You have your fabric, you have your dye, and you’ve read the directions on that back of your RIT dye box. But even as you’re doing this, you feel uneasy. Why? Because you’ve heard that RIT dye is fairly unreliable but it’s one of maybe two or three options easily available on the market.
If RIT dye didn’t work, trust me, I wouldn’t be so nice when talking about it. But it does work, you just have to keep in mind some things that might or might not be on the back of that box.
1. Clean your fabric beforehand. You can’t expect your fabric to absorb dye if it still has the sizing and preservatives that make it look pretty on the shelf.
2. Consider temperature, concentration of dye, time, and amount of water in bath. RIT’s directions, because they seem to aim for simplicity, are pretty vague. Do you know how much your fabric weighs? Will denser fabric absorb dye differently? Are they telling you the truth when they say that following the recipe will result in exactly matching the box color? And, how hot is ‘hot’ water, by the way? You might have to experiment with test fabric before you go in for real. Luckily, RIT is pretty cheap.
3. Wet your fabric completely before you put it in the dye bath.
4. Stir. A lot.
5. Fabric will be about two to three ‘shades’ darker in the dye bath wet than when dried.
6. Don’t skip the rinse baths. Excess dye bleeds and smudges onto other fabrics, like the ones the other garments in your costume are made from.
7. You cannot dye everything with RIT, and colors of incredible intensity cannot be achieved with RIT. For neons and blindingly bright colors, you have to step into the realm of not-so-scary, but plenty annoying fiber reactive dyes.