Sunday, August 21, 2011

How to Dye Buttons

All of these buttons were white before dyeing. 
I'm expanding my line of dyed, recycled buttons in my Etsy button shop.  I'm working primarily with white buttons from my mother's and sister's button boxes.  They are typical old buttons saved from clothes and there are a lot of them.  
Marbled buttons dye well also.
It's not hard to dye buttons.  I use Rit liquid dye because it's readily available.  Here's the process that is working for me. 
1.    Wash the buttons and a small plastic container.  A 12 oz container works well.
2.    Put about an inch of water in the container.
3.    Heat water in a microwave until it boils.  Don't skip this step.  Dyeing doesn't work well without heat.
4.    Add liquid dye to the container.  Start by adding about 4 tablespoons.  You can always add more if the colors aren’t bright enough.
5.    Add 20-40 buttons.  The number will depend on the size of the buttons.  You want all of them to be submerged in the dye. 
6.    Let everything sit for 15 to 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally with an old chopstick or plastic spoon.
7.    Check the color of the buttons.  If you want the color to be darker let the buttons stay in the dye for a while longer.  Or add a bit more dye. 
8.    Remove the buttons from the dye with a plastic spoon.
9.    Pour what's left of the used dye & water mixture back into the bottle to reuse.  The contents of the bottle will be a bit diluted but it seems to work just as well. 
10.    The buttons must be well rinsed or they will stain fabric when wet.  I soak mine in a bucket of water overnight. 
11. Rinse till the water runs clear.
12. Let them dry.
13. Looking at your transformed buttons is the best part.
Fortunately there are lots of large buttons to dye.

And plenty of shank buttons.
 These buttons will be added to my shop stock over the next few days. 


flyingbeader said...

Great idea. I bought a bunch of old white buttons at the B&B show. Now I know what to do with them. Thanks.

Emily Eckel said...

It really is a lot of fun to dye buttons!