DIY: Dying Curtains with Rit Dye

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Oh man, am I bad about promising blog posts and never writing them. Seriously, pretty sure if I tell you guys I'm going to write something, it means I'm destined to NEVER write about it. But here I am, trying to make good on my promise after someone kindly reminded me that I haven't told you all how I made the curtains in the nursery yet. 

DIY: Dying Curtains with Rit Dye

I searched for weeks for curtains in kelly green and came up with nothing, literally, nothing. Usually I can always find what I want, it's just a billion and twelve dollars, but this time, there was nothing out there unless I wanted to commission someone to custom make something for me. So pretty quick, I found I needed to go the DIY route.

I fell back on my trusty Ikea Ritva curtains, we have them all over the house and I love them both for their price and quality. To get the color I wanted, I picked up 11 bottles of Rit Dye - six aquamarine and five apple green. For every pound of fabric you have (about three yards) you need 1/2 bottle of liquid Rit. I had four curtains at 5.5 lbs. each, so I needed a lot of Rit. I went to my local Jo-Ann Fabric for these, taking a few different trips so I could get at least 40 percent off every bottle. (Did you know you can combine their coupons from their website, app and the ones you get in the mail, plus they will match competitor's coupons? Moral of the story: NEVER PAY FULL PRICE AT JO-ANN.)

Essentially, I followed the directions on the Rit website, found here - these instructions are MUCH more informative than just the bottle, going into fabric types, weight, etc. so if you think you'd like to tackle this, be sure to read the website first - it was incredibly helpful in getting the right color on the first try. 

Once I had my materials together, I went through this process:
  1. Pre-washed the new curtains.
  2. Filled the washing machine up with the hottest water possible and dumped in all the dye. At the same time I wet my undyed curtains in hot water before adding them to the machine. (We have a large utility sink next to our washing machine that I used for this.)
  3. After adding my curtains to the dyebath, I waited five minutes and added one cup of salt and one tablespoon of my homemade laundry detergent, as suggested on the Rit website. 
  4. Left my curtains in the machine for two hours. The material needs to be moving at all times in the dyebath, but my machine will only agitate for 20 minutes at a time. So I set my timer on my cell phone and I sprinted down every 20 minutes to reset my machine (you have to be dedicated, my machine would have drained if I didn't make it down in time). The longer you leave it in the dyebath, the deeper and richer the color.
  5. After two hours had passed, I let my machine run through it's full cycle, rinsing on warm. 
  6. Once that was complete, I ran it through another cycle, on warm/cold, with one tablespoon of detergent. 
After all this, I anxiously pulled out my curtains. They looked too dark, more of a hunter green. But I shouldn't have worried, they dry lighter than when they are wet, so you actually want it to look darker when you pull them from the machine, making my wet hunter green curtains kelly green when dry.

A few notes:
  • I was a little worried about the dye staining my machine or clothing that I washed after the dye job, but after looking around the web for testimonials of those who have done it, it sounds like that's usually not a problem, but just in case, I ran my machine on a rinse cycle with a little bleach in it, and then another rinse cycle and I didn't have any problems. 
  • To avoid uneven dying, make sure you prewash your curtains. I dyed another set of curtains navy for my living room and forgot this step. I ended up with a few light blue splotches on the curtains and had to redye them. 
  • To dry, I just air dried the curtains by hanging them on the curtain rods in the room. They took about two full days to dry and become their true color.   
  • The Ritva curtains have polyester threading - it won't take the dye as well as the cotton panels, so the curtains ended up with light green stitching. It doesn't bother me and you can hardly tell unless you're looking for it. I've included a pic below so you can see.
DIY: Dying Curtains with Rit Dye

Overall, the color turned out amazing, and Mike and I were super happy with the result. The color is rich, even and saturated, and they seriously look like we purchased them that way. They're such a fun, bold color in the space and I'm so glad we didn't compromise by finding different curtains. Plus this was a much more economical route than many other curtains I looked at. If you'll remember my first try at curtains for the nursery (whomp, whomp), I broke down what the cost would have been and it was about $17 per curtain. 

For this set, I reused those same curtains and just purchased the dye. Here's the cost breakdown:

Four Ikea Ritva curtain panels (sold in packs of two for $24.99 each) = $50
Eleven bottles of Rit Dye ($3.99 each, with 40 percent off, making them $2.39 each) = $26.29
Grand total for four curtains = $76.29 or $19.07 per panel. 

DIY: Dying Curtains with Rit Dye