Dyeing Sofa Covers
This is a good way of being able to revamp a tired looking sofa, or just change the colour to blend in with your new living room decorating scheme. It can work out much cheaper than buying a new sofa or set of covers and enables you to do your bit for the environment by recycling your old sofa instead of sending it to landfill and buying a new one.
Considerations to take into account:
1. Does the original colour need stripping out first? Maybe your new colour is paler, a completely different tone or badly faded. Its very important to remember, as with decorating, preparation is the key to a successful result and if you try to apply dye to an unevenly faded base colour this will still show through.
Never use chlorine bleach this will damage your fabric, use a dye-stripping agent recommended by your dye supplier. Printed fabrics seldom strip and the patterns will show through on all but the darkest colours.
2. A stripping process prior to dyeing can also incorporate a washing process to try and remove anything from the surface of the sofa that may interfere with the dyeing or still show through after dye.
Examples of potential problems are:
a. Unevenly worn stain resist or flame retardant e.g. if you’ve only washed the cushion covers and not the sofa base in the past.
b. Various spills and stains that could either block dye or accelerate the dyes uptake in a localised areas (some dyes are attracted to grease/oil).
3. If you were going to use a washing machine I would suggest some points to consider:
a. There must be sufficient room for the material to circulate freely to avoid uneven and patchy tie-dye effects. The drum should be no more than half full.
b. If the load has to be dyed in several batches these must be weighed accurately to as close as the same weight as possible and the corresponding quantities of dye must be in direct proportion to the weight of each batch.
c. The above point also applies to the preparation/dye strip phase uneven preparation will give uneven dyeing..
4. Handling dye powders can be a very messy job, follow all recommended safety precautions from the dye supplier. Be aware that it is very easy to contaminate other fabrics e.g. avoid any drafts that may pick up dye particles and either deposit them on other fabrics or surfaces that may then cause problems later. Clean all surfaces before and after and use suitable protective clothing.
The above point can be illustrated with a case I witnessed where dye powder got onto someone’s hair and they were noticing coloured spots developing on everything they looked at for the rest of the day.
5. If you have dyed a dark colour in your washing machine run several dark loads through to help reduce the chance of residual dye staining pale colours.
6. You need to know the fibre content of your sofa to check for suitability. Cotton, linen and viscose will accept dye readily with the relevant home dyes. Synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon will not dye and will at best just stain to a very pale version of the illustrated colour.
Combinations of cotton and polyester will dye to a paler version of the colour illustrated and will be in proportion to the percentage of polyester.
7. Following on from point 6. Any visible polyester sewing threads will neither strip or dye and will remain the original colour.
8. Be aware that shrinkage could be an issue, if the covers have been previously washed successfully this is an indication that any shrinkage should be acceptable.