DIY: Dip Dye Shorts

NEW SUMMER SERIES:  This summer, Jess Marie will be our weekly guest contributor for DIY projects!  I am really excited she has come on board to contribute to the blog with DIYs because it encourages me to take much needed fun breaks from work on my computer to snap photos for her.  Today she will be sharing how to dip dye a pair of shorts!  Welcome to the blog Jess!

This is a great upgrade project for an existing piece in your wardrobe. I wanted something trendy in my closet for the summer but with out spending the cash. So for about 3 bucks you can do this yourself! This is a great accent piece to wear with a solid bright tank or tee and metallic sandals or bag. These white shorts also had a pen ink stain from the wash and I thought the best way to cover that is dip dyeing them! My biggest caution is: try not to splash! I splashed mine a bit. But since the shorts are white I can probably bleach the splash spots. I also do not mind them not being perfect, it makes them look more interesting and hand made.

Metal spoon for mixing
Dye.  I used RIT box dye in navy.  This is the budget friendly option.  You can buy fancier dyes or organic dyes but you have to buy additional dye setting ingredients.
1 cup of salt
Large metal pot or tub (use something that will not absorb the dye or a tub you do not mind if it does.)
Small pot
Stove or hot water
Plastic to cover work area or floor

1.  In the small pot boil 3 cups of water and add dye and salt.  Turn off heat and stir until ingredients are dissolved.

2.  In the large pot you can heat about 12 cups of water (I just filled my big stock pot half full)  until it is hot (not boiling).  If you are using a tub you can just heat water in a kettle or use very hot tap water and pour into the tub.  Pour the dye from the small pot into your stock pot or tub until desired saturation.  The less water you use the more saturated the color will be.  If you are going for a subtle ombré effect you can use a lot of water and less dye.  But I wanted the blue to be really saturated so I used all the dye.

3.  Take the large pot outside so you don't have to worry about making a mess in the kitchen, and use rubber gloves if you're afraid of staining your hands.  You can dip dye your shorts while they are dry like I did here which creates a nice tye-dye like bleed where the dye meets the existing fabric.  If you want an ombré effect you can wet the shorts with warm water before dipping.

4.  Dip Timing:  I dipped to the highest point for 30 seconds.  I then raised the shorts an inch and held for 1 minute.  Raised again for 5 minutes, and the very tips I let sit over the edge of the pot for 10 minutes. 

5.  Now it is time to go back to your sink and rinse the dipped end  in cold water.  Only do this if it is metal and does not absorb dye.  Porcelain absorbs dye so watch out.  If you get dye on anything you can scrub it off with a baking soda-water paste and lots of elbow grease.  Bleach will not work. 

6.  After you rinse in cold water you can rinse in warm water to get excess dye out until the water runs clear.  Then rinse in cold water again.   Trick here is to keep the dye in its place and not cover the rest of the shorts, or you will lose the effect.  Do not immerse the entire shorts.  Careful to not splash, or dye spots will occur on the rest of your garment.  I splashed a little on accident. 

7.  Now let them dry.  The first time you wash these in a machine I would wash it alone with a rag so any additional excess dye will be absorbed by the rag. 

Thank you Jess for your DIY project!  We look forward to see what else you have up your sleeve for summer projects :)  What do you think you guys?  Are you going to give dip dying a try now?


Anna Zimmerman said...

These look so great! I love this idea. Thanks Jess.

Cassie Nafziger said...


miss teacups. said...

This is kind of REALLY CRAZY! I just ordered blue Rit dye and received it in the mail the other day....I bought it to dip dye my white pants made shorts that I cut recently. I'm doing this project tonight! Hahaha...get out of my head!!

Pleased with how yours turned out and am super excited to do this now!!

Anonymous said...

LOVE!!-Alicia Misener

she. said...

so have to try this:)

Erika said...

what a great idea! I do this with t-shirts and totes and scarves a lot, but I never thought of trying it with shorts! They turned out amazing!