Dyeing shoes – the first attempt

Last week I wrote about dyeing some nylon/acrylic in the slow cooker with landscape dyes which can be found here.

Whilst the slow cooker was bubbling away, I was also dyeing cotton yarn and canvas shoes! These take a different dye and different dyeing process.

I used Drimarene K dyes. These are fibre reactive dyes. I had a little starter pack my mum gave me years ago. This included a red, blue, yellow, rubinole, and a black. I have since got larger quantities of the red, yellow and blue to further experiment.

Using the fibre reactive dye requires your textile to be first soaked in Soda Ash. After that you paint, dip, squeeze the dye onto your object.

I started out with a pair of canvas shoes. I squeezed the dye out of sauce bottles on the first shoe. I quickly discovered that this put too much dye on the surface and I found it extremely hard to control, and I had dye running everywhere!

Attempt #1 = fail! It’s all part of the process 🙂

Luckily these are just practice shoes, and on the next one I experimented with painting the dye on with paint brushes. Winner!

Attempt #2 was much better! Learnt a few things!

To get the best results from these dyes, you keep them moist for 24 hours before rinsing. I put each shoe into a ziplock bag, and placed them in a nice warm spot for the night.

wrap them up and leave over night

I had another pair of shoes to practice on. This time I painted each shoe. And they looked great!

Getting better at this shoe dyeing thing!

After letting them sit for 24hrs, I rinsed them, then put them through a washing cycle. Using Synthrapol to get rid of excess dye.

Drying in the window

Now I’m fairly confident with dyeing the shoes, we have ordered Converse to dye as well. Guy has high tops and I have ordered low tops. These will be for our “Colourful Wedding” in November.

I also tried my hand at dyeing some of the cotton I wrote about in my last post. For this I layed out a skein of the presoaked cotton on a length of glad wrap. I then squirted the dyes on in a stripe pattern. Then I wrapped the glad wrap around it. A bit of a squeeze helped blend the colours, but not too much as to make a mess of it. I left it wrapped for 24hrs as well before giving it a good rinse. I have to hope a good hand rinsing will be ok for this, as it won’t get a proper washout until it has been made into something.

cotton yarn drying


Yarn balled up. You can see the effect dyeing the yarn like this has.

There will be plenty more dyeing adventures in my future. I still need to dye two pairs of converse shoes for the wedding, and a tie to match! Not to mention how much fun I have dyeing yarn! And I have a massive bag of white roving that needs dyeing too!

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