How to Dye Silk & Lace Dresses


Whether it is an old wedding gown or a bridesmaid dress, think twice before you toss fancy dresses into the donation pile based on their color alone. Fabric tints can change the entire look of a garment while you save money by dyeing silk and lace fabrics at home. Natural fibers such as silk and certain varieties of lace require special attention and care during the dye process to achieve uniform results without damaging their fragile fibers. Carefully selecting the right dye and following the dye instructions are pertinent for successful color-changing results.

Things You'll Need

  • Acid-based dye for silk
  • Salt, vinegar or any other recommended additive (follow package instructions for dyeing silk)
  • Large stainless steel pot
  • Rubber gloves
  • Wooden tongs or a spoon
  • Large tub
  • Mesh garment bag
  • Washing machine or sink
  • Hanger
  • Iron
  • Select a silk or lace color dye based on the desired result. Most fabric dyes require one packet per pound of dry weight fabric. Purchase enough dye as necessary.

  • Prepare dye bath as instructed on dye package. Most silk and lace dyes will require the addition of an additive such as salt or vinegar.

  • Put on your rubber gloves and empty the dye packet and additives into the stainless steel pot.

  • Carefully add enough near-boiling water to fully submerse the lace or silk dress below the water line.

  • Stir the dress in the dye mixture using a pair of wooden tongs or a wooden spoon. Maintain the water temperature by adding more hot as needed.

  • Remove the dress with tongs from the dye bath when desired color is achieved. Silk will grab color dye very quickly so be sure to watch the dye process carefully. The longer a garment is immersed in dye, the more intense the end color will be.

  • Place dress in a large tub or sink filled with warm water. Using your spoon, agitate the dress and repeat as needed until the water runs clear. This may mean filling up a tub or sink with rinse water several times.

  • Rinse dress one last time in a cool water bath. As an alternative, you may select the rinse cycle on your washing machine and put your lace or silk dress in a mesh garment bag to avoid potential damage to the delicate fiber or lace detailing.

  • Hang dry your dress out of direct sunlight and heat. Once it is dry, you may press it with a low heat iron or send it to the cleaners for a professional pressing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always follow dye instructions carefully. Different dyes require alternate instructions.
  • Make sure you wear gloves during the dye process to avoid staining hands or suffering from an allergic reaction. Carefully handle the boiling water and ensure no small children are present while working with the high temperature water bath.


  • Photo Credit Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images
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