I wanted dark gray slipcovers to match my DIY Prakesh tablecloth slipcovers for the remaining dining chairs. I have never dyed fabric before, but as soon a I saw the price tag of the gray Henriksdal slipcovers at Ikea ($40 each) I knew I had nothing to lose. Remember the plain white slipcover I bought to dissect for a pattern? It was only $10. I figured 4 covers at $10 each and a few dollars worth of craft store dye were worth a try. The alternative was $160 worth of slipcovers…I could get at least 3 more naked chairs for that!
If John and Sherry can dye slipcovers over on Young House Love, then so can I. I grabbed the same brand of dye, called iDye, at Joann Fabrics. I chose “Gunmetal Gray”. I envisioned it would turn the covers a nice dark gray with a subtle green/blue undertone. I followed the instructions for dying fabric in a front load washing machine. Normally, I would have been nervous, but Sherry put me right at ease with her similar project and affirmation there was no damage to her washer. My whole process looked a little something like this:
Open the dye to reveal the water dissolvable packet, grab one mixing bowl for the salt and one for the dye, dissolve the dye and salt separately in hot water, dump it all into the washer, freak out a bit that there is dye all over the inside of your washer, throw in the white slipcovers, wash on hot with extended cycle if possible, wait nervously to see how they turn out.
That evening I was eager to put the newly dyed slipcovers on the chairs. They seemed to have a much bluer undertone than I expected. I thought they could still work. I slipped them on the chairs and stood at every angle in the dining room
staring analyzing at them. They were not a match to the gray in the tablecloth, but I did not expect or want an exact match. Not a match was okay, but not even being a gray color was not okay. I decided to wait until morning.
I knew right away when I walked down that morning and saw them in the daylight something was a bit off. They were very blue…like a dark denim blue. They were a nice color, but just not what I was going for. They did not go with the plumage wall color or the Prakesh tablecloth. Everything else in the room has green undertones. Sigh.
I lived with them for a few weeks until I decided it was time to try to change them. I was only out less than $50, so a little more dye couldn’t hurt. I stuck with the iDye brand because it was so easy to do. This time I chose the Color Remover and a new Silver Gray color (the silver part is a misnomer as the package showed a dark gray). The plan was to remove or lighten the original color and then re-dye the slipcovers.
Why does it seem my plans rarely go as planned? The directions for the color remover required the stove-top method of boiling the water with color remover and soaking the fabric. I searched online for other methods, like the front-loading washer method they offer for the dye, but I came up empty handed. Well, I do not have a not-used-for-food metal
pot cauldron large enough to fit even one of the hefty slipcovers in a boiling bath of color remover. All my pots and pans are a modest size and all used for cooking. I decided to throw caution to the wind and try the color remove in my washer. I dissolve the color remover packet in hot water then threw it into the washer with the slipcovers. I ran a hot cycle. It did nothing! It did not even lighten the covers. Oh well.
Since caution was already thrown to the wind, I decided to apply the new gray dye to the still completely dark denim blue covers. It worked for Sherry at Young House Love to go from green dye to mocha, so why not from blue-grey to grey-grey? I also tossed in a plain white washcloth for comparison. Worst case, if the slipcovers were not re-dyed, the washcloth would be the new color and I could tell if it would work on new white slipcovers..worst case. I was pleasantly surprised, the over-dying worked! They came out a dark, dark grey. The washcloth was a hint lighter. I preferred the darker, richer color on the slipcovers.
I love the new gray. It is just a shade darker than the gray in the Prakesh tablecloth slipcovers. The dark gray works so well in the room. Those side chairs elegantly blend in. I think the dark gray will stay clean-looking longer between washes. The re-dye was worth it. Had I not dyed them gunmetal first, I am not certain they would have turned out the perfect charcoal gray I was going for.
In the end, I spent less than $60 for 4 custom dyed slipcovers. Add that to the price of the chairs ($49.99 each for 6), and the tablecloths used for the head chairs (about $20 each for 2 plus $10 broadcloth), and the GRAND TOTAL for all 6 dining chairs was $410!!! Let me say that again…6 upholstered dining chairs for $410!
Chairs really help make this room feel almost done! I cannot wait to throw my first dinner party here.