How to Overdye Difficult Colours Such as White, Beige, Navy and Orange


Overdying clothes into colours that flatter you can be a great way to “save” a garment that is a great shape and style, but the colour just isn’t right for you.  You can change a colour completely, or just tweak it slightly to a more flattering shade for you.

If you’ve been thinking about tackling something like this, read on to discover the colours to use and the results you can expect.

How to Overdye Difficult Colours

By Ms MakeitOver Bernadette Lis

These are the experiment results catalogued for those who have “problem” colours which they are attempting to change by overdyeing.

I have used those colours which I get frequent questions about or those which have been notoriously difficult.

Slight changes or tweaking is covered in the following post:

Guide to Overdying Garments To a Fabulous New Colour

The actual equipment and steps for dyeing with Procion are covered in this post.

Everything You Need to Know to Overdye Your Clothes at Home and Get a Brilliant Result

I have taken on some more difficult changes here.

(Please note that I tried to be professional and iron my samples flat but that ruined my photography efforts to show the colour as accurately as possible! Fabric is seen with light and shadows and I wanted to show the most accurate colour representation.)

How to Warm up Blues and Grey

I used a super strong Procion Lemon Yellow PR1 (primary) dyebath, at least four or five times the regular amount, for these two blues and a grey. (It looked as if I was putting the fabric into pure egg yolks!) The first blue is a NAVY BLUE which is dark and the second a ROYAL BLUE. The GREY is a medium shade.


How to Overdye colours to warm up or cool down, navy and grey

My conclusions:

Navy: This was a pretty dark navy which I got as the most “normal” and one which could look black in some lighting. I think if you just want to have a dark neutral which is warmer, that it gives just enough warmth for that purpose, having just a hint of being a warm marine navy instead of being a purely cool colour.

Royal Blue: The royal blue turned to a beautiful dark teal and I thought it a great result.

Grey: The grey turned to an olive colour so I suspect would do better with just a light wash of yellow if you were just trying to make a warm grey. What made this a difficult exercise was that the colours were, of course, darker when wet, so I was unable to see what they were doing as the colour was forming!


If you are going to attempt to overdye navy blue, I would still avoid those which have any purple hints within the navy (a sign there is some red present) and the colour could turn muddy. I also suggest that you may need to go through the process twice since you can’t judge the colour when the fabric is wet as it is so dark.

How to Cool Down Orange

Using a strong dyebath of Procion Fuchsia Red PR13 (primary), I tackled the orange colour. The orange was a bright one, so probably the most difficult one to attempt unless, of course, I used black or brown to dye it.

In the first picture, the dyebath was not strong enough to overcome the orange. It was a nice dark coral but still warm.

I added more of the dye and was happy to see a red colour emerge in the second picture.

In the third picture, I took the dyed red and hit it with a light touch (and just a touch) of Procion Blue-Grey PR38A to take the edge off the brightness of the colour.

How to overdye orange to a cool red
My conclusions:

The orange I selected was very bright! I imagine that most orange garments would not be as bright as the orange which I used and would be easier, especially if it was a lighter or more muted colour orange.

How to Tweak a Beige to Have a Warm or Cool Undertone

This experiment is really just for tweaking a beige to being cool or warm. I selected a beige colour original (one which I had difficulty judging in the store’s lighting as being definitely warm or cool) as my best candidate for demonstration.

How to overdye beige to be more warm or cool

My conclusions:

I was very happy with both results. Both samples were successful and pretty as final colours. I do wish to add a caveat! Do not attempt any dyeing on water-resistant fabrics (such as a trenchcoat) since that special finish will not allow the fabric to accept dye properly!

*Please note that the originals are really the same. This was very difficult to photograph!

How to Warm Up White

Everyone seems to be looking for a “tea dyeing” alternative to dyeing white to an off-white colour!

The first image is Procion Ivory PR114 and the second is a small dash of Procion Camel PR101.

how to overdye white to a ivory or camel

My conclusions:

The Ivory was pretty but more of a very light yellow or “almond” colour which you find in kitchen appliances. The Camel came out the best, looking like a natural unbleached cotton. I did not use the full amount recommended for either colour, using about a third of the Ivory recommendation and just a small amount for the Camel colour. I strongly advise experimenting on a sample for this because it will be a matter of personal taste!


