Monday, December 15, 2014

DIY: Ikea Tub Chair Makeover

Every now and then a project turns out exactly how you had it planned in your head Well...this wasn't one of them, lol! Ultimately I'm content with the finished chair but this project was not without its curve balls and wtf moments! So what follows is by no means a definitive "how to" but more of a "what worked well and what didn't" and what I learnt along the way.

Ah, the ubiquitous Ikea Tullsta tub chair! Currently retailing at £80...this one cost me £0. A freecycle result about 18months ago :)  I had planned to reupholster it but it ended up just sitting in a corner all that time while I pondered how I was going to approach the whole thing. Then it occurred to me....fabric dye! So I googled...there's a few bits out there about dyeing chairs. Enough for me to know it was possible but not enough to have a tried and tested route to follow. So I kinda winged it...as is my way, lol!
Once I had a plan in my head I gathered my supplies. Rit dye, clean empty spray bottle, car sponge, paintbrush, gloves, salt, and a funnel. I covered my work area in cut up bin bags...this is a messy job!


I started by detaching the seat pad using a seam ripper. It's attached to the main body of the chair by means of a fabric "hinge". I used the underside of the cushion to test out my colour mixing until I arrived at the colour I was aiming for. I used one bottle of navy liquid Rit, and a pack each of black and wine powdered Rit dye in 10 pints of water. So a very concentrated solution. Everything was mixed in a big stockpot on the hob with the addition of half a cup of salt (in hindsight possibly too much salt...you'll see why further down) brought to a simmer and then kept hot while I worked...

I used two application techniques on this project. The first was applying the liquid dye with a paintbrush. I started with the seat pad here. Applying the dye generously so the seat pad was really soaked in it and overlapping my brush strokes to ensure even coverage. Then while the dye was still wet I used a sponge in brisk, firm circular strokes to even out the coverage and eliminate the brush marks...

The second application technique I used was to decant the dye liquid into a spray bottle. This was a much quicker technique but allow me to share a few tips! Test the spray pattern of the bottle you're intending on using. You want one with a larger more diffused spray pattern as opposed to a jet of liquid.  Also make sure the dye liquid is cooled a little first. If it's too hot when it goes into the bottle it will cause the plastic to "suck" inwards and distort with the heat which in turn can mess up the pressure inside the bottle...if the nozzle gets a little drippy and blocked after a while...just soak in hot water and flush through with clean hot water....using this technique I covered the whole chair in about 10 minutes...overlap each spray area with the previous one for thorough coverage...

I started with the inside of the chair and worked my way round to the back. When I was done spraying I used the sponge again to really rub in the dye and even it out...

What astonished me about this was how much lighter the finished  colour was once it dried. It was by no means the solid, rich, dark colour I was anticipating when I mixed the dye liquid! It looked soooo dark when wet, and at least 10 shades lighter when dry! I used 3 coats in total. Pictures in order below. The one on the right is the third coat, still wet....

The second problem I encountered was this! (Cue agonised screams of "noooooo!" when I came down to THIS the folowing morning!) I suspect it's because I used too much salt in the dye bath for the amount of liquid. When the 2nd and 3rd coats dried I was left with these crystalised white patches. I first of all tried a mix of white vinegar and water wiped over the offending spots. Vinegar is supposed to dissolve salt. It lessened the white patches but didn't eliminate them. My eventual saviour ended up being good old baby wipes! I gave the chair a thorough rub down with baby wipes and bang...white marks gone! (Cue sigh of relief!)...

Now for the legs. This part DID turn out exactly as I'd envisaged and I'm super pleased with this part :) I used Kobra paints in matte black and copper. Go outside for this! These paints have a larger spray pattern than other brands I've used but coverage is awesome and these are substantially cheaper than larger brands too. I think this brand is gonna be my new go to :) I stuck the legs upside into a wodge (real word;) of polystyrene foam to hold them while I sprayed...

First just one coat (told you, awesome coverage!) of matte black. Then I masked off everything but the tips and sprayed those copper...

And there you have it! Not all smooth sailing, not perfect, but ultimately I'm pleased with the end result....(I love the way the copper bands reflect in the flooring)...

And lets face it...it looks better than it did before! Oh, and one final step...once completely dry (I allowed a few days) check for dye transfer by rubbing with a white cloth...mine was fine but if in doubt, spray with Scotchgard to fix the dye in :)

Monday, December 01, 2014

DIY: Dyed Leather Gloves (inc DIY leather conditioner & cleaner)

 As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a stockpot of the Rit Dye simmering on the stove whilst I worked on another project. (Deets of that to follow soon I promise. Just waiting for some decent daylight to photograph it, as it's soooo grey skies here right now it's not even funny! If you follow me on instagram you'll know what the "big project" is...just not the end result ;) Today I thought I'd share another little experiment with Rit dye. Whilst my stockpot was simmering away I began pondering what else I could use all that lovely rich dye liquor for. I like to get value for money! (BTW, did you know you can bottle unused Rit dye liquid once it's cooled and reuse it months later! Apparently so...result, huh?)

