Dyeing your corset: a step-by-step guide

Dyeing your corset: a step-by-step guide

Looking for the perfect corset to complete a costume, but haven't found anything quite right yet? One of our dyeable corsets, now available in both our original, Dyeable Corset (TUB-252), and hourglass silhouetteDyeable Corset Hourglass (TUR-252) may be the perfect solution. The all cotton construction takes dye beautifully and makes for an excellent base for further embellishment. For step-by-step instructions on how we recommend dyeing these corsets, read on!

Step 1: Gather your tools and materials. You will need...

  • 1) Timeless Trends dyeable corset

  • 2) Large plastic or metal container for dyeing (stainless steel sinks work well). This needs to be large enough to hold about 10 quarts of liquid as well as your corset without overflowing.

  • 3) Old towels or towels you don't mind being spotted with dye (1-3 for clean up)

  • 4) Measuring cup

  • 5) Tablespoon

  • 6) Salt*

  • 7) Dye for natural fabrics, specifically plant fibers: cotton, rayon, linen

  • 8) Gloves: Some dyes will stain your skin and many are eye and skin irritants that can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. It's best to avoid both problems and don a set of gloves before beginning.

  • 9) Optional: Additional decorations (stencils, paints, crystals, flowers, lace.... anything your heart desires). Please note that these instructions do not go over applying additional embelishments in any detail.

  • 10) Optional: Satin ribbon in a matching color with which to relace your corset. You'll want a continuous (uncut) length of at least 7 yards. We recommend a ribbon width of at least 5/8 of an inch; however, wider ribbon can give an extra luxurious appearance!

  • 11) Optional: Netflix, cable, or something to entertain you while you work

Tips:

1)*Different brands of dye, or even different types of dye from the same brand, may have you add something else to the mix, different quantities of add-ins, or nothing at all, so please read your dye's mixing instructions carefully. These add ins may be to increase the fabric's dye absorption, creating more evenly colored results, or as a mordant to "fix" the final color in place. In this case the salt is acting to increase the fabric's dye absorption.

2) Rit, Dylon and iDye are the most common dyes you will find in your craft stores. We prefer Dylon for its color intensity.

3) DO NOT do this on carpet or use your best towels, unless you are okay with the prospect of these being permanently spotted with dye. We recommend kitchen or bathroom floors, surfaces that are easy to clean and not prone to stains.

4) WE DO NOT recommend the washing machine dyeing process that Rit and Dylon provide. Not only does it not give you much control over the intensity of the color, the agitation of the washing machine can cause damage to your corset.

5) Having a couple of other plastic tubs around or additional towels helps if you need to set a corset aside while changing dyes. If you're planning to dye your corset a single, solid color you probably won't need these; however, if you plan to try any of the more advanced dyeing techniques towards the end of this post, the extra supplies may come in handy.

Step 2: Prepping your corset

  • 1) Fill your large container with warm to hot water. You'll want about 10 quarts.

  • 2) Unwrap your corset and remove the laces*

  • 3) Soak both halves of your corset in the clean hot water until the fabric of the corset is fully saturated.

  • 4) Remove corset and set aside, but don't let it dry out.

Tips:

1) *The laces are a cotton-polyester blend, and do not hold the dye well. If you'd like matching laces we recommend re-lacing with satin ribbons which are prettier, come in a wide variety of colors, and are stocked in plentiful supply at many local craft stores.

2) There is no need to wash your corset before dyeing.

Step 3: Choosing your dyes

While you've already picked out the color (or colors) of dye at the store (unless you like to dye clothing or fabric regularly and have a stockpile of color options at home), now is the time to decide on the intensity of color or mix of colors you'd like. You can mix dyes (follow the dye's instructions on mixing colors. This could mean mixing the powders or liquids together directly or mixing the dyes separately into water before blending colors) to get the desired color, layer the dye by dyeing in stages (dye the corset one color, then dye it another color afterwards), or change up the intensity of a single color by playing with the proportion of dye to water. To make a color look "vintage", you can use iDye "Ecru" or "Brown" to tone down the intensity of a color. See the Special dyeing techniques and effects for more information on how to do this.

Step 4: Mixing your Dyes

WARNING!!! Avoid contact with the dye! Many dyes are eye and skin irritants and can cause allergic reactions (itching and rash) in sensitive people.

You can follow the "basin" or "sink" dyeing protocols on the Dye package. Because we used Dylon to dye the sample corset the details below are for the Dylon procedures:

  • 1) Measure out 4 cups of hot water

  • 2) Put on your gloves

  • 3) Add your Dye package

  • 4) Add 4 TBSP of salt*

  • 5) Mix well

  • 6) Add this mixture to your tub of water, creating the dye bath

Tips:

1) If you want very dark colors use two dye packs in 4 cups of water. If you aren't sure about the finished color you're aiming for, it's always easier to go back and re-dye the corset darker rather than try to lighten the color.

2) *Amounts of salt (or other add-ins) may vary depending on the dye being used. You should refer to the dye instructions regarding what and how much to add.

