Hidden Art Friday

Hello friends! It’s Friday, and I’m going to show you pictures of probably my proudest housewifely accomplishment to date–custom dying curtains for my little girls’ room!

(I thought I'd take a pinterest-ready photo of this and asked my girls to clean up their room. This is their definition of cleaned up. Sigh.)

(I thought I’d take a pinterest-ready photo of the curtaings and asked my girls to clean up their room. This is their definition of cleaned up. Sigh.  #RealHousewivesOfE2S)

I don’t know about you, but the whole world of Rit Dye-ing just overwhelms me.  It sounds so…complicated and hardcore.  I know, I bake my own bread and make my own yogurt and chicken stock, so I may seem like the hardcore type, but that normally ends in the kitchen.  But you know what, my girls asked me for pink curtains in their new room in our new house, and sheesh, pink curtains that are long enough to cover a sliding glass door cost a fortune!  I realized I’d have to try something new.

I knew from reading pinterest that I wanted my curtains hung up closer to the ceiling, not right over the window, and that limited my cheap options, because apparently only rich people know that home decorating tip, and the rest of us are buying 84 inch curtains and looking like dorks.  (I exaggerate.  Sortof.  Pinterest-y home decorating blogs can get pretty judgey.)  I ended up getting a couple sets of 96″ Ikea Vivan curtains in white because they were $9.99 for a two-pack.  Trouble is, the curtains were part polyester, and the internet tells us that we can’t dye polyester blends with a predictable measure of success.  Even the Rit site said that polyester blends require their special Dyemore formula and that they need to be boiled for half an hour in a pot on the stove and even then, it might not work.  I decided to buy four bottles of pink Dyemore formula and see if I could prove the Internet wrong.  I figured the worst I could do was discover the dye washed out and just have to convince my girls that white curtains were what they really wanted, after all.

I had four 96 inch by 48 inch curtains that I needed to be the exact same shade, so stovetop method was out.  I boiled water in every pot I owned (plus a borrowed dutch oven from the neighbor), turned up the water heater, and dumped everything (using one bottle of dye per curtain panel) into my washing machine, running the hot cycle.


The dark pink color kinda freaked me out right off the bat.  I originally wanted a lighter, carnation-type pink, not hot pink, to go with the gray walls and lighter sheets/quilts/blankies/rug.  But everything says that it looks darker wet than it does when it dries.  I used a broken off curtain rod to stir the curtains and let the washer go through the agitate cycle a few times.  I wore gloves to keep my hands from being stained from the splashing.  My parents kept water boiling upstairs and brought more down a couple times.

img_20151226_201752957.jpgSo we agitated for about 45 minutes total and then let the washer do the rest of its cycle.  According to the directions on the bottle, you add a dollop of detergent and run through a wash cycle immediately afterwards.  I found that I needed to run the rinse cycle 4 or 5 times before the water was clear of suds (detergent?  dye?).  (For those of you who have bottom-of-the-line washers like I do, I don’t have special buttons for all those cycles.  I just twist my dial around to the beginning of rinse again and again.)  They still looked pink when we pulled them out and stuck them in the dryer!  Success!

curtains upAnd dried, hemmed (they shrunk a good 4 inches, but still needed to be turned up a bit for our desired length), ironed (my mom, who is a saint, did that–I totally would have just stuck them up wrinkly and told the girls to deal), they look pretty good!  (They basically are as thin as cheesecloth, so I picked up some Ikea blackout curtains to hook behind them, which was a good call.)

IMG_3056If/when I do this again, I’ll know that the color on the Dyemore bottle is pretty accurate.  I’d originally wanted something a tad lighter, but I was afraid to use less dye or keep them in boiling water for too short a time in case it didn’t work at all.  My girls love the color, though, and it’s rich without being too icky-hot-pink (a color I dislike and my daughter adore).

It’s totally do-able!

Here’s the brief summary, if you’re inclined to try yourself.

Dye Your Own Custom Color Using Polyester-Blend Curtains!

  • Ikea Vivan curtains or something similarly cheap
  • 1 bottle of Rit Dyemore dye per curtain panel for a deep, rich color

Boil as much hot water as you possibly can.

Pour dye into hot water in the washer and stir around before adding curtains.

Keep adding very hot water until curtains are completely submerged.  Start all your pots boiling again and add more boiling water when you can.

Run the wash cycle on your washer for 30-45 minutes, poking every few minutes to make sure it’s all immersed evenly.  When the wash cycle ends, don’t let it drain and rinse–just go back to agitating again until you’ve hit the desired time.

After 45 minutes, let the washer complete its cycle, add a Tablespoon of detergent, and immediately run a full cycle again (I did it on warm/cold rather than hot/cold to give my water heater a break).  Repeat rinse part of the cycle until water is completely clear and sud-free when agitating.

Dry, iron (optional, ha), and hang before they have a chance to wrinkle. =)  Edith Schaeffer would be proud of you!

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2 Responses to Hidden Art Friday

  1. Sarah says:

    Have you had any issues with clothes coming out pink-ish in successive laundry loads?

    • Emily says:

      No, I was worried about that, but I ran a load of rags with bleach after the curtains, just in case. They didn’t get pink at all, and I’ve had no problems since then.

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