Towels to Dye for!

For our wedding my brother bought us a gorgeous set of white Country Road towels, which I love, and they are lasting beautifully, plus they’re big and luxurious. About 2 years later I found them on sale in Myer, they didn’t have any white so I called my hubby to see what colour I should buy. At the time we thought ‘neutral’.

Towels before dying

Neutral Towels

Based on the idea that if we did a bathroom it would most likely be neutral. So I bought them. About a month later, after a couple of uses they went like this

Streaky towels to dye

The colour went all streaky

Yech. I dont know why, I can’t figure it out. I thought about returning them but then I thought I’d left it to long, and maybe it was something I did to them? There was nothing else wrong with them except the streaking of the colour. Then last year we did that second bathroom. Guess what – not neutral! Grey, lots of lovely greys and whites.

Grey and White Bathroom

Grey and White

Sure my white towels look fabulous but you need two towel sets in the rotation. Otherwise when the white ones are in the wash, hubby just grabs any old towel. That, gasp, shock, horror, DONT MATCH! Ok I know there are worse things in life but who knew it could be so easily fixed.

Dana posted recently about dying fabric. I’ve thought about dying the towels for some time but I’ve never been gutsy enough. I was always worried that it would ruin my machine or be hard work or come out streaky or fade or something. But encouraged by a ‘dye your towels’ from Dana, I took the plunge. I’m so very very excited about how well it worked.

I had to do a few things a bit different since it wasn’t a handful of onesies and apparently you can’t buy RIT dye in Perth, I’m not sure about Australia but I couldn’t find RIT dye in Perth anywhere. So I just chose this Jaquard iDye from Spotlight. The rest was so easy you can do it while you have a cuppa!

Jacquard iDye, Salt, Coffee

Jacquard iDye, Salt, Coffee

I just dyed it straight in the laundry sink. There was no way it would all fit in one bucket and I wanted to dye it all together to make sure the colour was consistent.

fabric dying straight in the sink

fabric dying straight in the sink

The dye I bought has all the traditional methods listed, you could even put it in a front loader but I decided to ‘experiment’. I was a bit worried that Heat was an important part of the process. I didnt want to stick the towels in the dryer. I try really really hard not to use it and its such lovely weather in Perth it seems a crime. So I boiled one kettle of water. Poured this over the dye satchels then added hot water straight from the tap. Its amazing how the satchels just dissolve and the colour bursts out! I made sure all the dye was dissolved by sticking a gloved hand in and mixing, especially across the bottom as it seemed to stick a bit.

Its also really pretty how the colour seeps into the fabric.

submerging the fabric

submerging the fabric

As you can tell I’ve had a whole lot of fun.

Now a couple of people post about this ‘easy’ way of dying and no one mentions the salt/vinegar. People ask and no one mentions whether is gets put in or not. So I decided to put it in. I started to put it in first then thought better and tipped it in after I’d submerged the fabric. I figure for a couple of dollars of salt why not.

Adding the salt After adding the fabric

Adding the salt After adding the fabric

Then I gloved up and stirred it up. I was hoping the dying would get the streaks out too, but I wasn’t confident. I also wanted to make sure all that salt was dissolved. The towels only just fit in the sink (with room to ‘swim’) so I had to be careful of splashing because I’m pretty sure it would stain your grout and most other things if you didn’t wipe it up straight away. I have a couple of dye stains on my arms where the gloves didn’t reach and I got splashed. The rest I wiped as I went and the laundry is none the wiser.

I rinsed and wrung the towels the best I could but they are so big and heavy I wasn’t super successful, in the end I tipped them into a bucked and straight into the machine. I put it on a normal 40C wash cycle and added a scoop of Omo (washing powder). I could see some of the dye in the machine as it washed and there was some splatter on the rim when I took it out but I wiped it down and ran a rinse cycle (water only) and you can’t tell.

rinse cycle

rinse cycle

I then caved in and put them in the dryer. Again I’m worried heat might help set the colour or something, but I only put them in for about 20mins, felt guilty and took them out. They were wet but nice and hot (like an aeroplane hot towel!) I put them on the line and stood looking at them with glee for about 5 whole minutes. They are PERFECT. Streak free, luxuriously fluffy and a beautiful shade of grey, they even seem to shine a little!

DIY Dyed Grey Towels

DIY Dyed Grey Towels

I am a little ashamed about the level of excitement I have over this but it was just too fun, and it worked out so well and it was EASY! Easy towel dying! aren’t they ‘to dye for’?

Look how lovely they are in my bathroom, I like how the dark grey ads a bit of elegance or luxury, dont you think?

easy dyed grey towels

Grey Elegance

Now I’m about to do another bathroom, in our new project house, whats to bet I do something stupid and choose neutral colours.

Unlikely, I do love grey, at the moment.


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10 Responses to “Towels to Dye for!”

  1. Jess Says:

    AWESOME!! That’s so cool! You know, I think i’m just going to quit working and spend the next year doing great crafty things with you. Imagine the fun times! And you should never be ashamed of something brilliant you’ve done – I jump around rooms and show EVERYONE things I do. It’s all part of the creative process hahaha

  2. Jess Says:

    P.S. Some very cheesy comments in there, Claire! I almost ‘dyed’ when I read them. Hahaha 😛

  3. little green road Says:

    you are truly an inspiration claire. u hear it a million times from me, and u r probably sick and tired of hearing it. but lets face it. its the truth. the towels looks absolutely amazing!

  4. Dana Willard Says:

    so cool!!!! Very fun to see!
    and yes, I’ve heard about adding salt. I’ve never tried it but have been meaning to and should probably add that to the tutorial.
    Thanks for sharing in the flickr group!
    – dana

  5. Anna Says:

    wow, those are great, and what a great idea. I definitely want to try it!

  6. Tina Says:

    WOW .. thanks so much.. Can you tell me the name of the dye you used !

  7. munchieandme Says:

    I did a google search on towel dying and found your blog. I have white towels that are not so white any more (silly purchase in the first place by me!) and I was looking to dye them the same color as your grey towels. So guess what I am doing this afternoon!! I will let you know if I have the same success as you. You did make it sound easy though……

    • sweetunwrappinglife Says:

      Oh it was easy! You could probably make it easier on yourself by just throwing the whole lot in the machine together but I was afraid it would stain my machine or something. Still it was easy and this way you can let it sit as long as you like. Let me know how you get on!

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