 

Step 5: Dyeing the corset

  • 1) Add the corset to the dye bath.

  • 2) Fully submerge the corset and swish it around in the dye.

  • 3) After 5 minutes in the dye you should begin to see a light color. After 10 minutes this color will darken. Leave the corset in the dye bath for 45min to 1 hour for full color.

Tip:

The corset will dry approximately 2 shades lighter than the final damp color. So you'll want to dye the corset darker than you want the final color to be. If you aren't sure what damp color to aim for you can use a white cotton t-shirt or scraps of white cotton fabric to test the dye bath and ensure that the end color is what you're looking for. Allow the corset to dry to make sure you like the color before you throw out your dye as you can redye the corset to achieve darker results.

  

Step 6: Finishing

  • 1) Once you have the color you want, rinse the corset in clean water until the excess dye comes out. Be patient! It may take several rinses to get all the excess dye out.

  • 2) Add a little detergent to clean water and rinse again.

  • 3) Dump out the soapy water and rinse yet again with clean water. The objective here is to get all of the dye and all of the detergent out of your corset.

  • 4) You can dry your corset by letting it drip dry, gently rolling it in clean, absorbent towels and laying it flat to dry, or by using a hair dryer to speed up the process.* DO NOT try to twist or wring excess water out of your corset! Doing so may result in twisting the steel bones in their channels or damaging the fabric as cotton fibers are weaker when wet (due to the chemical structure).

Tip:

*When using a hair dryer be careful not to expose the corset to excessive heat. Remember that your corset is full of steel bones, all of which can heat up quickly and store heat for quite a long time.

Redyeing your corset, special dyeing techniques and effects

The techniques described briefly below are a bit more advanced than dyeing your corset a single, solid color, but can produce some spectacular results! All of the specifics of these techniques will take place during "Step 5: Dyeing the corset" as detailed above; however, some special effects will necessitate going through the full dyeing process more than once. For ease of use, we've organized these from the least to most advanced techniques.

  

Re-dyeing

After drying, if your corset comes out lighter than you wanted or you decide to change the color you can re-dye your corset. Keep in the mind the new dye will be building on the old color so the end result will be darker. If you're just looking to darken the current color and haven't thrown out your dye bath yet, you can use this to re-dye your corset. We do not recommend bleaching to remove dye as the bleach may interact poorly with the steel components. Just save the dye bath or make new dye mixture and keep going until you get the color you want.

"Vintage" dyeing

To get a vintage color you can first dye the corset in iDye "Ecru" before dyeing the corset in the main color of dye. You'll need to create two separate dye baths and go through the full dyeing process (minus drying) detailed above for both colors in order to do this.

The "Ecru" color will "antique" the colored dye as you can see in the picture of the corset compared to the cotton skirt with only the violet dye (bottom right hand image below).

Ombre dyeing

To make the ombre look you'll need to keep the lower half of the corset in the dye longer. This is what makes the ombre coloring. You really need to keep track of the color progression, and keep hands on the corset to make sure it doesn't completely submerge. If you're feeling especially ambitious you can also slowly add more dye to the dye bath while raising the corset out of the bath to create an even more intense effect.

Remember the corset will dye lighter, so dye darker than the final color you want! Once finished dyeing, rinse the corset in the shower to remove excess dye. You'll want to hold the corset so that the darker edge of the corset is lower down while rinsing and if drip drying/hanging to dry (this prevents excess dye from running over the lighter edge of the corset and potentially ruining the ombre effect), and allow it to dry overnight.

  

Two-tone dyeing

Just like with the ombre dyeing, you start the two tone corset by dyeing just the lower half of the corset. You don't need to wait for the corset to dry, you can simply add it to the new dye...although rinsing the corset out is a good idea as your dye bath could potentially become muddled with excess dye from the first dye bath color otherwise.

Additional Embellishment

Now that your corset is the perfect shade you can further embellish it with stencils and fabric paint, rhinestones, lace applique...the options are nearly unlimited! Because there are so many options for adding extra character to your corset, below is just a brief overview of a couple of options.

Tip:

After you've finished embellishing, it's best to dry-clean the corset, and to do so as infrequently as possible, to avoid damaging the designs and negatively affecting the color.

Stencils

1) Acquire your supplies: Stencils and craft or fabric paints are available at most local craft stores and are one of the simpler ways to add extra patterns and designs to your corset.

2) Tape the stencil in place.

3) Use a craft sponge or sponge brush to dab on the paints. You can do multiple layers or colors for bolder contrasts.

Tip:

Wash off your stencil and allow it to dry between uses to avoid smudging your painted designs!

Crystals and Rhinstones

You can add jewels to your corset for a sparkly, gem encrusted effect (great for burlesque costumes!) using heat transfers, hot glue, or in some cases by stitching them in place. It's best to refer to the instructions on the jewels you plan to use for this and proceed with caution.

Once your corset is dyed and embellished to your liking, all that's left to do is enjoy the finished result!

  

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