October 23, 2014

DIY - Rit Dye for a Duvet Cover

My main use of Pinterest is to create wishlists. I'm materialistic to my core. Nah, I'm not using Pinterest to DIY birthday decorations or plan a rustic dream wedding. I'm just categorizing my visual shopping list. But, recently I brought my laptop to work to browse the kids' crafting underbelly of Pinterest with my 7 year old charge, Kiddo, who is a DIY blogger born at the wrong time. She once proudly made me sandals out of nothing but cardboard and Hello Kitty duct tape. They actually worked, too. Occasionally, she asks how I'm liking them, convinced I wear them around my apartment doing whatever it is I do when I'm not making her Ritz cracker sandwiches and telling her that her pipe cleaner art reminds me of Basquiat. (Real exchange I once overheard- Kiddo's friend: "Your nanny doesn't live here? Well, what does she do all day when you're at school?" Kiddo: "I don't know. Sleep, I think.") Kiddo gets an idea and just does it - pop up birthday cards, flip books, doll houses made entirely of printer paper. Girl is industrious and brimming with creativity and just a born DIYer. She's going to be one of those 23 year olds who hand make their topical Halloween costumes and spray paints vintage furniture. Me, I'm the kind of 23 year old who bag buys her too revealing Halloween costumes off eBay and has an apartment that looks sponsored by IKEA.

I knew Kiddo was going to love all the Pinterest craft ideas and I was right. She was pretty much jumping out of her skin as she scrolled through all the possibilities for toilet paper rolls and paper plates. Her excitement kind of made me excited, too. After that day, I decided to DIY rather than buy my way out of two issues I've been having.

DIYing fit perfectly into my recent Quest To Be A More Fulfilled Human Who Makes Better Use Of Her Spare Time. I've been testing out all kinds of alternatives to laying around like a slug while watching Netflix and inhaling McDonald's in bed. I've been brushing up on my Russian and Ukrainian, albeit very slowly, with the help of index cards and several iPhone translation and language apps. I can sound out words written with the Cyrillic alphabet now which probably places me at a kindergarten level of reading comprehension. My pronunciation even sounds pretty good to me, although it's totally likely that I'm speaking Ukrainian with a hideous Jersey accent. I have about 80 books on my Amazon wishlist. I did 15 days of a 30 day squat challenge. Moves are being made over here. So, why not add DIYing to the list? I decided maybe it would be fulfilling to say, "Oh, I made that" about something for once. A big catalyst in that was doing something drastic, something I normally avoid doing because of the dire consequences it can have on my wallet.

I went to Michael's.

Michael's is very much like Target in that you go in for one thing and leave with $3,000 of credit card debt. Michael's is actually worse because everyone knows Target does this. Michael's is silent and sneaky about it and it's worse still because Michael's has comparatively less useful items than a store like Target. Like, is it worse to impulse buy Martha Stewart rose gold glitter, faux fall leaves and puff paint OR laundry detergent, sensible flats for work and disposable razors?

I went to Michael's with one very specific purchase in mind that took me an hour, a checkout transaction, a conversation with my cashier and reentering the store to find. Everything was singing a siren song to me in Michael's. I could easily be a stay at home wife or something if I just went to Michael's once a week. I could so easily have a craft room and an Etsy shop where I sell jewelry and scrapbook in my spare time and just fill all my hours of my days with exhausting crafting. I want to buy everything, no matter what aisle it is or category of arts and crafts. "Ooh, I could do that" is just being said on a loop in my head. Embroidery - "Ooh, I could embroider IRONIC PHRASES ON PILLOWS!!" Stamping supplies - "Ooh, I could create CUSTOM THANK YOU NOTES, SO PERSONALIZED!" Glitter - "Ooh, I could throw that in a pile on my floor and ROLL AROUND IN IT!" I take it up another twenty notches whenever I go down the aisles with paints and bristol board pads and canvases. I say, "Ooh, I could revitalize my failed, abandoned HIGH SCHOOL ART CAREER!" as I inhale all the art supply smells like a former smoker walking past someone with a lit cigarette.
LOOK UPON MY WORKS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR!!!
It's like how I imagine most people feel about Pinterest - just overwhelmed by the endless possibilities. Also, oblivious to the fact that they'll never actually do any of them. However, I managed to stick (mostly) to my list. I did get off course when I purchased these hot pink glitter note cards:
 But they fit my personal brand so well and I really need to start writing more thank you notes.

Also, I managed to remember to grab some of these planter beads to put in my makeup brush jars:
Michael's craft store plant filler beads pellets makeup make up brush holder storage
Because I had been using quinoa for the past year which was a crime of necessity but felt so accidentally twee, like I should be pairing it with brush holders made from burlap covered mason jars. Whatever, the wrong has been righted and now I have those Sephora-y pellets.

Michael's craft store plant filler beads pellets makeup make up brush holder storage
 Finally, though, I was able to find what I needed in the first place. Rit dye to dye my duvet cover.

Dying A Duvet With Rit Dye

Michael's craft store Rit dye powder dye liquid dye petal pink royal blue periwinkle duvet front loading washer west elm pintuck organic cotton shams bedding dying dye

Michael's craft store Rit dye powder dye liquid dye petal pink royal blue periwinkle duvet front loading washer west elm pintuck organic cotton shams bedding dying dye before after
My duvet cover is pintucked cotton and from West Elm, a gift from my mom for Christmas. I love this duvet cover because it turned my comforter into a fluffy cloud.

