Dyeing lingerie fabrics
I am tired of making beige/flesh/taupe/boring underwear and decided to jump right in and make a fully coordinated set in wine-red. I live in a not-very-large city with no shops specialising in bra-making requirements, so to get everything in the same colour I have to buy it mail order - or dye it myself.
I am of a scientific bent, so I took detailed notes during my little experiment for future reference. I started by measuring approximately how much fabric and elastic I would need for 1 bra and 2 panties. Maybe next time I will dye just the fabrics and use elastics in a contrasting colour, because estimating and measuring all the different picots, trims, straps and elastics became a bit tedious. (But if my estimates were right, next time I just need to follow my little list of lengths, so maybe it won’t be so bad.)
For my size (80H) I need the following:
- 2-way stretch lycra for bra: 72 x 112 cm
- 4-way stretch lycra for panties: 38 cm across whole width
- 70 cm band elastic
- 80 cm shoulder strap
- 55 cm cup trim
- 60 cm strap trim (2x this length if wanting to add lace or whatever to both sides of strap) (both optional)
- one bra closure
- 66 cm underwire casing
- 60 cm picot elastic for underarm
- 140 cm leg elastic
- 1 m stretch elastic for waist
- 30 x 40 cm powernet for bra band
- 26 x 18 cm non-stretch bridge lining
- piece of cotton knit for gusset lining
|This is my pile of supplies before I went to the kitchen.|
I used Dylon multipurpose (hot water) dye, colour "Burgundy"; I think in the USA Rit is the same type of dye. Follow the package instructions on mixing.
TIP NO 1. REMEMBER TO WEIGH YOUR PILE BEFORE DUNKING IT IN WATER. (I didn’t, so I had no idea whether I had enough dye for all the fabric. I did do it after dyeing and drying, and the total is 450 g, which is almost double the recommended weight. Mmmm.)
TIP NO 2. HAND WASH AND RINSE ALL THE FABRICS AND TRIMS BEFORE YOU EVEN START MIXING UP THE DYE. Dry fabric dyes unevenly, and finishes on the new fabrics may cause dye not to react properly with fabric. (Hey, I did remember to do this one!)
TIP NO 3. DON’T FOLD THE FABRIC. Water and dye may not penetrate right through the fabric if it folded up neatly, even if you stir. Unfold the fabric BEFORE washing. (Yep, I kept mine neatly folded...)
TIP NO 4. WEAR GLOVES. Even if you think you will be working carefully, you will end up with purple blue or black fingers and nails if you don't! I know!!!
TIP NO 5. PUT WET FABRIC INTO DYE POT. DRY FABRIC DYES UNEVENLY. (Also see Tip No 3 above.)
TIP NO 6. PUT LITTLE BITS LIKE BOWS INTO A MESH OR ORGANZA BAG. Otherwise they get lost when you rinse the fabrics after dyeing (down the drain) OR you forget some in the dye pot and they come out in different shades. (Yes, also learned the hard way...)
TIP NO 7. PUT HARD-TO-DYE THINGS IN FIRST. This is something I want to try out next time. Today, I put in everything at the same time, so I had to fish things out of the boiling liquid as they reached the desired colour. In my batch, the following were hard to dye:
- shoulder straps
- stretch laces
- non-stretch bridge lining
- bra closure
TIP NO 8. DON’T PUT COTTON IN UNTIL LAST, AS IT SEEMS TO ACT LIKE A DYE MAGNET.
The first things to reach desired depth of colour were, in the following order:
- cotton gusset fabric
- narrow picot elastic
- band elastic
- fold-over elastic
- shiny lycra
That’s about it. Most of the fabrics and trims dyed very nicely, although I was a bit disappointed with the stretch lace performance. I hurriedly put in a length of a different trim after seeing that my first choice – narrow stretch lace – came out fuchsia instead of burgundy. The Tactel lining surprised by dyeing well, while a swatch of stretch tricot lining didn’t dye at all (so must be polyester, not nylon).
|The piece of tulle lace dyed in the embroidered areas (probably viscose)|
while the tulle didn’t change colour much.
I’m looking forward to working with these nice “new” fabrics!
For another description of dyeing lingerie fabrics, see this post on Beverly Johnson’s blog.