Anyway, I decided on a whim to randomly chuck this pair of leather gloves into the mixture...and what do you know? It worked! They didn't crisp up when they dried and the result is relatively even...so I guess...you CAN dye leather with Rit dye!

Essentially I started with these soft leather gloves that I had thrifted and then never worn because the colour never quite fit with any of my coats. (£2 in case you were wondering ;). My dye was already mixed and simmering but as I mentioned in my previous post, was MUCH more concentrated than the instructions required. (The black and maroon powder packs you see + the whole bottle of navy liquid dye to 10pints of water gave me a concentrated dye solution that was an inky blue/purple).
1) Simply submerged my gloves in the stock pot and left for an hour with the lid on.
2) Turn them every 10 mins or so to ensure even coverage
3) Remove after an hour and rinse relentlessly in running water, graduating from hand hot to cold until it runs clear.
4) Leave to dry thoroughly (mine took a couple of days!). I wouldn't personally be tempted to speed this process up (with a hairdryer for instance) as I'd be worried about "crisping" or shrinking the leather. I guess I thought I'd pushed my luck enough having them simmering in a dye bath for an hour, lol!

When they were finally dry I treated them to a bit of conditioning. You don't need special products either. This works beautifully on leather of any kind. Shoes, bags, sofas...saddles!
1) Just mix equal parts of white vinegar and olive oil in a bottle.
2) Shake well and apply to leather using a cotton wool pad
3) Buff to a soft shine with a soft cloth
Et voila! Trust me when I tell you...do not bother buying expensive leather creams again. This stuff really works :)
4) As a final touch spray with Scotchgard or similar

So, here they are, my new, old, gloves! I like that the stitching wasn't dyed and now contrasts with the new colour... and talking of colour...you can just about make out an aubergine tinge in these pics...not what I expected AT all. But I really love it! There are a few areas where the dye got veeeery subtly patchy (like in the creases of the leather) which lends them a slight vintage feel too...I totally knew that would happen of course... ahem...cough...;)

I'm quickly learning with dye projects, not to be too invested in achieving a specific colour. Results are not guaranteed to be what you plan! I think it's better rather to aim for a particular area on the colour wheel and remain open to where that takes you. Sometimes it'll be a triumph! (Sometimes not!) Even though it may be a case of more luck than judgement...shhhh...don't tell anyone that part....just let them tell you how clever you are ;)



NB: as a little "disclaimer" and in the interests of full disclosure...I haven't yet had a chance to wear these out. While I'm confident the exterior is colour fast due to the scotchgard, I've yet to test the colour fix on the inside fabric except a rub test on a towel which was fine...on sweaty hands though it's possible it could transfer and I could end up all Smurfette...I guess I could turn them inside out and use a spray fixative of some kind...but I'll risk it and see what happens I think...will keep you posted on that!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

DIY: Dyeing Buttons experiment...


OK, so I'll start with a little disclaimer. This was me having a play about because I had a stockpot of dye on the stove whilst working on a larger scale project and I thought...what the heck...I wonder what will happen if I chuck some buttons in a bowl, add some of the dye liquid, and leave it for a while. Well...this happens...
As you can see. Mixed results. Those two dark ones soaked up the dye like thirsty camels! The majority took on a pastel/subtle version of the dye, and a few had no reaction to it at all. Presumably this had a lot to do with the material composition of each button. Some synthetics will take dye...some absolutely won't. But if you're not hung up on the results, then this is a kinda fun "see how it turns out" rainy day thing....if you've got another dyeing project on the go...why not just syphon off a ladle of the dye liquid and revamp some old buttons at the same time!

OK, so to clarify this is very much a "this is what I did" post as opposed to "this is the right way to do it" post. So this is what I did...


Firstly, the dye bath that I was using (for this "other large scale project" details to follow) was very concentrated. I bottle of liquid Rit and 2 packets of powdered Rit to 10 pints of water, and was being kept at a constant temperature on the hob. I ladled some off and added it to the buttons in a lidded glass bowl with a tbsp of vinegar (recommended when dyeing synthetics). I then covered and left it overnight. About 18 hours in total. During this time I whacked it into the microwave every couple of hours for about 45secs to keep the liquid warm....but overnight I just left it to cool down....

In the morning I simply emptied into a colander and rinsed thoroughly and left to air dry on kitchen towel.

This was just an experiment. The results were much subtler than I expected, but still pleasing. Perhaps having the buttons simmering on the hob (as opposed to simply soaking in the luke warm dye liquid) would have resulted in a stronger colour. Wooden, horn or shell buttons would perhaps dye well being natural fibres? Still...a good way of getting a little extra value for money out of your dye bath and something I thought you may find interesting and a it of fun :)