Dye + polyester = sad face.

This is the story of a project that did not turn out as planned. It's the story of how polyester, yellow dye, and a giant pot of boiling water took away several hours of my life that I will never, ever get back. (If the word polyester would have scared you away from the beginning, then you are smarter than I.)

We had  purchased these chairs several months earlier with the intention of sewing slipcovers, but when I saw some people in blogland dying fabric, I thought that we'd give that a try first. I figured it would save me the time and energy I'd spend cajoling the sewing machine to cooperate with me.

The fabric on the chairs is 100% polyester. Now, I have read that polyester is hard to dye, so I got the iDye Poly from Joann's. We carefully took the fabric off of the chairs (there were approximately 8,451 staples holding it in place), and then I got busy preparing The Dye Bath. Following the directions like a good girl, I first soaked my garments. (No, that is not a euphemism for "I wet my pants.")

Then, I let my packet of stinky dye mix dissolve in a steaming hot bowl of water.

Then, I dissolved that in my pot of water and put the garments back in. According to the directions, the water had to come to a boil before the "dye process" would be most effective. ("Dye process most effective" may strike you as a gigantic oxymoron when you see how this all turns out.) I would highly recommend engaging in any or all of the following activities while waiting for that elusive boiling temperature to come:

1. Read War and Peace aloud.
2. Crochet curtains for your entire house.
3. Teach yourself Mandarin Chinese.
4. Memorize the entire script of Gone With the Wind.
5. Count the brush strokes on the nearest painted wall.
4. Read War and Peace in Mandarin Chinese while crocheting curtains for your neighbor's entire house.

Aaaaand that ought to keep you busy for part of the time, at least. :)

Once it finally came to a boil, and I was able to express my excitement about that fact like a Chinese version of Scarlett O'Hara, I began the agitation process of stirring my brew. And in case you were wondering, I'm not picking my nose in this picture (though that is another excellent way to pass the time). The dye bath smelled like something you shouldn't spend several hours inhaling.

An hour later, I took out the garments, tossed them in the wash (as per the directions), and then Rick got busy stretching them back onto the chairs. And what do we have? Chairs the color of...margarine.

Mmm, partially hydrogenated butter substitute. Does it make you want toast? No? Okay.

In addition to the fact that they hardly look any different than when we began the entire process (except that they shrunk...which is NOT a plus), "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" is not exactly the look I was going for. I followed the directions to the letter (maybe that was the problem? Has anyone else tried it?) and did not find success. So the moral of the story is that, unless you have nothing better to do with 5 hours of your life, you should not mess with polyester. However, mess with polyester is precisely what someone did when they created these snazzy coordinating outfits:


Now that is polyester I could get along with. In fact, I'm thinking these exact outfits would be ideal for our next family portrait. Thoughts?


  1. Definitely go with those outfits..I don't think you can go wrong.

    Sorry about the chair. I'm going to attempt to paint a wingback chair soon. I'll let you know when I fail..we can have a blogging fail club. :P

  2. Oh, what a bummer. I hate when "easy" things don't work out. I guess you'll be sewing slipcovers after all.

  3. The chair was worth a shot though, right?

    Thanks to this post, I totally want to be a Plaidstallion when I grow up.

  4. Aww sad. I'm terrified of fabric dye, and you've just reinforced my phobia. However, I'm now much more interested in polyester pantsuits.

  5. HUGE bummer. I'd rather have seen it tie-dyed than no colour change at all. Poor you. it did make for an entertaining post though, especially the list of things to do while waiting for it to boil!

  6. Oh no! I'm sorry that you did all that work for very little change. But I applaud you for doing it in the first place!

  7. This is a bit late, but I see something that possibly borked your dye from the beginning. You needed to use a stainless steel pot, if its anything else, like aluminum, it messes with the dye dispersion. Also, you could have added more dye, yellow and maybe a tad of brown or red depending on what hue you guys were going for. Its not the water to dye mix so much as its dye to fabric weight ratio. Hope this helps if you decide to try again.

  8. and forgot to add to my previous comment, you need to add the fabric after the water has started boiling.


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