I'm gonna give you the money shot first so that you'll be interested in soldiering through this lengthy post, heehee.
Ok, so I've been wanting to try my hand at dyeing a pair of my Converse for a long time. But, every time the idea sprang up, I always thought of the same problem. What about the rubber? I thought that if I just tried to be careful and use the dye as "paint", thereby avoiding the rubber problem, it wouldn't saturate the fabric enough to give a good result. But, if I tried an actual dye bath, the rubber would get stained with the dye and I didn't want that. So, I was perusing the internets for a solution and I spied a kind of offhand suggestion on an instructable. Someone in the comments suggested using some art masking liquid to cover up the rubber and then dye the shoes. A little light bulb in my head went DINGGG! As far as I could tell, no one had actually tried that yet, so I decided to be the first. For your enjoyment, I took pictures along the way so that if this actually worked, I could post a tutorial. You will probably notice that I was just making a lot of this up as I went along, but it worked, right?
So, first things first. You need a pair of shoes. Preferably white or some other light color. I happened to have 2 pairs of the exact same Converse in the exact same color so I picked the pair that looked most crappy and experimented with those. These are the kind with no laces, but obviously if yours have laces, you should remove them prior to dyeing.
Here's the masking liquid.
(Ew. My shoes look really gross in that picture.) My husband paints which is why we just had some laying around. You'll notice that it's kind of pricey. He says that it's basically just liquid latex. We also had some of that leftover from Halloween. My 5 yr old was a zombie and my husband did his zombie makeup with it-check him out.
Heh, oops I got sidetracked. Anyway, it looks like this:
It's cheaper, but the masking liquid was already open so I used that. Point being, liquid latex is an economical alternative if you don't already have masking liquid.
I used a paintbrush and brushed all over the white rubber parts with the masking liquid. [Note: for this part, you should either use a cruddy brush that you don't mind ruining or plan on washing the brush immediately after finishing with the masking liquid.] I just started at the top and brushed downward so that I wouldn't get any of it on the fabric.
WARNING: If you get this stuff on fabric, it will not come off. Ever. Just ask my dining room chair following the aforementioned Halloween. Also, the masking liquid smells like a**. Just so you know. I laid out some freezer paper to catch any drips. Anyway, just cover all the rubber and then let it sit and dry. Really the only way to tell if it's dry is to poke it. It still looks shiny when it's dry, so you have to touch it to see if it's gone from liquid to adhesive.
Now, most dyes recommend using heat to do a dye bath. My husband said that wasn't an option if I was going to use the masking liquid so I devised a new plan. The particular dye I used, which was this:
said to dissolve it in 4 cups of warm water. I decided to make it more concentrated and dissolve it in 2 cups of ultra hot water instead. I then let the water come to room temperature. This is a really crappy picture, but see how the dye is dark with a lighter foam on top?
When that foam is all gone, it should be at room temp. See?
So, then I used another brush and painted my shoe uppers with the concentrated dye. Once they were very well saturated, I poured the dye into a giant pot and added enough cold water to cover my shoes. I then wedged my shoes in there upside down.:
The other problem with doing a dye bath with shoes is that the rubber makes them float. So, I put a colander on top of them and put 10 lbs worth of weight plates in the colander.
Problem solved, heh! If you don't have weight plates, just get creative. So, yeah, I let them sit in there for a good long time. About 6 hours or so, I think.
Then I took them out, peeled off the latex, and rinsed them in cold water to get most of the excess dye off. The latex peels off very easily but if you experience any difficult, just use an eraser to rub it off. Here's how they look at that point:
Woohoo!!! No staining on the rubber! It actually worked!! Awesome!! I then tossed them in the washer (by themselves, of course) and washed them in cold water and then dried them in the dryer. I forgot to take a picture of how they look after that, but they definitely lost some color in the washing process. However, they were still very vibrant and bold. Enter the bleach stencil. I decided to go with whales. I don't really know why. It was between whales and cupcakes. So, I used my preferred bleach stenciling method, like so:Basically, I use a Clorox Bleach Gel Pen and squirt some out on a plate and just use it as if it were paint. Then, using a paint brush, I "paint" just inside the lines of my stencil to try to get as little as possible on the freezer paper (to prevent any bleeding). I know some people use liquid bleach in a spray bottle, but I've never been able to do that without it soaking through the freezer paper. So, I came up with this method and it works like a charm for me. Just use the method you're most comfortable with.
Since this was a very small and simple stencil and I was doing it on a shoe, I didn't use freezer paper. I cut it out of poster board. And then I just went to town, bleaching whales on my newly dyed shoes. They looked like they were missing a little something so I freehanded some asterisk/star thingies and some hearts. Then I washed and dried them again and now they look like this:
YAY!!!! I'm kind of in love with them.
So...comments, criticisms, suggestions? All are welcome:)