S1201: Renfrew and an experiment with dye

After travelling from the top of the northern hemisphere to the bottom of the southern hemisphere – please welcome Sewaholic’s Renfrew top! 

This pattern makes mince meat of the simple knit tee we all love to purchase, rather than make ourselves. I feel like Tasia and I are on the same wavelength as we both like to use bands to finish off our hems and the like! This top will be fabulous for relaxing about chez poppykettle. If and when I come across a funky knit print, I’ll definitely make it up again.

This one is made up in a rather boring cream knit pulled from a dark and foreboding stack of fabric bolts at Lincraft. I’m calling this a wearable muslin because whilst I like the top, I ain’t in love with the fabric. But that was the point of this exercise – as I was intending it to be a bit of a canvas… I’ve seen on Carolyn‘s and Dixie‘s blogs their recent foray into the world of iDye – and like a 3-year-old who sees another 3-year-old with a lollypop – I wanted to try too! Grosgrain also has a fab post on fabric/notion dying.

Every single craft/fabric shop I went into didn’t have iDye, but instead Rit Dye or Dylon. I’ll admit, I was sucked in by Dylon’s pretty packaging. They also come in small quantities (50g and the larger 100g). I ended up purchasing the washing machine dye ‘Intense Violet’:

Problem with this fabric is… I had no-idea what it’s content was. So a recon mission back to Lincraft it was. Turns out it was a cotton blend (97%) knit, and according to the dye instructions, non-natural fibre blends (they recommend at least 65% natural fibre) would come up slightly lighter than indicated on the packet. I was willing to deal with that.

This 100g sachet says it can dye 500g of fabric to the intended colour, or 1kg of fabric to a lighter shade of fabric. As my little Renfrew only weighed 150g, obviously I needed a lot less dye, requiring a small ratio calculation:

100g of dye   =      ?g dye  .
500g fabric        150g fabric

?g dye = [100g / 500g] x 150g

?g dye = 30g

So I needed just 30g of dye. The result? You’ll see it matches the little colour circle inside the ‘O’ on the front of the packet (There’s a bigger colour chart on the back):

Next time I make it, I’ll probably widen the upper bodice piece a little, to account for my b-r-o-a-d shoulders (at least, they are according to every pattern I make). The dyed result is nice, but it’s not something I’m going to climb a mountain to scream about from the summit for all and sundry to hear. I’m not sure it’s possible to get vibrantly bright colours from a homestyle dye. 

You can see that the colour is … flat? One dimensional? Either way, the colour my cotton tee turned is all but identical to the colour indicated on the back of the dye. You could get a darker result by increasing the ratio of dye to fabric weight, or by re-dyeing again. 

Not surprisingly, the polyester white thread I used to overlock the seams (after I’d basted them together to check for fit) didn’t turn violet – more a dirty off-white. So if you’re wanting to dye a synthentic, make sure you choose from the non-natural fibre dye range. 

You’ll be pleased to know that there was no dye fallout in my washing machine – it all washed away!

Like my new steampunk brass bits necklace? Then check out Urbandon’s Etsy shop. Or his blog. Either one is equally cool.



  1. oooh I like the lavender color! And I agree, the packaging is good. I'm a sucker for good packaging. When I used to dye my hair at home back in the day I always ended up buying color based on the packaging/model. Not always the best strategy when it comes to hair color at least!

  2. great to see another renfrew. i'm positively itching to try this one. did you feel like it fit you easily without a lot of extra work?

  3. I have my Renfrew pattern too – on my list to do!! Yours looks great with the new colour. Check out Beautiful Silks – they have a DIY video on dyeing, which is on my list of things to do as well.

  4. I too have thought about experimenting with dye – particularly since you can get white silk much cheaper than coloured – but was worried about said 'dye fallout' in my laundry – thanks for the info!! and I think your colour is lovely :)

  5. The renfrew is a really nice cut on you. I didn't realise the pattern had bands. I particularly like the band on the bottom. I haven't had much luck when it comes to dye. Yours however looks very even. Nice job.

  6. You chose right when you bought Dylon, the Dylon you bought is a fiber reactive dye, which means it bonds to the fabric. Rit is not and washes out eventually. However, the best dye (IMHO) is Procion MX (available at http://jacquardproducts.com/procion-mx.html), it is the dye that is used mostly for tie dyed t-shirts and you know how bright they can be. Here in Canada the Jacquard dyes are usually sold at fine art supply stores, so you may want to have a look there. Hope I was able to help.

  7. Dark and foreboding stack at Lincraft XD I have seen those piles of stuff-that's where the Melbourne Museum got their mummified cat from XP always on the verge of toppling over and causing an earthquake in NZ or something.. XS Kudos on the dyejob, I bought a sh*tload of dye from dickblick a couple of months ago and have been wavering for fear of washing machine shenanigans (Carl banned the use of pots and pans for non-cooking needs the minute he saw the dye packs) so this is good to know-I shall get it immediately (got the house to meself this weekend XD).

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