This post is written by one of my fabulous 7 Steps to Style members Bernadette Lis who has lots of experience dying her clothes.
ALL warm ladies should keep a bottle of Rit Golden Yellow liquid dye and all cool ladies should keep a bottle of Rit Pearl Grey liquid dye within the house to help “tweak” some of their colours or prints. Keep it somewhere in the kitchen, master bath, or laundry room near a sink with some q-tips (cotton buds). When you are considering dyeing or overdyeing a print or solid, test the fabric by dabbing a miniscule amount of dye onto a seam allowance inside the garment (a very tiny amount so that it doesn’t seep into the main body of the garment). Then rinse it out after a few minutes. If it “takes” (Rit will dye both natural and some man-made fabrics, but not all polyesters or acetates), you know you can proceed confidently.
Cotton, rayon, modal, viscose, linen, and bamboo will all dye as natural fibers so you can use Rit or Procion, with my preferring Procion even though it is more complicated. Use Rit if you are uncertain what an item is made from (you did test the seam, right?), so you know it will take dye. Wool usually requires heat, so not for a novice at this! Silk is funny and can “shift” colours, so testing with the individual colour is required (you cannot test silk with any other colour than the one you intend to use, again, not for a novice).
I use Procion Blue Grey to mute and cool colours and Rit Golden Yellow or Rit Tan to warm colours. If I wanted to tone down and warm a colour, I would use both a blue grey and a golden yellow (in the same brand) but would have to mix them myself to “tweak” it correctly (I test on white fabric scraps until I get what I want).
The thread colour dyeing properly is not usually an issue with overdyeing since you are just changing the fabric colour slightly to suit you; no one is going to notice that your pink thread is a slightly different pink!
In solid colours, you’ll find it pretty easy to soften colours with blue grey or warm them up with a yellow or tan dye. I personally use a lot of blue grey since it seems to tip most of my favourite colours to suit me. If a colour is not bright enough or saturated enough for you, it is possible to overdye it with its own colour.
Prints can be a bit of a potluck, but can also be a lot of fun to overdye. Medium value contrast ladies can change a black and white high value contrast print to medium value contrast by overdyeing the white to a colour. A small black and white print can appear as a muted textural colour. Too bright colours in a print can be cooled, muted, warmed up, or made tone on tone.
I have used only a few colours for my examples and tried to use each colour on the available samples (I ran short in some prints). In real life, I have many dye colours and would sit down and look at each print and give it a “think” as to which colour would do what to each colour in the print and whether or not I would like it. The samples are just to give you some ideas and a “feel” for what could happen. Start small and have fun!
Now RIT provides formulas so you can mix your own Pantone colours.