This is a real, unedited photo of me and my West Elm duvet cover. Unfortunately, this duvet hasn't been totally perfect. The pintucks have pulled apart in some places but no big deal. That can be fixed with a needle and thread. The actual problem was my wall sized window about a foot and a half away from my bed. The original "sea spray" blue color of the duvet had turned dingy and yellowish in some spots after a year of soaking up the sun. I was starting to hate how it looked, especially since the original color was a backup plan anyway after a steel blue version had sold out. How dare you change colors to something worse than my second choice? Still, this duvet is incredibly comfy and a pricey gift to boot. I didn't want to replace it so I decided to dye it. Take that, runner up choice sea spray color.

Permanently dying something large and expensive for one of my first bloggery DIY projects was kind of daunting. Luckily, Rit Studio has an extremely helpful website to hold your hand through the dying process. There are before and after pictures, step by step tutorials, color formulas, dye to water conversions - it's all laid out for you. I decided on a dye recipe called "Periwinkle" for my duvet which consisted of Rit Royal Blue and Rit Petal Pink dye. I picked up 2 boxes of each at Michael's. The dye comes in both liquid and powdered form. I was hoping for liquid because it seemed much easier but Michael's only stocked the powder so the decision was out of my hands. Additionally, the craft store didn't carry Rit Color Remover which Rit advises you to use on your fabric first to remove the original color. I decided the duvet was light enough and I was only dying it from very pale blue to a darker blue anyway and skipped the color remover.

I was pretty stuck on the "where" part of my dying equation since I rent an apartment with communal laundry and very small square footage. I knew my bathtub wasn't an option (it would have ended up periwinkle as well) so I was hoping my kitchen sink would be big enough. The stainless steel would have been stain free at the end and I would have been able to babysit and stir my dye bath to ensure I got even color. Unfortunately, my sink would only hold about half the water I needed, not counting a full sized duvet. I threw my hands up and said fuck it and decided to do this thing in a front loading washer in my communal laundry room, the worst case scenario for dying something of this size and weight.

In all honesty, I was more than half expecting to totally fuck it up. I just kind of woke up on a Sunday and was like, "Hmm, got a clear schedule, guess I'll immediately start dying that duvet just as soon as I finish brushing my teeth." I really cannot emphasize enough how little forethought there was in comparison to the size of the task at hand. It was really irresponsible. I was originally planning to hold off awhile after getting the dye and strategize a bit more but I got too excited and the whole thing got away from me.

The whole situation was probably the worst possible way to dye something. I had to create the dye bath in my apartment, many floors above the laundry room and then transport the mixture down in a cleaned out milk container. As a result it was kind of hard to keep the water hot and fully dissolve the powder. I feel like the liquid dye is probably a much smarter choice. After creating the mixture (and being very careful not to spill it anywhere), I loaded the washing machine with my duvet and shams and slowly poured the dye bath into the detergent slot. Like doing real laundry, except with a much larger potential for disaster. I added a cup of salt, as is recommended for cotton fabrics, about halfway through and then ran the washer one more time after the original cycle ended. It was pretty torturous because the front loading machines lock for a full thirty minutes so I wasn't able to rotate the fabric or check on the process. I just sat in the laundry room with a book and kind of crossed my fingers the whole time.

All in all, I was probably in the laundry room for about four hours from start to finish. I was tremendously nervous about being an asshole who would dye somebody's clothing periwinkle so I took extra time and care cleaning the machine. I wiped every part of it with bleach and cleaner and did about 3 wash cycles of dish rags and old towels to make sure there wasn't any dye lurking inside the machine, waiting to stain an innocent person's clothes. I dried the duvet by itself in a dryer as I did this and it seemed to dry normally.

Then, the results were in!


Michael's craft store Rit dye powder dye liquid dye petal pink royal blue periwinkle duvet front loading washer west elm pintuck organic cotton shams bedding dying dye before after
As you can see, the pillow shams turned out much bluer than the duvet itself. Laughably so. I think this happened because the shams weren't tumbling enough and absorbed the brunt of the dye as it was poured into the machine. Or maybe they picked up too much Royal Blue and not enough Petal Pink because of the poorly mixed powdered dye. We'll never know what went on behind that closed door of the washing machine. I'll have to use Rit Color Remover another time to undo that mess and try again another time. Maybe I'll be able to give those another go in my sink since they're much smaller than the duvet and actually do this whole thing correctly.

The duvet though! Pretty good, right? It's almost a perfect match to the color I originally wanted for my duvet.

Michael's craft store Rit dye powder dye liquid dye petal pink royal blue periwinkle duvet front loading washer west elm pintuck organic cotton shams bedding dying dye before after
All in all, I consider my results pretty impressive given my circumstances and complete impatience about the whole process. I was truly expecting a tie dyed purple look so I'm really happy with fucked up, overdyed but fixable shams and a near perfect duvet. As of right now, I've been sleeping with the dyed duvet for about 3 weeks and haven't noticed any kind of dye transfer onto my other belongings or cancer symptoms caused from inhaling the dye or anything like that. I've been really liking the new color - kind of feels like sleeping in a full sized, snuggly ocean. Plus, it was a $10 solution to update my bedding as opposed to paying ten times that to replace a perfectly good duvet.

I'll have to save my second DIY project for another post because I almost lost the plot to this one as is. Hint: it has something to do with pink rhinestones. That should be of absolutely no help to you because knowing me that could be anything.