemed a bit much. Sooo... What does everyone think? Better than grey right? The color turned out darker than I expected. Based on what I'd read about the man-made fibers in the material repelling the dye, I thought it would be lighter. I'm very pleased with it though. The color is going to pop underneath one of my cut-up tank tops. Now, I need to buy some more colors of dye. A bottle of Rit is generally around $4. I could get five different colors of dye for the cost of a single Zumba brand sports bra...that is on sale... I told Bry about my little project and his comment was, "Why stop with the bras?" Huh? What else would I dye... Oh, the rest of those dull-ish tank tops. I'll have to consider that seriously. Maybe the brown ones can be salvaged after all.

Best advice: If you're going to attempt this too, here's a tip. Those little plastic cups that always come with bottles of allergy medication have lines up to 3 or 4 tsp. Save your good measuring spoon set! Use one of those. I have sooo many of those things hanging around in a drawer, one of the side effects of having kids with allergies.

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