How to Dye a Wool Jacket

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Lighter colored jackets are easier to dye.
Lighter colored jackets are easier to dye. (Image: trgowanlock/iStock/Getty Images)

Wool is a versatile fiber -- you can make the fibers lock together by felting it, creating a dense fiber, and you can change the color by dyeing it. Dyeing a wool jacket is a relatively simple process that involves a little bit of time and very little guess work. While dye brands vary in their instructions, they almost all yield similar results.

Things You'll Need

  • Wool Jacket
  • Sink
  • Wool Wash
  • Protein Dye
  • Vinegar
  • Dye Pot

Fill your sink with lukewarm water and a small amount of wool wash. Soak the jacket in the wool wash for approximately 15 minutes, or for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.

Drain the sink. Refill the sink with lukewarm water and allow the jacket to soak further.

Mix your protein dye in the dye pot. Protein dye is a type of dye suited for animal fibers such as wool, alpaca and cashmere. If you're dyeing over a lighter colored jacket, follow the manufacturer's instructions on the dye-to-fixture (usually vinegar) ratio. If you're dyeing over a darker colored jacket, add more dye to cover the pigment already present in the jacket.

Add your wool jacket to the dye pot. Follow the dye manufacturer's instructions for heating the dye pot. Most protein dyes require you to heat the pot over low heat for approximately half an hour to one hour.

Stir the jacket occasionally, gently, to ensure even dye coverage.

Remove your dye pot from the heat source and allow the entire pot to cool.

Soak your wool jacket in a mixture of lukewarm water and approximately 1 cup of white vinegar to set the dye.

Lay your wool jacket flat to dry. Straighten hems, collars and button plackets. Let the jacket dry completely before trying it on.

Tips & Warnings

  • When in doubt, mix your dye a shade lighter than your desired hue. You can always dye more, but removing dye is a complicated process with results that are hit or miss.
  • Always use dye meant for protein and not vegetable fibers when dyeing wool jackets. Dye meant for vegetable fibers, such as cotton, will yield inconsistent and temporary results.
  • Do not vigorously stir or agitate your wool jacket when it is soaking or in the dye pot. Wool needs three things to mat up or felt -- heat, moisture and motion. Touch the wool jacket only as needed to avoid felting the fibers and shrinking the jacket.
  • Your jacket may bleed dye the first time you wash it. This is normal. Avoid ruining your other clothing by washing your wool jacket separately for the first few washes after dyeing.

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