Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dragon*Con onesies, part I: Dyeing.

[Originally posted here on June 23, 2014.]

I was just a couple months pregnant when we moved to Atlanta in late 2012. Nevertheless, I was absolutely determined to make it to Dragon*Con the following fall. I bought my membership early (after calling their helpline with questions about bringing a two-month-old) and eagerly anticipated attending my very first con.

Of course, I would only be two or three months post-partem by then, so that meant no costumes (1. no way to know what size I'd be then; 2. wouldn't have time to make one after giving birth; and 3. not investing money in something that would only fit that one year). But, I'd be bringing Wil with me, so I could dress him up...

I wanted him to be comfortable, so it was an easy choice to keep it low-key with simple embellished onesies instead of true costumes. I brainstormed quite a few ideas across multiple fandoms. In the end, I picked ideas from five different fandoms that could be done in just two colors, so I wouldn't need to buy more than two dyes.

I'd never dyed anything before this project. I pinned several tutorials (this one and this one have some helpful tips), and researched RIT versus Dylon (and settled on Dylon powder for my project). Then I bought my materials and got started!

Materials and supplies.

I bought two five-packs of white Gerber onesies (everything I read online about dyeing said to prepare for a few failed tries, so I overbought) and Dylon powder dye in brown and black.

Supposedly you can dye things in your washing machine or in a stainless steel sink, but I didn't want to risk leftover dye in my washer and I didn't want to ruin the kitchen sink in our apartment, so I used a plastic bucket that I didn't mind getting stained (it survived with only a faintly dark line where the water line was highest). I used a wooden spoon to stir everything and wore rubber gloves. You'll also need a glass measuring cup (to initially dissolve the powder dye in) and salt.

My first batch was actually the brown one. They turned out more...tan. I did the black ones next, and this time, I used VERY hot tap water, dyed only four of the five onesies, and rinsed them in cold water much more thoroughly, and they turned out just fine. Redid the brown ones, using only three onesies, and they turned much better than they had the first time.


I followed the instructions on the back of the dye packet pretty closely, but used hotter water and left them in they dye a good bit longer.

Stirring onesies in the dye.

After prewashing the onesies and leaving them damp, I followed the instructions to dissolve the dye, filled my bucket with hot water, added the salt and dye, and tossed in the onesies. I stirred them regularly for a good two hours or so.

The stitching stayed white, but I like the contrast, so I was fine with that. I rinsed each onesie out in cold tap water (cold helps the dye set) and put them in a glass bowl while I dumped the dye from the bucket.


I put the bucket in the sink and filled it partway with cold tap water, resubmerged the onesies, and squeezed and stirred them around. I left the tap water running, and every time the water filled the bucket about halfway, I dumped it out and refilled it, working the excess dye out of the onesies the whole time. It took forever for the water to stay clear, but as long as I saw little clouds of bluish black puffing out under the water when I squeezed the onesies, I kept at it.

Black onesies!

They faded a little after washing, but chalk that up to me being new at this and not really knowing what I'm doing! :-P They turned out well enough for me!

Part II: Embellishing coming next! (That's the fun part!!)

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