re-dyeing jeans to make them dark again

**10/12/12 NOTE – This post is a couple years old, but thanks to pinterest it brings in a lot of visitors. I’ve received comments and emails from others who are trying to redye faded jeans. Many folks have had trouble with pants that turn out purplish…some have had better luck with using ALL black dye (no indigo or navy). I haven’t tried all black yet. My recommendation is to buy a pair of jeans from the thrift store that are a similar shade to what you’re wanting to dye, cut them into swatches, and test out different “recipes” before you dunk your favorites*******

Last week I was whining to my friend about my jeans. The cut is great, they fit just right, but they’re alllll faded.  My office is pretty casual, but even so I refuse to wear faded jeans in a professional setting. And faded jeans don’t look right for dressing up, no matter the cut. It felt wasteful to have a drawer full of totally wearable but not-dark-enough jeans. In the future, I can use preventative measures like washing them inside-out on cold, but how to return the already-faded to their former glory???

I found several tutorials online about DIY jean-dyeing. This one (including comments) was probably the best. But nobody had before and after photos. And that’s what I was REALLY after. So I decided to give it a try, and I did my best to photograph everything.

Synopsis – Re-dyeing jeans to make them dark again WORKS, but is only worth the trouble if your jeans have some stretch in them (i.e. not 100% cotton)

BEFORE, 100% cotton jeans

BEFORE, jeans with a little stretch (synthetic) in them

Mix 1 packet navy blue RIT dye, 1/2 packet black RIT dye, and hot water in a 5-gallon bucket. Get your jeans wet, wring them out, and dunk them in the bucket. Keep them in the dyebath for 30-45 minutes.

Rinse the jeans until the water runs clear (at least 5-10 min). Wash them by themselves, on cold, inside out, in the washing machine. Dry (keeping inside out) in the dryer.

AFTER – the 100% cotton jeans. Nice and dark, but the color is almost too saturated. Like trendy jeans worn by people younger than me.

AFTER – the 100% cotton jeans. I still wear them in casual settings, even though the color is kinda weird.

AFTER – the stretch jeans. The stretch fabric contains synthetic white cross-threads, which don’t accept dye…so the final color is very “realistic”. I have started wearing these to work again.

50% success rate isn’t too bad