7 steps to colour and style

How to overdye difficult colours such as white, grey, navy, beige - click through for tutorial



I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Thank you Bernadette and Imogen, this is such a fantastic helpful resource, and timely too. Really appreciated.

  • Lemon yellow is a cool yellow so I am surprised she used that color to warm up the others. A warmer yellow would be better, don’t you think? but a great resource. thank you.

    • The name “lemon yellow” is just a pure yellow for the Procion dye series and they have a designated colour number and “primary” next to it. All the other yellows have a touch of another colour in them. The light, cool yellow which is considered “lemon” is actually just a light wash of this primary over white in the same way as the fuchsia primary dye will give you a light pink when used as a light wash over white.

  • The dye provider you linked to is in the US, are any resources for similar products available in the UK, or elsewhere in Europe? The only easily available dyes in the UK are Dylon brand ( where you need to use the whole packet on a load in the machine (or hand dyes which are not as colourfast).

    • Amy, it would be easiest for you to dye the fabric to a dark brown. You may want to use twice the normal amount of dye (on a Dharma Procion jar, there would be an asterisk to indicate that) to ensure a nice deep colour.

  • Hi Imogen, This is a great article. Do you have any advice for turning a deep emerald green into a teal? My original mix didn’t work as I’d hoped. thanks

    • Carla, it is very easy to tip this emerald green to teal. Overdye with turquoise (which is the Procion primary for blue). This colour is marked for using with Glaubers salt rather than regular non-iodized salt but if that is not feasible, you may just want to add a little extra dye.

  • good morning girls!
    i have a pair of chinos….deep orange which i dosed with 2 back-to-back Rit Color Remover. the resulting color is a very deep mustard yellow (which is not a vast improvement). any suggestions? i was looking for a salmon/pink, but believe that to be an impossibility at this juncture. can i save these pants?
    thank you!

    • Linda, can you first confirm for me that the water you used the pants and dye remover in was at a rolling boil? Dye remover does almost nothing at just hot water temperatures. It really needs boiling.
      If this doesn’t release more dye, you can try adding a little fuchsia to tip this to a muted salmon/clay colour. If that colour doesn’t please you, you can dye with a brown. Just do any colour “tweaking” before adding the soda ash (using your bowl to take your item out of the water before adding more dye).

  • I have a linen/viscose dress that was originally flame orange. It got washed with a dark green t shirt and is now a very dull red. Any suggestions for brightening the colour. I don’t mind what colour really but just something more vibrant. Grateful for any advice. (I tried a colour run remover but it didn’t take any colour out).

  • I recently purchased a set of used Vera Bradley bags in the Paprika pattern. After receiving them in the mail, it is a bit too southwestern with the bright orange and turquoise. I thought about dying them in a fuschia to create more of a pinky orange with pink and purple accents from the white and turquoise spaces. I have 3 bags to dye; how many boxes of dye do you think I need to tint the orange and turn the blues to purple?

  • I have a red dress that I absolutely love the fit and dress, but it only comes in the red color. I was thinking about buying a new one and trying to dye it purple. I was using the RIT Color remover first and then try to dye it purple. Do you have any suggestions?

  • I bought a duvet cover and it is cream color I want it to be less yellow, either off-white or gray. It’s the color of a manilla folder you see in offices. Any ideas are appreciated. !00% cotton.

  • Hi,
    I’m so happy to have found your website! Years ago I bought a Shabby Chic linen duvet. It is a medium peach color, which I didn’t care for so I never used it. But it is a lovely duvet and I wondered if I could dye it another color. What do you think?

  • Thank you for getting back to me so quickly!
    the Shabby Chic colors or dusty colors. What are your thoughts which would dye best over peach linen?

    Many thanks,
    Lois Evans

    • Peach would probably overdye into a nice deep pink, so try adding fuchsia and a small touch of blue-grey to mute the brightness and cool the colour since most shabby chic colours have a faded/muted quality to them.

  • Hello, great inspiration…I am thinking of a dyeing project myself – hoping to dye a red linen loose cover on a chair to be a dusty blue colour. Any advice on what colour to use to get the desired effect?
    Thank you!

    • I think you will need to begin by removing the red by boiling the cover in dye remover and then dyeing to dusty blue.

      There is another option of using upholstery spray paint, but I have just recently found that there is such a thing, so can’t advise you on its use or how good it is.

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