First thing I did was remove the elbow patches (I'll show you why later). I used a seam ripper since this top is 60% rayon, 40% cotton (i.e. NOT delicate and liable to be damaged with a seam ripper). Don't worry, they were easily resewn afterwards.
Then I bleached it. Why? To remove as much of the grey as possible. Dying over the grey would mean I'd just end up with a bold greyish tint. Ideally, you'll want the item bleached white. I was surprised to find that when I bleached this, it bleached to a light pink tint! So, what I did then, was decide to work WITH that, and chose a bold, magenta pink dye, so that it wouldn't dull out the color I'm putting on top of it. So if you dye something it turns into some strange shade of orange, dye over it with a bolder Type 4 orange, and so forth. If you're really bent on dying something a certain color, go for it, but accept that you might not get ideal results (you might not anyway no matter what, dying is just finicky like that).
As for the dye, there are some dyes I prefer over others, and I love Jacquard brand dyes (purchased from Amazon). They give me a richer, bolder color than RIT. But this comes down to your own personal preference.
When I am dying something to a bold hue, I mostly follow the instructions on the package, except that I intentionally either double up on the amount of dye, and/or use the BARE MINIMUM water I can get away with to still be able to swoosh my garment around in the pot (also, I have WAY more success doing this on a stove top than a washing machine, because I can get the water temperature WAY higher, and cleaning up a pot is way easier than cleaning up the interior of a washing machine).
Be prepared to spend some time just letting the garment simmer. Take all the time you need. I also recommend that after you rinse, do a vinegar rinse, to help seal the dye. As a precaution, wash your newly dyed item separately though. Sometimes the dye will still bleed a little when washed, and you don't want to end up tinting all your clothes.
Here is what my top looks like now!
I did mention that my top is 60% rayon and 40% cotton. The Jacquard dye I used is for cotton, and I STILL got a great result. Normally though, if something is part rayon (and a substantial part rayon), you have to dye the cotton, and then dye it again using a dye meant for synthetics, but sometimes you get lucky and the rayon dyes too anyway.
In sum, here are my tips for dying clothing:
- Don't attempt to dye an article of clothing that you would be really sad about being damaged or unwearable afterwards. I personally have a 50% success rate with dying clothing, and I've been doing it for years. If you are really attached to an item, have it professionally dyed, or just wear it even if it's not your correct color, if the risk of ruining it is not something you can stand.
- Cotton dyes the best! If it's 100% pre-shrunk cotton, and white, you're probably going to get the color your want.
- Unless you are dying it a darker color like black or navy, bleach the garment. Get it as light as possible.
- Add salt to your dye mixture. For whatever reason, this helps.
- Never add dry clothing into your dye mixture. Soak your garment first in regular hot water, and THEN put in your pot. It helps prevent uneven, splotchy dying.
- Use the bare minimum amount of water to allow the garment to move freely while dying. Don't water down your dye! You can also use extra amounts of the dye as well. I often double up the dye when I am dying something a bold color.
- Sometimes you have to dye something twice. If you don't get a bold enough color the first time, try again. Literally just dye it over again. A lot of the time, that fixes it.
- Wear old work clothes or an apron or something similar. Sometimes dye splashes. You don't want to ruin your clothes with splatterings.
- Use gloves, or tongs, when handling your (very hot) garment during the dying process.
I hope that information was helpful! I have found that I could save a lot of money by simply dying an article of clothing instead of buying an entirely new item, but that really depends on the price point of your clothes, and whether or not any part of this process appeals to you!