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March 13, 2012 / RA

I forgot to mention

In my resolution recap post, I forgot to mention that I took on another clothing alteration/embellishment last year: I dyed my wedding dress!

The transformation

I started entertaining the idea a few years ago when I read that Sherry at Young House Love dyed her wedding dress. I got married in a simple, v-neck, silk dress from J. Crew, and I liked the idea of wearing it again in a new form. After all, it had just been hanging in a closet since the wedding. I even had it hemmed to knee length after a few years, but there is almost no non-wedding occasion when a white, silk dress is appropriate, no matter what the length. So, what would I lose by dyeing it? I wasn’t using it anyway. But it was my wedding dress! What if I ruined it? But I never wore it! But it was my wedding dress!

And so on.

Last year, I got hooked on Marisa’s refashions at New Dress a Day, and I loved that she used dye liberally. She even used it in the washing machine! Very interesting! So I bookmarked the page and committed myself.

One night after work, I assembled my supplies in the laundry room:

  • Black RIT dye (1 bottle and 2 boxes, because my craft store ran out of bottles)
  • Salt
  • Bleach (and a plastic cup to avoid overgluggage)
  • Rubber gloves

I also readied a wire hanger from the dry cleaner to hang the dress above a paint drop cloth in case of any drips. Oh, and I got really, really scared.


Then I plunged in and followed these 10 easy steps, according to Marisa’s tutorial:

1. Wear all black clothing.

2. Start a medium-sized hot cycle and add salt.

3. Wet dress in hot water until saturated.

4. Add dye and freak out when everything turns black, oh so very black.

5. Finish hot cycle.

6. Open the washer and freak out at the carnage (cue stabby music from Psycho).


7. Put on gloves, remove dress and hang it over the drop cloth.

8. Frantically wipe down the washer with bleach and give thanks that the dye cleaned up well.

9. Run a large, hot cycle with bleach added.

10. Run another large, hot cycle without bleach.

Hem detailWhen I removed the dress from the washer, it looked like a mess. I thought I had ruined the fabric, much less dyed it a muddy color. But as it dried, the fabric softened, and the color emerged as a dark plum, not black. The lining and thread also took on the dye, though not to the same extent, ending up a light lavender. Not bad!

The only negative side effect — which I should have anticipated — was that the dress shrank. It’s now a teeny bit snug and a little bit shorter than I’d like. That said, it hits at the top of my knee, so it’s not exactly scandalous; I just prefer a slightly longer length. Also, the lighter lining peeks out from the dress, but I think it looks intentional. In any case, I think that this dress could be good for a party with flat sandals and a cute wrap. Somebody throw a fancy party! I can’t wait to say, all casual, “Oh, this? It was my wedding dress!”


  1. Carly / Mar 13 2012 9:49 am

    This is awesome, good job! And honestly I think the new shorter hemline is more flattering. You should probably wear it to potluck night at the beach ;)

  2. stephanie / Mar 13 2012 9:51 am

    The dress looks fantastic! I actually love the deep purple color and the lining looks totally intentional. Gah, this makes me wish I’d gone with one of the simpler J Crew dresses, too, just so I could remake it and get more than one wear out of a wedding dress. Alas, none of the ones out at the time were fitting for a mid-November wedding (too summery!).

    I actually first found Young House Love by seeing a link to Sherry’s post where she dyed her wedding dress. I am totally hooked on that blog now.

  3. Hilary / Mar 13 2012 10:12 am

    I love it! And your use of the word “overgluggage.”

  4. Janssen / Mar 13 2012 10:42 am

    This is just so so cool.

  5. Merrick / Mar 13 2012 11:03 am

    Whoa, awesome! I would definitely be scared too, but it looks gorgeous!

  6. meekasmommy / Mar 13 2012 11:54 am

    Hi! Used to read your blog, got lost in the ether of the internets, and now have found you again! (Used a different name before, not that you’d remember me, I just wanted to say hello again!)

    And I LOVE the way your dress turned out – it looks awesome!

  7. Jen / Mar 13 2012 12:28 pm

    What a fantastic (and brave!) endeavor! My dress was pretty simple, too, but it’s back in CA at my mom’s house. Next time I’m home, I’m going to see if there is some way I can alter mine. There’s beading on the bodice, so I’m not sure I can dye it, but maybe I can shorten it?

    Very cool, indeed.

  8. Saskia / Mar 13 2012 12:51 pm

    Gorgeous. My mom used to dye stuff in the washer, so I know all about the dye-routine, but I still freak out every time I do it and pray I haven’t broken the washer or anything.

  9. Kayla / Mar 13 2012 1:09 pm

    This kind of makes me wish my wedding dress didn’t have so much beading and stuff. It would be awesome to shorten and dye it but I think it would always look like a wedding dress :/

  10. Andi / Mar 13 2012 1:21 pm

    You are so brave to have done that! I think it looks awesome!

  11. heidikins / Mar 13 2012 5:40 pm

    Oh wow! So awesome! I love this!


  12. Chrissie / Mar 14 2012 1:53 pm

    You are so, so brave (because eek, scary!), but this came out beautifully! I really love the color, shorter hemline, and lining peeking out. It is stunning, and a fantastic way for you to continue to wear your wedding dress that you have now added a new and unique touch to. Great job!

  13. Kate, the Perpetual Student's Wife / Mar 14 2012 3:55 pm

    I really need to take inspiration from this… I got married nearly 5 years ago in the J Crew Avery dress and haven’t gathered the courage to dye yet. And would you suggest hemming before or after dye?

  14. Audrey / Mar 20 2012 5:21 pm

    Completely fabulous! I agree, the lining peeking out looks totally intentional, and I love the dress in the dark plum.

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