Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Great Grandma's Chair: Fabric Dyeing Furnature

Using Fabric Dye on a Crush Velour Rocking Arm Chair

This chair is probably the most comfortable chair I will ever own. It rocks, it swivels, and it is very soft fabric. I have no desire to get rid of it. However, it was the most ugly puke green from the 70's ever. This chair, along with the matching puky gold one my parents kept, have been in our family as long as I can remember. My great grandmother passed away when I was very young and I only have a 1 second snapshot memory of her sitting at my grandparents house before a big family dinner. From stories I have learned that she was a great woman.

Since the chair was such a horrible colour my mom fashioned up a temporary covering out of 2 black shag rugs. It was semi-fitted, so it didn't look terrible, but I had to adjust back into place every 2 weeks or so. Eventually the temporary cover became permanent, and some time after that the black shag started to fade and was more of a dark brown.

Considering that I have a bright beachy themed home with light blue, white, and green, the black shag stood out more than I would like. I knew I wanted to do something, but I didn't know what.

Since chalk paint is all the rage, though I had only bad experiences with it, I decided to try it on the bottom of the cushion. As I expected it was VERY crunchy and horrible.

Did I mention that the fabric is crush velour. I think the appeal of the chair is the texture of the fabric.

Here is a close up of the original color. Its just not for me


Fabric furniture

Paint Brush

Spray Bottle

Bleach (optional)


2-3 Packages Fabric dye

Hot water

What I did:

I first bleached the chair. I did this because It was a darker color, and my original plan (though you will later see that didn't pan out) was to have a nice bright blue color. 

Fill a spray bottle with bleach and water and sprayed 2 coats all over the chair. Get in every crack. If you use a very strong mixture consider rinsing with just water to prevent the bleach from eating the fabric.

Once it is dry examine the color. This is the step I missed. Fabric dye mixes with the current color of the fabric. After bleaching, my chair was a goldish color. I used blue dye. Blue and gold make green (the original color). You can see this in the picture below. The bottom half is just bleached and the top half is wet dye (it lightens as it drys). 

Once you have considered what color you want to achieve, and that its possible, mix the dye with water. The instructions say to use a LOT of water. I wanted a strong mixture so I just filled the ice cream bucket with 1/2 a package. I used a paintbrush to apply, because I wanted to really rub it in, but a spray bottle would work as well depending on the texture of the fabric. Let it dry in a warm room. I was in a shop in winter so I left a heat lamp pointing at it. It was dry in 12 hours. 
This is after the first coat. See how much it lightened, and how close to the original color it was. 

I applied 2 more coats; 3 coats in total. 
This is after the second coat

Here is after the final coat.

The fabric is still just as soft as it was when I started! 
I still need to fix up the piping on the arms that have warn down over time, but it could be another 5 years before that becomes a priority. I decided to use a burlap cushion cover to lighten it up a bit. 

I am very happy with the end result. 

You might be wondering what happened to all my friends with white pants or shirts that sat in it. Well I was worried for them, so I left some white rags on in for the first 2 weeks while we used it and there was no color on them at all!

I would highly suggest fabric dye for your projects. Its very low cost, and very great reward!