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How to fix faded fabric?

Liz_Kemble | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I am working on a tailored, fully lined linen suit in an olive shade. I am almost done with it — only the buttonholes are left to do. I left the jacket hanging in a well-lit (i.e. sunlit) room for weeks, and when I went to start working on it again, I noticed that some areas had faded. The front is more faded than the back. I have more (unfaded) fabric to make a skirt. Any ideas on how I can fix the color? Needless to say, I can’t wash this article, so can’t dye it as a whole.


  1. Sarah_Kayla | | #1

    Unfortunately, I don't think you can unfade color. You can add stuff to the jacket to distract the eye so when you wear it with the skirt, the disparity of color won't be as apparent. You could add a bias binding in black to the edges if you wanted to go tailored or do something funky.

    I have great sympathy. I once had made a lovely pieced wool crepe jacket for my sister inlaw. i left it for a couple of months... nearly finished and found it motheaten. BLEH!

    What ever you choose to do will probably be a pesky job. You may need to lay it aside for a while until the sting of the disaster is less.

    Good luck!


    1. karen_morris_ | | #2

      *Liz, while you're deciding what to do, why not leave the skirt fabric and jacket backside hanging in the same sunny room? maybe they'll become slightly faded, enough to blend in with the jacket front. i don't see why this wouldn't work....a little fading would probably be enough.

      1. Liz_Kemble | | #3

        *Thanks for your sympathetic reply. Misery loves company!

        1. Liz_Kemble | | #4

          *Yes, I thought of that too. I have since moved, but still have a sunny room. The trick is that the fading is uneven -- the underside of the sleeves, for example, is also darker. I could pin the sleeves up to expose the undersides as well. I had also thought of using a dilute bleach solution to lighten the darker parts, testing it on scrap fabric. But that solution seems more dangerous!

          1. Sarah_Kayla | | #5

            *Dear liz -another suggestionA few years ago I bought a lovely silk jacket with major fading for 5.99. It was a wondeful smokey blue but it had hung in the window of the store for too long. I watered down silk paints until they were a really light wash and overpainted the jacket. I painted the colors a bit darker where the fading was worst. The lining ended up not looking vey pretty. But this was the kind of long fitted jacket one would only wear buttoned up.a young friend appropriated the jacket so I have not seen it for a couple of years. I had made a small enough investment to be willing for it to turn into a wadder - but it was good enough to be taken by a cool teen. It may be an if all else fails solution for you.Sarah

          2. karen_morris_ | | #6

            *sarah, this is a great idea, and an easy solution!

          3. Karen_Vesk | | #7

            *The same happened to a lavender silk dress I was making for a client. It faded in just a matter of days, close to my east-facing window. I ended up taking apart the dress at the side seams and reversing the fabric, as there was no difference between the sides. For some reason, silks in that colour seem to be susceptible to fading, and should not be left out for *any* length of time.For your jacket, could you embellish the front sections? Perhaps fabric paint or applique work?Good luck.

          4. Liz_Kemble | | #8

            *Sarah,Yes, that is a great suggestion. I will try to get some permanent dyes for linen, and paint it on. I can't take the garment apart and reverse it as Karen suggests because it is tailored. And I can't embellish it either for the same reason -- it is a very classic suit. So I will try the painting suggestion. Any suggestions as to sources for permanent linen dyes? Liz

          5. Sarah_Kayla | | #9

            *Dear Liz -You could use either acrylic paint or you could use dyes. The paint may be easier to control. It will also bleed less onto the lining. The disadvantage of the paint is that it leaves a plasticy feel whre you paint with it. You can also thin down the paint - that will cut down on the plasticy feel. Yes, you can use those cute bottles of Liquitex. I would do a simple repeated design, dots, spirals, triangles.... Unless you are a super confident artist I wouldn't try anything really ambitious like say, a night scene of Paris. You may want to cut stamps in simple designs out of a couple of erasers. Yes, you can thin down the paints. You can also do cool stuff like mix your color with a metallic. Don't go for perfection. You won't achieve it anyway. Think about those nifty Bluefish dresses - part of their (very expensive) charm was the lack of perfection in how the designs were stamped on. I think your goal should be to make it busy enough to fool the eye - you could do tone one tone or go for higher contrast. You may want to add some of the stamped elements to the skirt as well. Then it looks like you actually planned it that way and less like a rescue.Dyes are lovely to work with. You can contact the terrific & helpful folks at dharmatrading.com. There are a variety of dyes that will work fine on linen. Some need to be steam set in a special steamer (Or a specially rigged up pot) some need to be set just by ironing, and some just need time to set the color. Dyes are much wetter than paint and you have somewhat less control. If you want to do something precice, go for the paint. If you are willing to go abstract - some lovely brushstrokes over a larger field of coloer, go with the dyes. the dyed will bleed onto your lining. So it really depends on what you want to do. I work with both dyes and paint. If you decide on dye, don't forget to take the texture of the linen weave into account. You can do a simple pattern with a wide brush, a basketweave for example. Again, you will be happier with the results if you don't plan on machinelike precision. (Don't try to do a portrait of your beloved on your jacket.)feel free to email me with other questions. It isn't rocket science. It is just a new way to play with fabric. Sarah

          6. karen_morris_ | | #10

            *Sarah, do we all just LOVE the people at Dharma Trading? I agree that they are wonderful.Another idea is to use textile paints like Deka (there are lots of brands, but I am momentarily brain-dead), mix a color (or two) very close to the original fabric color, water it down, and just paint a very muted, subtle tie-dye effect with a wide brush. This could almost end up looking like an all-over texture, when it's dry, and it shouldn't stiffen the fabric at all. This is another option, Liz, if you don't want to paint a design. Definitely try different ideas first on scraps.

          7. Tish_Hall | | #11

            *One of the dyes that Dharma carries is Jacquard Textile Color. I believe that they carry it in the 'silk painting' section of the catalog.This works on natural and synthetic fabrics and, even though it is a dye, it has the thickness of a tempra paint or a liquid acrylic paint. It needs to be heat set, but I have always gotten excellent results by setting it with a steam iron. I use paper towels for pressing cloths. Occasionally some of the dye transfers to the towel, so I throw it away and use another. I generally do lots of fabric painting in the summer and not much any other time of year. The Jacquard has been great for me. It's easy to use, it cleans from my workspace, I have stored it for a year without a problem, and the color selection is wonderful.Tish

          8. Sarah_Kayla | | #12

            *I find that the deka paints are really easy to use. Their colors are kind of brash & icky. They don't mix that well. When folks use the deka colors you always can identify the exact shade that was used. Jaquard's colors are nicer.Sarah

          9. karen_morris_ | | #13

            *I've used the Jacquard liquid silk dyes, but not these thick ones. They sound good. Thanks, Tish--I'll check them out.

          10. Judy_Williment | | #14

            *One quick comment - you could remove the lining before you paint/dye to avoid bleed-through. If some paint got on the lining it might stain clothing worn under the jacket. Removing the lining totally would be a pain though - perhaps just unpick it at the hem and put a towel inside while you paint? good luck.

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