Friday, February 10, 2012

Going Grey

No, I'm not talking about my hair...although that, too, is currently happening.

I'm actually talking about my kitchen curtains.  There's nothing terribly wrong with them.  But there's nothing terribly right with them, either.  They're just there.  They serve a purpose.  But I've never had anyone walk in and say, "wow, what amazing, but normal, brown curtains you have!"   

I've been debating what to do about them for awhile.  I pinned a few photos on Pinterest with ideas ranging from roman shades to using vintage handkerchiefs as curtains.  In the end, though, I decided to try dyeing them.  

I've never dyed anything before in my life.  I've got to be honest, it was a little scary.  But, I reasoned, I bought these things for pennies at Target years ago, so if they turned out awful, I haven't lost a whole lot.  

A month or two ago I bought some Rit brand grey dye from the grocery store.  I had plans to dye my shower curtain back then, but changed my mind.  So I thought grey kitchen curtains might be cool.

The first step, according to the directions, was to pretreat my fabric using their color remover and getting out as much of the original color as possible.  I followed the directions and threw them in the wash:

This is how they turned out:

Don't ask me why the tabs turned purple.  Very strange.  But I shrugged my shoulders and hoped that it would come out okay in the end.  On to step two.  This is where things got dicey.

According to the package directions (which were terribly unhelpful, by the way), I was supposed to soak my pretreated fabric in hot water.  I used water from my tap, which does get pretty hot.

Check.  The second thing the directions told me to do (and I had to look this up online because the package directions didn't actually say to do this) was to dissolve my dye powder in hot water.  They also recommended adding a cup of salt for cotton fabrics to get better results.  I gathered my supplies and...  

check.  Sort of.  The dye didn't dissolve completely, but I figured it was good enough.  

With some reservations, I threw everything into the wash.  I was getting kind of excited at this point.  Finally, finally, it was done.  I took them out and beheld this:

Womp womp.  The color didn't really come through in this picture, but there were not grey.  They were some sort of army greenish...faded...ugly-not-sure-what-color-it-is color.  With purple tabs.  Hmmm.

I decided to try this again.  The next morning I bought two packs of grey dye at the grocery store -- same brand.  The directions on these new packages were much more helpful.  For starters they told me, in detail, to dissolve my dye powder in 140 degree water (aka, heat it on the stove -- don't use tap water) and to add the salt to the dye bath (previously, I just added it to the dye solution and then threw everything into the wash).  These directions also made it clear that I would definitely need two packs of dye to color the amount of fabric that I had (the other directions said nothing about this).  Waaay more helpful.  Would have been good to know that yesterday.  I also used a little less water in the wash and let the cycle agitate for 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes.

Okay, so this is what I ended up with:

So much better.  Like a tenfold improvement.  Again, not sure if the color came through in the pics, but they are definitely grey.  And the tabs may have a hint of purple, but they are pretty grey as well.  Grey enough, in my opinion, to move on to the next step.

I haven't finished these guys, yet.  My plan is to do some sort of applique.  I really like organic themes in decorating (trees, branches, flowers, the outside), so I was thinking of some sort of abstract flower design.  I'm going to work on it this weekend and I will (hopefully) have some update pics for you by Tuesday.  

So.  My evaluation of this project thus far?  I'm happy with the way the curtains turned out.  But, the process?  Not so much.  I definitely made my fair share of mistakes along the way -- I am a novice dyer, but  I kind of blame the directions on the dye package for at least some of those mistakes.  Overall, though, I would definitely do it again.  It was kind of fun to see the change.  And now that I know something about dyeing I feel a little more confidant that I could get the results I want.

Anyway, happy Friday everyone!  Yay -- my favorite day of the week.  I hope everyone has an awesome weekend, and I hope to see you here next week :)

Thanks for reading!


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