Overdyed Overalls

So, over the years, my obsession with overalls has led me to the realization that they’re not really known for color. There really aren’t a lot of options: blue, mostly. Hickory stripe, too. White is also an option, but the problem with white is that it’s used almost exclusively in “painters” overalls, which for some reason means that the bib pocket is an odd triangular shape, which doesn’t thrill me all that much.

When I branched out into Carhartts, that yielded a few new colors: black, a couple shades of brown (although I don’t own the lighter shade of brown yet), and a hunter-green pair. This last took some searching, as Carhartt doesn’t make the hunter green anymore. Key used to make overalls in a fabric called “herringbone”, for which I’ve been prowling eBay, but what I’ve really wanted was a nice pair of overalls in a burgundy red.

Which eventually led me to remember this old blog post by a fellow traveler in the world of overalls, and I thought, “Hmmmm…I could do that!” For some reason, I never thought of just dyeing a pair into a new color. Whenever I saw some different color of overalls out there in the world, I always assumed for some reason that the company made those for a while but then they stopped…not unlike this pair of Key overalls Anne Hathaway rocked in the movie Love and Other Drugs:

I figured, at some point Key actually made overalls like that, and hey, for all I know, maybe they did. I own a pair of black Dickies that are essentially overdyed hickory striped overalls.

But after learning, and remembering, about overdyeing, I set out this weekend to do just that. I used three hickory-striped pairs, which looked liked this to start with:

My dyes are from Dharma Trading, and I followed their instructions for tub-dyeing. I did two colors: Maroon (two pairs) and Forest Green (one). I was hoping for a burgundy outcome on the maroon pairs; the idea is that the white stripes take on the dye color while the blue just darkens a bit. The entire process took a few hours, from immersion…

…to rinsing.

The results? Well, the maroon dye didn’t turn out burgundy so much as purple, which is not quite what I was looking for. But I do like the result:
That last photo actually makes them look more purple than they really are, but they’re pretty purple. Luckily, I like purple!
The forest green pair looks pretty nice, though:
I’m pretty happy with those.
I suspect the purple/burgundy ones will look better with dark solid tops; pairing them with tie-dye will likely make me look cartoonish. Well, more cartoonish than usual!
I won’t be doing this often; I’m not looking for an entire rainbow of overalls in my wardrobe. But a few new options is nice, and the process was fun to do.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Overdyed Overalls

  1. Lynn says:

    I really like the green ones.

  2. Jason says:

    Both colors turned out pretty nice, but I'm wondering how you avoided dying the labels… did you remove them and put them back on, or are they made of something that resists the dye, or.. ?

  3. donaleen says:

    Hi this is donaleen from Spit & Vinegar. Good job there! I like the green ones.

    I take the labels off before I dye them. I also make any mods to the overalls before I dye them (I remove the front zipper, I take a tuck in the bib, I shorten them, etc. The thread and the labels are NOT cotton so they don't take the dye as well.

    Anyway, nice to meet you.

Comments are closed.