Dying clothing black for the gothic look

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When you decide to fully go into the goth world, one temptation is to throw out all of your clothing and to start anew, making sure to only buy black items. However, by investing about two hours of your time and a very small amount of money, you can breathe new life into many of your clothing items.

Do note that I think it’s a bad idea to turn everything in your wardrobe black. After all, on many outfits a bit of contrasting colour can look good. For example, wearing all black other than a red shirt. The instructions, and effects you can get here, however, will work for any colour.

You don’t have to just dye plain clothing ether. Some really great effects can happen when you dye more patterned items. For example, I ave dyed pattern shirts black and been really impressed with the results at how the patterns change.

Additionally, sometimes the stitching also remains the same colour, as will any buttons on your clothes. So let’s say you decide to dye a pair of white trousers black. What will happen is that all of the white stitching will remain, giving you a great little highlighting effect across the seams.

Once you dye your old clothing black, and see the results, you will also start looking out for items in shops that you think could look look with the same kind of treatment.

So, how do you get started? Well…

Step one: Buy your dye

Although you can use dye without washing machines, or different brands, in my experiments I have found that Dylon Black Dye works the best. As long as you follow these instructions carefully, you also don’t have to worry about messing up your washing machine or your next washing load.

Step two: Weigh your clothes

For the best results, you want to only put in up to 600g of fabric into the wash. Each fabric will also react to the fabric in a different way, but I have achieved great results with both denim and cotton. On some ways, experimenting is the only way that you will be able to find out what works for your tastes and what doesn’t.

Step three: Preclean your clothes

Even if you have never worn them, or you have brought completely new items to try dying black, you do need to run a pre-wash before even touching the dye. This is because there could be small, micro-stains you haven’t noticed or, if the items have been in a shop for a while, it is also possible that some marks have appeared while they were out on the shelves.

You can also put on your normal load (that is, clothes that aren’t going to be dyed) during this step to help save time and make the best use of your water and electricity.

Step four: Load up the dye and select the right settings

Once your clothes have done their first cycle, you will now want to put in the dye. Don’t be shy about using the whole packet. Just open it up and put of all the powder on top of the pile of the clothes in the drum.

Whatever you do, don’t put the power into the washing machine drawers. I don’t know what happens if you do, but I imagine it’s not pretty.

Once this is in, you want to set your machine to 40 degrees c and simply start. If you have options for how long you want your wash to start, or how intensive you want to it to be, simply set it to normal.

Try not to stare at the washing machine watching what’s happening to your clothes inside

Step five: One last wash

And now is the last wash to lock in the dye.

I tend to not put in any detergents or powder for this step still. This last wash serves two purposes. Firstly, it helps to make sure that the black dye stays into your new clothes, so that you won’t have the problems of your blacks fading. Secondly, in insures that all the black dye has left your washing machine,so that when you put in a batch of new clothes, you won’t have a problems with them also turning black (if this is something you don’t want to go for, of course!)

Even with this, during my next wash, I try to remember to do an all black load just incase. I mean, I have done multi colour after this step, and never had anything bad happen to the clothes, but always better to be safe.

Step six: Admire your clothes

With everything now done, you can simply hang up your clothes to dry. It’s always better to do this, as opposed to using a tumble drier, as you will be able to preserve the black dye for a lot longer, and of course, it is a lot nicer on the environment than the alternative of running a tumble drier.

Of course, this is likely to be the first point when you get to see properly how your clothes have come out, so also take the time to appreciate the new items in your wardrobe, as well as to start thinking of what your next dying project will be.

(Header Image By Steve Johnson (Flickr: minimal-clothes) [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr).

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