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Tips & Techniques > Dying Buttons

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Posted by: Mandolin82
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About Mandolin82 star
Member since: 5/8/03
Reviews: 23 (tips: 3)
Skill level:Intermediate
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Posted on: 12/13/06 6:33 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 3 people   Very Helpful by 8 people   
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I recently needed some rather odd colored teal buttons for a shirt, and could not found the appropriate shade at the fabric store. I remembered I had a zillion buttons at home from the time I bought a bag of buttons from Fabric Mart so I bought some teal Rit dye instead.


1.Select different types of buttons to dye.
I chose white fabric covered buttons and plastic buttons: gray and 2 different types of tortoiseshell/mottled brown. I didn't bother test dying, as I have lots of these buttons. I needed a grayish teal so I chose to dye brown and gray. I dyed about 10 buttons of each type.

2. Put 1-2 Tablespoons of Rit Dye in a small baggie. Add about 1 cup of hot water and swish until the Dye is dissolved.

3. Add the buttons and swish them around for about 5 minutes, or until they look a bit darker than you want.

4. Rinse the buttons in a strainer in the sink until the water runs clear. If they are not dark enough you can put them back in the dye.

5. Wash and dry the buttons in a mesh laundry bag.

One of the button types (one of the mottled brown), turned out to be a perfect match for my fabric. The other 2 plastic types turned out well also and I will save them for another time when I need teal buttons. The white fabric covered buttons washed out when in the washing machine - I think the fabric must be polyester.

I think this works best if you have masses of buttons that you can dye without worrying about the outcome. I got mine by purchasing a 4 lb. bag of buttons from FabricMart Fabrics for $5.00 (I'm not associated). There were LOTS of duplicates - 10-50 of many different types of buttons. I've seen bulk buttons sold elsewhere also.

I hope to get a picture attached someday, but if I wait I may never post the hint - and I think it might come in handy for someone. I also cannot attest to the longevity of the dye. They didn't fade in the washing machine so I think the color will last.

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KathleenS said... (2/22/08 9:32 PM) Reply
Great tip.
sewanista said... (12/29/06 7:43 AM) Reply
When I worked in the sampling department of a childrenswear manufacturer, we dyed all our buttons with Rit dye. We used white plastic buttons which we bought in bulk and we kept a notebook with a sample and the exact formula. We used a deep fryer with water instead of oil, and boiled them for a while, which set the colour. I like your method, though, there's much less to clean up.
CSM--Carla said... (12/16/06 11:17 AM) Reply
WHAT a good idea--I have wondered about dyeing these buttons too! I bought that same bag of buttons. Nice to know we now have so many options! Carla
Susan M said... (12/14/06 6:22 PM) Reply
Great idea! I'll keep this in mind for future button needs. This sounds easy and not a big fuss.
edube said... (12/14/06 1:23 PM) Reply
Excellent idea--it would never have occurred to me. thanks!
Stitchology said... (12/14/06 11:46 AM) Reply
What a cool, easy and useful idea. Thanks.
Nancy K said... (12/14/06 10:14 AM) Reply
I was wondering about dyeing shell buttons as I needed some square, hard to find anyway, in a particular color so I thank you for your tip
Jan B. said... (12/14/06 9:22 AM) Reply
Good idea--thanks for your tip.
Peggym said... (12/14/06 4:12 AM) Reply
Great idea will try this out
Seamingly Simple said... (12/13/06 11:24 PM) Reply
I really like your ideas about the baggie for dyeing and about the mesh bag for laundering the dyed buttons. There's wisdom in dyeing more than one type of button: you never know how the dye will take on different button materials, especially if they're not pure white to start with.
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