Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Old Sneakers New

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Full disclaimer, I actually took on this… can I call it a project? I’m not sure, let’s call it a mini project, anyway, it was completed back in mid-February before I went to the States. Remember that, travelling not only outside your own front door but to an airport and overseas! Yeah, feels like a distant memory to me too. ANYWAY…. I had a pair of cheapo white sneakers kicking about and although I love white sneakers to go with pretty much anything, these ones had an undortunate meeting with my friend’s dropped glass of red wine and then a questionable CityMapper route suggestion that turned out to be a playing field on a particularly wet evening.

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Exhibit A...

In combination with being unemployed and trying to not spend money on things and a personal pledge I’ve made to try and extend the life of my clothes and shoes through repair or alteration that meant no new sneaks for me, however versatile a white pair might be. So I dyed them.

I didn’t know if this would work- I was fairly confident the canvas of the shoe would take the die, but not sure it the toe caps and soles would stain, I also wasn’t sure if the colour would be even thanks to the multitude of stains and marks, but I bought myself a Dylon Pod in a colour even more versatile in my wardrobe than white, and incidentally a colour I’ve never seen sneakers available to buy in either… Forest Green.

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Not bad right? For £6odd, a couple of wash cycles and a bucket load of time to dry, as good as, no, BETTER than new sneakers- because anything this colour green will be superior to its equivalent in any other colour.

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I used Dylon Dye Pod in Forest Green- it cost me around £6 from eBay and there’s over 20 different colours. They’re also available on Amazon, from Wilko, Hobbycraft and lots of supermarkets sell dye too. Although there are lots of machine dye options out there, I’m a fan of these because they don’t require adding salt to your washing machine or preparing in hot water first. It’s as simple as unwrapping the pod and throwing the whole thing in the drum with your items. This isn’t an ad, Sarah from ESSBEEVEE used these on *that* Zara dress last year and I was inspired.

A few things to note:
- The Dylon instructions say add ‘damp’ items to the machine with the pod. I washed my sneakers in the machine first, so they were very wet, but it doesn’t seem to have hindered the process.
Manufacturers would almost always say you shouldn’t wash shoes in the machine as it degrades the inners. You might find with sneakers that machine washing them (you’ll need to wash them with the dye and again after the dye run at least) that the inner sole lifts a bit or the rubber part which provides stiffness to the heel starts to disintegrate
If you have a few things you’re planning to have a go at, check the Dylon spec for how much dye you will need based on the weight of your fabric. I only put my one pair of sneakers through with one pod, but it could easily have done two pairs or one pair and a couple of smaller items
You might have noticed the white stitching on my now pleasingly green sneaks is still showing, which I love, it was an unexpected bonus. It’s because the dye won’t take to anything that is 100% synthetic, and I very much enjoy the fact that they look like they were always this colour because of the stitch contrast. Worth noting if you’re not keen on a contrasting stitch.

- In my case, the dye cost almost as much as my original pair of sneakers (Aldi middle aisle FYI), but one important thing I wanted to make with this DIY/Repair/Upcycle/Project is a change in approach to disposable living. I’m not afraid to say that I’ve been a follower and consumer of fast fashion nor that despite having some decent skills with a sewing machine I would get rid of a t-shirt with a hole in. We are all on our own journey when it comes to learning how we can make positive changes in the way we consume things, and one decision I made last year was that I would attempt to repair any damaged clothing or shoes before recycling them (re-use before recycle) and if I were to buy any new clothing (something I’ve been trying to avoid), I would only buy items I would be prepared to and that were of sufficient quality that I could repair them.

I’m fully aware that dye comes with its own environmental impact, but I personally believe it’s better to keep my items in use for longer before they are recycled, so here’s a few other ideas on how to refresh some of the things that might be lurking in your own wardrobes…

Black and Navy dyes are a great way to revive faded dark trousers, especially those which show fading around pockets or seams. See also black jeans that might be more grey than black.

White or cream items which are stained or starting to yellow/grey from wash and wear take colour really well and will take anything from a pale lilac to a vivid cobalt thanks to the neutral base. This is especially useful if you have any items in your wardrobe which are tricky to match, why spend time and money hunting down the perfect shade of pink to go with that skirt when you can extend the life of something you already have?

Simple patterns like spots and stripes are often retained if they’re printed onto fabric as opposed to woven in, and turning a white spot into something exciting on a black background is a fun switch.

Lightweight curtains (often decorative ones) in a sensible shade of beige could be the new lease of life you need for your living room (especially if you’re currently spending all your time there), adding a splash of colour to a room can completely change how it feels.

Right, my washing machine is shouting me, as some of Tom’s summer shorts have come out of storage and are getting a refresh via some dye, here’s to the extended life of all our favourites, or just a change to your favourite colour.


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