Upcycling to dye for

Two women, two tops, two bleach stains.

Like mother…

My mum had spilt something on her favourite top – while attempting to get this out in the wash she had accidentally bleached a section of the shirt so it looked patchy and weird (I forgot to take a before photo).

Mum asked me to see what I could do to save it. Her original suggestion was to applique a design over the stain – just no. Firstly it’s a stretch fabric so the applique would be a massive pain to do. And secondly the bleach area was quite large and in the lower third of the top so anything you did would have an odd position.

I thought tie dye was the best option as the spectrum of colours would help mask the stain – particularly if the bleached fabric absorbed the dye differently.

I’ve found that dyeing something a consistent block colour is difficult if you’re using the ‘stick it in a bucket’ method. I believe you can get better results if you do this in the washing machine but I’ve always been too scared to try this.

I didn’t want to go full on Woodstock-tie-dye-madness so decided to aim for a hooped stripey effect. To do this I concertinaed the fabric down the length of the t-shirt. Then wrapped five elastic bands roughly equal distance apart to create the stripes.

Like daughter…

Now the stain on my favourite white top was not my fault! Last time I went to the hairdressers they got some hair dye on it which left an orange smudge right on the front. Obviously as it’s dye there was no way that was going anywhere!

As this was an elastin/cotton blend the dye was going to take in a patchy way anyway so I thought I’d give the ‘all in one’ dye method a go.

upcycling clothes dyeing

Into the blue

I bought the a Dylon hand dye pack in ‘ocean blue’ and in they went.

upcycling clothes dyeing

The result?

After a couple of hours soaking and a quick spin in the washing machine, pretty happy with the results. Mum’s top looks cool, the tie dye is quite subtle and not too in your face.

I’m quite pleased with how mine turned out – it’s sort of a melange mottled look which works quite well.

tie dye upcycling


  1. Catherine, I am a friend of your Mum’s and totally impressed with all your makes, especially as you have come to some of it so recently.
    I had a very successful dye-ing phase earlier this year with clothes in my wardrobe that have been completely refreshed and updated. I now have black jeans (previously faded blue) , purple cotton twinset (previously beige) , red dress and shirt, and a navy maxi dress (previously green). Some of the original features and stitching remain being polyester, whilst the cotton/linen dyes perfectly, but the end result is very pleasing.
    Are you interested in MyBodyModel, an American online tool that I supported in its development phase through crowd funding? I haven’t yet used it myself but would like to.

    1. Hi Helen, thank you, that’s very kind. Sounds like you’ve regenerated a lot of items, I’ve started a pile of things to upcycle for my next dying session.

      Thanks for the reminder about MyBodyModel, I haven’t tried it myself yet but they talked about it on the Love to Sew podcast and I thought it sounded great – I’ll give it a go and let you know how it goes.

      All the best

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