With the shops closed and the majority of us spending most of our time at home, now is a good time to go through your wardrobe.
Perhaps you need to do a purge of things that don’t fit or no longer suit your lifestyle.
Put what you don’t want into a bag for the charity shops as they’ll be in need of donations when they re-open.
Alternatively, you can take your old clothes to a clothes bank if there’s one in your local area or cut up old/stained clothing to make into dusters.
If you have an item you like but you want to breathe new life into it, why not try an upcycle? Fabric paint, dye, embroidery, zips, and studs can all inject new life into an old item.
I’m going to share one of my favourite upcycling methods and show how machine dye transformed these vintage jeans.
When I first bought these jeans, I really liked the fit of them but I wasn’t crazy about the colour. (I took before pics but for the life of me, I can’t find them!)
I was at a Tola Vintage kilo sale when I spotted these Levis 511 jeans. They are a slim fit but not skinny and low rise.
What I liked most about them was how thick and hardwearing the denim is. PS, I spilled water on them in the pic above, hence the weird discolouration!
I wore them a few times but I found it hard to match the weird grey/white colour and so they soon were left in a drawer.
Browsing in Hickeys one day, I saw some navy Dylon dye and I decided it was time to dye the jeans.
The process was really simple. I’d hand-dyed things before which can get messy but this was machine dye so I just had to pop the jeans into the wash with the dye capsule and run a cycle on 30C or 40C.
Then I had to wash them again with detergent on the same cycle and wait for them to dry.
The jeans emerged a gorgeous dark navy with the stitching remaining white. I hadn’t planned this but I really liked the effect.
However, the brown Levis patch on the back did dye which I was hoping it wouldn’t.
I don’t know if there’s a way around this but if there is, let me know!
Since I dyed the jeans, I’ve worn them much more frequently and found it easier to match them with outfits. The colour has also remained strong with numerous washes almost two years on.
This dye will remain on anything it stains, some got onto a towel I was using and it is still there to this day! So wear rubber gloves and old clothes and follow instructions carefully!
The colour of the dye on the box didn’t look that dark but it came out a deep navy blue which was exactly what I wanted. As far as I can remember the shade I picked was called navy blue.
Dylon also have a dye especially for faded jeans which I may use to revive old pairs in the future.
It’s important to remember that every fabric is different and dye results will depend on the permeability of the fabric and type of fabric. And some fabrics can’t be dyed, so check before you break open the dye.
The weight of the fabric and the amount of synthetic fibres will affect the final result, synthetic mixes will come out lighter.
From a sustainability point of view, obviously the dye residue will go into the water and there’s a good bit of washing involved but it’s probably still more sustainable than going out and buying a brand new item.
Machine-dying a few items with one capsule is probably the most sustainable way of doing it.
If you want to avoid artificial dyes, you can experiment with natural dyes, such as fruits and vegetables. Check out Moya (Environmental Eadai) on Instagram or Aisling Duffy Designs for natural dye inspiration.
Hope you all enjoyed this upcycling post and let me know if you decide to try machine dyes.
As for what else I’m wearing in the outfit above, it’s all vintage or thrifted except for my sunglasses. My boots were about €22 from a charity shop, shirt was about €6 from a charity shop (both River Island).
The jeans and my leather waiscoat were sold by kilo so I can’t remember what I paid but whole outfit is probably only about €55.