Introduction: How to Dye a Couch (Lovesac)
Galvanized trash can
Long stick to stir the trash can with
rinse station or utility sink
Ugly couch that comes apart
Rit proline dye (quantity dependant on weight and type of fabric)
Dawn dish soap
Lots of Water
Read all the instructions before starting.
Think about how you are going to go from the dye bath to a place to rinse to your washing machine
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Step 1: Buy a Nice Ugly Couch for a Good Price
We found a nice lovesac series 5 on clearance after they were discontinued. We originally ordered a chenille tan, which we were ok with considering the price of 1600ish for a 9 seat sectional that we could wash all the pieces (kid and dogs) of.
We ended up getting back an email letting us know that tan was sold out and that they only had tan with milkweed green piping. bleh. After negotiating the price to rock bottom (apparently nobody else wanted them) and telling my wife we could get it reupholstered we purchased the milkweed green/tan couch.
So, we got the couch in and started searching for someone to reupholster it. First we had an extremely hard time finding someone who was willing to even reupholster. Second between the massive cost of the fabrics we liked (think more than the couch) and the labor, the quote came in a couple thousand more than we were willing to pay.
We decided to try and dye the original fabric it came with. The fabric is nice and it can't get any uglier.
Step 2: Research and Testing
We did some research. The fabric we have is polyester. The only non-mail order dye options for this is Rit dye more. Unfortunately it is pretty expensive, takes a lot since upholstery fabric is heavy and didn't give use the colour we wanted. We used the charcoal.
Because of this we did some research and arrived at Rit Dye ProLine 5 LB Powder Dye (Black). For a couch of this size we need 5 lbs, but we recommend on weighing the piece you have and using the recommended amount on the instructions.
Step 3: Scaling It Up
In experiment phase we used the largest pot we could find and that could do 1 maybe 2 pieces at a time and it takes 45 minutes to dye polyester.
This is a problem. Every seat has 4 pieces (base, seat cushion, back piece and back cushion), with 9 seats and every batch taking about 1 hour we didn't feel like spending 36 hours doing this.
While thinking of large pot like containers I came up with using a galvanized trash can on an induction cooktop idea. So went off to get a galvanized trash can.
Once I got it home and started filling it with water, I had an issue. It leaked and couldn't hold water. Time to get out the caulk and caulk the seams. You want to caulk inside, outside seams and let it sit for 24 hours. I used OSI QUAD Max. I wouldn't use anything lower grade as you need something that can withstand temps and be water tight after several feet of water. OSI does the job.
Make sure to water test it and caulk any remaining leaks.
After caulking the galvanized trash can we turned on a Nuwave induction cook top and balanced the trash can on top of it.
Step 4: Fill the Can With Water and Heat It Up
Time to get the garden hose and fill the can with water and let it heat up to 200 F. This takes a while. I would recommend covering the trash can to insulate initially with blanket/towels that you don't mind getting dye on.
We started the process in the morning and it took till about 8pm in the evening to complete the dyeing of all pieces of our couch so start make sure you have some time to dedicate to it.
Step 5: Add in the Dye and Additives
Based on the weight of what you are putting in measure out the amount of dye. For polyester, Rit recommends you use 25% more dye than something easier to dye so make sure to adjust for the material you are trying to dye.
One thing to note is make sure you don't over fill the trash can with water. You need to be able to not only stir but rotate and prevent pieces from sitting on the buttom getting dyed different from the heat zones and becoming splotchy. If the dye is not able to get to all areas of the fabric equally it will become splotty so making sure you stir the fabrics around frequently is advised.
Add in the additives. We added in a 1 tablespoon of dawn dish soap as this is recommended online for polyester. You need some kind of soap and depending on your fabric potentially vinegar or salt.
Step 6: Add the Pieces and Wait
Start adding the fabric pieces into the trash can.
Stir (we did every 10 mins or so)
Leave in for 45-60 mins. Choose a time between those two and stick to it to make sure your color comes out consistent for all pieces of the couch.
Note: the color won't be exactly what it will be until after it's washed in the washer. If you have issues with one or two pieces you can redye it afterwards if necessary using this same process to darken it.
Step 7: Rinse and Start the Next Set
Getting the fabric out of the trash can is a bit tricky. It is pretty hot. I recommend thick gloves, a stick, and a cheap basket with holes in it to get it to the rinsing station. We got a basket with holes from the local dollar store. We poured out any additional water back into the trash can and then immediately put it in a utility sink. We ran cold water over the top of the fabric and squeezed it out with gloves on until the water coming out of the bottom was mostly clear.
Note: If you don't have a utility sink you can use, a large bucket with a drilled out hole or a large bin would work just as well as we just let the water run through it from the hose in between squeezing it out.
Once you get all the covers out of the trash can from your first batch, add the same amount of dye as you did to the bath for the next batch of fabric as well as additional soap. Mix. Add more covers and set your timer for your next batch and remember to stir in between squeezing out the bath.
Note: just because the bath looks dark does not mean there is enough dye still available for the next set of couch covers....this is misleading.
Step 8: Wash and Dry
After getting the water to run mostly clear out of the fabric in your wash station. Wash the covers in your washing machine according to instructions on the rit dye.
Machine dry if applicable or hang dry all depending on fabric type.
Step 9: Do Steps 6-8 Until Done. Then Put It Back Together
Do steps 6-8 until all pieces are complete. Reassemble the couch and Enjoy!
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