The process here is very simple.
You need: elastic, dye, water, a bowl and spoon, and gloves. That’s it!
A quick note about elastic:
Most elastics found in fabric shops are about 80% polyester, 20% rubber. You’ll find some that are a cotton/rubber blend and actually absorb the dye better than polyester elastic. However, I’ve only seen cotton elastic in 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch wide. If anyone has a source for WIDE cotton elastic, please leave a link in the comments!
Okay, let’s get started.
Grab your dye.
I used this Lemon Yellow RIT powder dye. It worked fine/great. But moving forward I think I’ll stick with the liquid variety. Liquid costs twice as much but it mixes better with the water and ensures a more even dye bath. If the powder isn’t dissolved entirely into the water (like mixing koolaid) you may end up with a spot here or there of concentrated dye on your fabric or elastic.
Grab a large bowl and spoon (I have a designated set that I always use for dyeing).
Fill it with the hottest water you can get from your tap. You don’t need to boil the water; just use what comes out of your pipes.
Mix in the dye, till it’s completely dissolved and mixed well:
Then throw in your elastic (or other items). Don’t overcrowd the bowl or your items won’t get an even dye. But don’t waste the chance to turn plain white into lemon yellow! If you have an extra baby onesie or a white T-shirt, throw them in too! Make the most of your dyeing efforts.
With gloves on, stir, squish, and move the elastic around in the dye. Do this for a few minutes and then you can walk away for a bit. Every 5-10 minutes come back and stir, squish, and move the elastic around. Leave the elastic in for as short or as long as you like. The finished product will typically look lighter than it does in the dye bath, so keep that in mind.
I left these elastics in for 1 hour.
When you’re at the desired color, dump out the water.
And rinse it a few times.
Beautiful yellow! Now throw it in the washing machine and run a normal cycle, then dry it in the dryer (or air dry). The only downside to the project is that it uses a fair amount of water. So I usually find ways to cut back on my other water consumption for the day to balance it out.
And…..you have colored elastic!
Here’s a sample of elastics from the RIT dye bath. All were left in for 1 hour. The cotton elastic on the far right dyed best. But I was very pleased with the Polyester elastic and will definitely be trying this again with other colors:
Elastic dyeing couldn’t be easier!
Of course, different dyes may give you different results (which is why I recommend trying a few brands out and also why I stick with the above method for dyeing). I decided to branch out and tried a new dye called iDye Poly, specifically recommended for dyeing Polyester. But the process went poorly.
It involved powdered dye, a liquid color intensifier, and boiling on the stove.
I followed the instructions,
But I never felt like the powder was completely dissolved.
And when I put the elastic in, it turned out like this, with big splotches of dye everywhere:
It wasn’t messy enough to actually look cool or intentional. But I washed it up anyway and I’ll use it for other projects that have hidden elastic in a casing:
It may have been my own errors using the dye; perhaps other people have had better results. But for now, I’ll stick with my hot water/bowl method above.