Monday, February 6, 2017

Dyeing Bra Making Fabrics and Notions

One of the trickier parts of bra making is collecting all your supplies and findings.  There's a lot of different little pieces!  And even if you have all the components you need, getting them all to match is a whole other beast.

This is not to say that everything has to be exactly the same color when making lingerie.  Sometimes contrasting colors can be really fun!  For example, I love love love this Watson bra set by Cloth Habit:

But if you do want your project to be one color, there's another way, rather than scouring the internet and ordering tons of swatches.

You can dye it!

I recently had such success with dyeing lingerie fabrics and notions, and I just had to share how easy it was!

First things first, here are some quick rules to ensure success.

1.  It's best to go into this without high expectations!  If you have your heart set on a very specific shade or you're trying to perfectly match the color of something else, this will probably be a more stressful process.  Personally, I just wanted to try dyeing in general, so I just picked a shade of purple and decided to see what happens!

2.  Pick the right kind of dye.  Natural and synthetic fibers take dye differently, so choose accordingly.

3.  Watch the heat.  Synthetic materials (which is what most lingerie fabrics and findings are made of) are best dyed on the stovetop, because they really need heat to help them take the dye.  And on a stovetop, you can control the heat a lot more than with a washing machine.  Plus, you can vary the heat depending on what you're dyeing and adjust as you go along.

Without further ado, here's the play by play of my dyeing experience!

I started with stretch lace, power mesh, foldover elastic, plush back strap elastic, rings, sliders, and a hook & eye bra back.  (You can buy everything here in a bralette kit!)  Most of them were true white, but the stretch lace was technically ivory. They're all different combinations of nylon, polyester, polyamid, and spandex, but they're all 100% synthetic, so I chose an iDye Poly, rather than regular iDye.  The instructions mention that if you're dyeing a natural/synthetic combo, you can mix both types of dye.

Inside the packaging are the instructions, dye packet, and a little thing of "color intensifier."  I don't really know what the color intensifier is, but I threw it in anyway.

Honestly, waiting for the water soluable packet of dye to dissolve was the part of this process that took the longest!

The white, milky looking bits are the color intensifier.

Eventually, it all gets mixed together, and then you feel like a badass witch brewing a potion.  This is probably a good time to mention that you shouldn't try cooking with the utensils or the pot that you've used to dye.  Also note that your tools may end up dyed or stained themselves.

Finally, it's time to start actually dyeing!  BUT FIRST:  Make sure you've gotten your fabric and notions all nice and wet.  This will help them absorb the dye evenly, so you don't get a tie-dye look. It may also rinse away any chemical sizing that could affect your results.

I decided to dye my fabrics first, and then my notions.  I didn't want the pot to get too crowded.  But I actually don't even have a picture of dyeing my fabric, because it happened SO FAST.  I threw the stretch lace and the power mesh in there, and it was literally done in an instant.

So I took out the fabrics, gave them a quick cold water rinse, and then left them in the sink while I dyed the notions.  I have a stainless steel sink, so I wasn't too worried about dyeing it on accident.

I put the elastics into the pot, as well as the hook & eye bra back.  I saved the rings and sliders for later, which I'll talk about in a sec.

The elastics took a bit longer than the fabric, but it was still pretty quick.  Like five minutes, tops.  I made sure to keep stirring them around while I waited for the dye to sink in.

Now's a good time to talk about how not everything will dye exactly the same.  The hook & eye bra back has a lot of different materials in there.  It's got the plush back fabric, another tricot-like fabric on the front, and the metal in the hooks and eyes.  This one was technically a bra back "repair," so it also had a piece of elastic on the hook side, which I've shown below.  You can see how not everything will dye at the same pace.  Some fabrics are just more resistant than others.

Once the elastics had gotten to a similar saturation as the fabrics, I took them out and also let them sit in the sink.  Fun fact:  I had completely forgotten about the bra back piece, so that was just sitting in the pot while I did this next bit.  I'm lucky it didn't melt or anything!  😬

I still hadn't dyed the rings and sliders yet, but I knew that would take more time and attention, so first I decided to fully rinse out my fabrics and elastics.  Immediately after taking them out of the dye bath, I had given them a cold water rinse until the water was clear.  Then I filled the sink with warm water and Soak Wash.  I let the notions and the fabrics sit in there while I did the next step.

It's hard to take a visually pleasing picture of your kitchen sink...

So as I've hinted at, dyeing the rings and sliders requires a bit more attention, mainly because they're little and more delicate.  All synthetic materials are prone to melting, but these little nylon coated hardware pieces can also crack if they get too hot.  And because they're so tiny, I didn't want to just throw them in a big pot with dark purple water.  They'd A) just get lost in there and B) probably get stuck to the bottom of a hot stockpot.

Luckily, I had this little tool hiding in my kitchen drawers!  (Why did I buy this originally?  What is its intended purpose?)

Using this little strainer, I carefully dipped the sliders and rings in the dye bath until they reached a saturation similar to the fabric and elastics.

I would dip it in for like a minute and then pull it out to check.  I also shook them around in there a little just to make sure everything got evenly dyed.  This took longer to dye than anything else, but it's worth the extra effort so that you don't ruin them!

After I was satisfied with the rings and sliders, I laid everything out to dry.  I put a towel under my drying rack just in case, but the drips had very little dye still in there.  Yay!

After I hung all that up, I emptied my dye bath, which is when I discovered the hook & eye bra back piece was still in there this whole time.  Whoops!

I set the hook & eyes down along with the rings and sliders on some paper towels to dry.

I let it all dry overnight, and the next morning, I was thrilled to find that everything turned out so beautifully!

Pictures just don't do it justice.  It's such a rich, electric violet with strong blue undertones.

All in all, I was thrilled!  And this whole process took me less than an hour!  Super easy + quick + beautiful results = a real winner.

Soon, these purple pretties will become a bralette!  Stay tuned... ;)


  1. Wow, that is fantastic!! Thank you for the tips on using the dye. I am definitely going to pick up a spare pot for dying fabric only, at the local thrift shop.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jen! I almost threw away that ancient, grungy stock pot, but now I'm super glad I didn't!

  2. I find adding salt to the dyestock when trying to dye the rings and sliders really helps.

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