How To Dye Your Own Wedding Dress After The Ceremony

We received many an email requesting a little dress dyeing tutorial after I mentioned my wedding dress presto-change-o for this gorgeous wedding. So without further ado, how my very own wedding dress went from “I do”…

… to “party on”…

… in six easy steps:

Step 1- Purchase two bottles of liquid RIT dye in black (I had intentions of taking my dress from white to black). Doubling the content of dye will help a very light item of clothing turn darker in the dyeing process.

Step 2- Fill the sink with enough HOT AS YOU CAN GET IT water for the garment to move around freely. Then add two bottles of RIT liquid dye (without adding the garment just yet) and stir the water and dye mixture thoroughly.

Step 3- Note that the label of my dress says “dry clean only” and that the bottle of RIT clearly says “not for use on dry clean only fabrics”. Think about how I’ll probably never wear my dress again if it remains white and how I called countless local dress dyers (everyone turned me down saying it was “too risky”). Then think about how amazing it would be if this actually worked. Say a tiny prayer (or five) and wet the dress with HOT water before tossing it into the dye filled sink.

Step 4- Freak out a little but press on. Stir constantly (up and down, back and forth) for 25 minutes (you want the water to be piping hot when you start because it works best if the fabric remains in hot water so the hotter it is to start, the longer you can stir the garment in the dye bath and the longer it will soak up color).

Step 5- Remove item after 25 minutes of thorough stirring and rinse with warm water that gradually gets colder and colder (to seal in the color). Keep rinsing in ice cold water until the water runs clear. Then hang dress up to air dry (I hung mine in the sunroom with bucket underneath to catch any errant drips) after saying a few more prayers.

Step 6- Thoroughly clean sink to remove all traces of dye (this was actually more stressful than dyeing the dress as dye got everywhere and I was nervous about our stainless sink and our granite countertops but they all came clean with some good ol’ soapy scrubbing).

Sure my dress ended up a pretty gunmetal-pewter color thanks to the metallic threads that ran through the satin, and not black as I originally planned. Here it is from the back:

And sure as my dress dried in the sunroom it looked totally ruined (and not at all consistent in color). But once it was dry, the color was locked in (no black dye bleeding into my skin as I worried) and for $12 of dye I turned my once-in-a-lifetime gown into a cocktail dress that I can wear time and time again (and believe me, I’ll wear it as long as I can squeeze into it!).

I realize that this entire process could just as easily ended in disaster, so I guess the lesson is to only dye something that you might never wear again and remember to stir stir stir and use hot hot hot water. For other dyeing methods, click here to learn alternate ways to get a hopefully fabulous result. It’s like Russian Roulette, I tell ya…

Happy dyeing!!!


  1. says

    You are an inspiration, I’ll tell you that! I stumbled on your page a few days ago and can’t stop reading! I am so excited for your success and find myself thinking about ways to be more creative in my life. Your DIYs are so great that it is actually putting some motivation behind me! Thanks so much. Also, you look incredible in that dress!

    So very inspired,

  2. says

    Hm, I am really tempted to dye my dress now, but I am terrified. How did you find all of these local dress dyeing places? I can’t find one near me for anything. Is that a Richmond thing?

  3. elizabeth says

    I’m so glad you had a postive dyeing experience! We dyed some Restoration Hardware towels that had faded, and the results were not so good, and we had problems with the dye fading onto other stuff if we accidentally washed the towels with ANYTHING else. After accidentally staining lots of stuff, I finally threw them away this past weekend!

  4. ErinEvelyn says

    The gunmetal color was a happy accident, I think. It’s still classic and seasonless, and one-of-a-kind … and you look so great in THAT dress in THAT color! Bravo for taking the leap!

  5. says

    I must ask..are those the same shoes you are wearing? Also wanted to say the dress is beautiful in both colors. I would recommend someone purchase a 99 cent cheap bucket to dye things in. If the bucket get’s ruined you’re only out 99 cents.

  6. Rowan says

    i think that the suggestion of a large bucket is an excellent one.

    also, as sherry explained in step 3, the water needs to be _hot_ in order to work best. it opens the fibers of the thread to allow the dye to deposit. a trick to try is place the wet article which is being dyed into a microwave for 10-15 seconds.

    the second most important thing she talks about is the process of rinsing in steadily cooler water to close the fibers and lock in the colour. positively rinse until the water is running from the item perfectly clear. if not the result will be the fabric will continue to bleed every time it gets wet.

  7. says

    Fantastic! For $12, you get a brand new dress that’s also fun because you can secretly wear your *wedding* dress to all sorts of events!

  8. says

    This is a great idea. I would love to do this to an existing dress in my closet, but all of my dresses are already colored. But maybe playing with a colored dress would make the end result turn out really interesting…I might have to give it a go!!

  9. julka says

    i am from poland and i just tried dying in a washing machine . you simply but clothes and dying powder – or liquid inside and in the place u should put softener u put some cheap vinegar .( for the colour to stay longer). just turn on the machine on convenient programme for your clothes and wait for a great effect:D also i love this way as u can simply “renovate” all your black clothes ;)

    ps. i love your blog !

  10. Amanda says

    I just ruined my husbands almost new, very expensive business shirt (the classic coloured sock situation) and was about to throw it out but discovered this post just in time. I would never have thought of dyeing it. It might not work but can’t hurt right! Your dress looked gorgeous Sherry!

  11. Nichole says

    love the color.

    others, do not use rit dye, it does not have the staying power that other dyes do. it lacks saturation and will continue to wash out of your clothing. it’s a total waste of money (good for one wear and no washes) use dye brand names like procion, jacquard, or country classics. AND WEAR A MASK WHEN HANDLING ANY DYE!!!


  12. says

    What is your dress made out of? I’d love to know what the lable says. There must have been some natural fiber in there to actually soak up the dye!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Meredith,

      I think it’s 80% synthetic and maybe 20% cotton which soaked up the dye for that smoky gray-metallic look. So glad it worked, whew.

      Hope it helps!


  13. says

    For those of you who commented about things you dyed bleeding onto other fabrics…RIT dye makes a DYE REVERSER!!! Absolutely amazing. I made a t-shirt quilt out of a bunch of old shirts from college, and I had a red one that said “Ciao Ciao Firenze” like a Coca Cola logo. When I got the front sewn together I threw the whole thing in the wash before quilting it down to the back, but the red shirt bled onto the surrounding squares of tshirt. My mom saved the day with RIT dye remover!!

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