June 4, 2013

What I want for window treatments in our bedroom: a breezy, gathered material, preferably in a muted, mossy olive green color.

Wait, what I really want is just something to block more light while I’m sleeping in on weekends.

I found the most perfect-est fabric at Joann’s. A vision of luxurious, restful weekends flashed before my eyes. But they didn’t have enough in the store – or at any other store in Michigan. Or online. Vision shattered.

Then, David’s mom offers me some brand new panels she bought, but in a color she doesn’t want anymore. Score! Kind of. I was still hoping for the olive green.

Enter: Rit dye. I’ve never dyed cloth before and was so happy for an excuse to try it. The current fabric was tannish. The dye called itself “green apple.” I hoped the two combined would make olive.

Dying Curtains Strike Out from Rachel Schultz

I read the instructions super slowly and took care to do every step exactly as directed. There was one instruction, however, that I willingly disregarded. Do not use on polyester. What were the curtains made of? Polyester.  “What’s the worst that could happen?” I thought, proceeding without a flinch.

Dying Curtains Strike Out from Rachel Schultz

The actual result kind of was the worst thing that could happen, and it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Any guesses as to what? Yep, the dye did NOTHING. Oh, so that’s why they don’t recommend for polyester. I’d post an after picture, but it is the exact same as the ones above.

I went ahead and hung the tan curtains as-is in our bedroom, because at least they provide a functional solution. And even though I do NOT want any more bland beige in this bedroom (or anywhere!), having some kind of curtains makes everything much cozier. (PS: You can see the swatch of fabric I’m testing out for reupholstering the chair.)

Master Bedroom from Rachel Schultz

A brief bit of research showed me polyester has to be at high temperatures to absorb dyes – so I’m not sure that would work for a second go-around. Anyone who’s had success dying 100% polyester, please help a girl out. I’m already out $6 in Rit dye. To see everything about this place we call home, check out the apartment tab.

My New Cookbook



  • Jim

    Rit dye is a no-no. Disperse dye for Poly, Needs to BOIL, yes BOIL, the entire time you are dyeing. Have another boiling pot ready and transfer it over after 30 min to hour depending on darkness. Repeat. Wash. Stains like crazy, extremely potent smell, never use pot or utencils for food again, ever. Only way that works.

  • Emma

    Maybe a little late to the party, but I have a little experience “dying” (it’s actually more tinting) polyester, if you still need the help.

    Quick story: Got engaged, it was a short engagement so had to find something for my bridesmaids FAST. ordered chiffon maxi skirts in a dark crimson red. skirts arrived week before my wedding…. FUSCIA. I was literally out of options, my bridesmaids were in 3 different states, and I was panicking, so to google I searched. Found this blog: ( http://ineptbutintrepid.blogspot.com/2012/04/dyeing-100-polyester-chiffon-bridesmaid.html ). went to Hobby Lobby; bought a bunch of RIT dye. Went to Walmart; bought a huge seafood/tamale pot (their 32 qt steamer) for $20. went home. prepared for battle. and followed the basic steps on the blog, except I kept my skirts on the stove in the dye bath (the pot) the entire time. I used an over-saturated dye bath (like… 6 entire boxes of dye. a little overkill in hindsight I think) and kept it at a high heat (I didn’t have a therm, no idea what the temp was, but it was HOT) just like the blog suggests. stirred it the same, rinsed it the same, and then hung them out to dry. I got them a LOT darker (still weren’t red, but they worked) and they ended up beautiful!

    I totally could’ve done it in a bug plastic bin like the blogger did, but those plastic bins were full of stuff (I was also moving 900 miles the week before my wedding: fun story) and I was so pressed for time I spared the $20 and ruined a walmart pot.

    You could probably also do it in the washer, but your water would have to be boiling hot water from the stove and not just heated water from the washer.

    When it comes to tinting polyester, the key is definitely heat!

    Good luck, and I love your blog! :)

    • Rachel Schultz

      What a crazy/amazing story. Thanks, Emma. That is really helpful.

    • Darlene

      This was very helpful. Thanks!

  • I just painted a leather chair with an acrylic glaze. The flexibility of the acrylic was the key. Turned out fabulous. I’d imagine it could work for curtains.

    • Rachel Schultz

      Great to know. Thanks a lot, Danielle!

  • I’ve done that SO many times; such a bummer to waste the dye like that am I right?!? I’ve never done it, but I’ve heard FABULOUS things about iDye Poly dye (sold in some random stores but it’s pretty cheap on Amazon; this color might work for you). Either way, the tan still looks pretty good there, but I totally understand your desire for color!!!

  • Beth

    Love the curtains ! If they won’t hold dye color, what about finding an olive or mossy colored ribbon and sewing that to the bottom portion of the curtains maybe in a cute stripe or even a chevron pattern? That way you could use the free curtains but still add color. Second thought, would a fabric spray paint work on polyester? Maybe you could try stenciling a nice design with fabric spray paint in green?

    • Rachel Schultz

      Great idea! Thanks, Beth!

Leave a Comment

Copyright © Rachel Schultz 2020