Saturday, July 23, 2011

Die Couch…er…Dye that is

So the white couch was a bad idea. BAD. Mainly because I’m a softy and let the dog up on the couch and also because we’re human, we spill stuff. If it had been a white bleachable slipcover we could have possibly pulled of white, but I was so set on having the “tailored look”. Well, you live and you learn and that motto definitely describes my dye experience.

I’ve dyed stuff a lot in the past thanks to my nerdy foam fighting, costume making days. Therefore I looked at my fabric with firm confidence, cracked my knuckles and got to work with smugness. A few several hours later was when I realized that my self affirmed success was far from happening.

In the past I’ve dyed with RIT dye, but I was hankering to try the cheaper and pleasantly packaged I-dye (yes I was suckered in my the graphic design). My experience was RIT black was that if you don’t use enough of it the fabric is a ghastly pink puke color. So with the I'dye packages, I was planning on using two per load of three pounds of fabric. I added a cup of salt and followed the directions for our front load washer, a little wary of the water not being hot enough.


It’s almost worth the $3 a dye packet just to watch these things flow into the water. It looks exactly like the cover of the package and immediately makes me want to buy a bunch more so I could take pictures of them curling and rippling like knives through the clear.

But when I opened the load to check how they were doing, this is what they looked like. PURPLE Sad smile


This could have been countered had I been on more of a first name basis with our washing machine. The dye needs to set into the fabric for at least an hour. I’ve found that it’s best to keep it agitated instead of just sitting in the bath so that there are no pockets that get less concentration of dye. Our washer’s longest soak/shake time was 15 minutes, so I went four times and switched the knob back to the top. But again, I was less than acquainted with the washer, so I didn’t realize that the water starts to drain when it hits the #4 on the dial. My dye only soaked into the fabric for a total of 15 minutes. FAIL.

Then I googled and found out that when you are dying white to black, it’s often good to start with a color base. It makes total sense. When I was on a painting crew we learned to prime using a colored primer if the walls were to be painted a dark color. This is because the base hue will show through. Apparently all black dye starts from a red or a blue base and will show those colors if not saturated long enough. And exactly like mixing paint, mixing a bit of a complementary color into the bath will neutralize.

Since my cloth turned out purple and I did not purchase any green dye to mix in…I went ahead and tried again using two packets. This time I let the cloth sit in the dye for 50 minutes before closing and letting the cycle begin.

AND my deep sincere hopes for not having to make another store trip were thrashed….unless I’m okay with a dark purple couch.


My intentions for staying up to nail the sucker back on were halted and we are once again stuck with a zombie couch in the living room. It’s bare little skeleton sits shivering as it’s upholstery sweater awaits a decision. One can only hope that the dog doesn’t discover the oodles of exposed fluff and batting highly available for shredding and scattering.

What have I learned about purple today? I’m not a fan. I’ve been staring at the couch with the cushions on and realizing that purple is a color I’ve avoided in the past.  I think I could make it work, it’s not completely horrible but it’s certainly not top choice. The only thing I could think to do with it is go with a tribal print sort of thing and mix the jewel tones. Lebanon meets Native American. I threw it in Photoshop so I could see how I liked it with a middle eastern rug, two tribal prints with the cow head hung on the wall (who on earth has to think about how to incorporate their cow head?) and then finish it with a big breezy picture on the wall of some clouds. You know like that open sky herding vibe. I’d maybe even throw a piece of leather on the coffee table.



  1. I love you Sarah Scruggs! I know this probably wasn't funny for you but it made me laugh. Not so much the purple couch itself, rather the elaborate way you told the tale of the purple couch! Thanks for making me laugh!

  2. I'm so glad, and it made me laugh as well!! I told Charley we're getting a unicorn poster and a rainbow pillow to go with our pink and purple living room


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