The art of clothes making is an amazing hobby that for many people transitions into a full business. Creating wearable art is extremely fun, but it does take serious know-how. Working with elastics especially can be tricky, as the materials they’re made of often don’t behave quite like regular cloth. One detail that trips up first-timers is failing to realize how you can dye knit elastic to match cloth, rather than always hiding this wonderfully useful material inside seams.
When it comes to buying elastic by the spool, there’s sadly rarely a choice in color. For the most part, regardless of the knit type, elastics tend to come stock in white, black, or crème. Likely because these are common colors in clothing and also the neutral choices tend to blend into most clothes. Often, inner threads, backing, and linings also default to these colors too, but that’s due to the fact that these elements aren’t intended to be seen except by the owner of the piece.
Elastic is a little different, as there are plenty of garments that benefit from the look of a clean or simplistically decorated shoulder strap. In situations like these, changing the color yourself is the best option to achieve the perfect look.
When it comes to dying anything, the most important factor is choosing a colorant that won’t negatively impact the clothing. Furthermore, dyes intended for cloth fibers may not even work on the rubber, polyester, or nylon that commonly makes up elastics. Commonly, to make the average dye work, acid and heat are essential.
Avoid heat with nylon and other polyurethane-based elastics. Additionally, avoid twisting or pulling on elastics when they’re hot, as this can permanently deform or break them. Acid and leveling acid dyes work best out of the box in general for nylon and rubber elastic. If you’re using a fiber reactive dye, introduce acid manually with white vinegar.
Ultimately, how you can dye elastic is not too different from dying cloth, save for the previously noted details. First, fill a pot with water so that the elastic you’re dyeing is more than covered. For non-nylon types, bring the water to a simmer. Add in the needed dye and water. If you’re unsure of how much of either will produce the needed color, it’s a good idea to test with extra bits of elastic.
Let them soak for a minute before checking; the wet color will always dry lighter, so keep that in mind when you need a very dark color. Wet the elastic you want to dye before adding it to your pot. Let the elastic soak for up to 10 minutes to ensure the color thoroughly sets in and every inch is evenly dyed. Afterward, carefully remove the elastic and let cool and dry completely before handling extensively.