DIY – Dyeing a Polyester Skirt

Posted in Daily Outfits.

After seeing a few of my favourite bloggers wearing it, I went out and (admittedly, impulse) purchased this maroon pleated skirt from Topshop. I wore it once and then let it languish in the back of my wardrobe, clashing hideously with everything else in there. The colour just wasn’t right – too autumnal, too dark and reminiscent of my high school uniform.

Topshop pleated skirt, £38

When it comes to clearing out clothes I no longer wear, I’m not shy. Anything that’s not working goes on eBay or to the charity shop. But I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to those cute pleats, so I decided to dye. Dyeing a polyester skirt is not easy, fun or always successful, so here’s a DIY guide to getting the job done.

Dyeing polyester is tricky. The dye needs intense heat to be able to penetrate the fabric, so shoving it in the washing machine with a bit of Dylon won’t work.


You will need a large pot that can accommodate the item you’re dyeing plus water (DON’T use your favourite spaghetti pot – you can’t cook food in it afterwards), rubber gloves, an apron and a packet of polyester dye. I used iDye Poly in blue which I bought from this eBay seller.


Mix the dye and setting agent (both included in the packet) in water and add your fabric. The water should just cover the fabric. Bring to a rolling boil. Be warned – it smells absolutely disgusting and like it may well damage your lungs. There are no warnings about ventilation or breathing in fumes in the instructions, but I opened all windows and doors and tried not to inhale as I stirred.

The instructions state 30 mins to an hour for the dye to take, depending on how deep you want the colour to be. I gave it an hour but it was VERY dark when it came out, so 45 mins would probably be fine. I stirred every few minutes for a ‘uniform shade’, which I presume means an all-over colour and not school uniform.

After an hour of tireless stirring and one ruined tea towel, I let the water cool and drained the fabric. I then put it on a gentle wash with a tiny amount of detergent. The result?


Topshop skirt, Primark blouse, H&M cardigan, Sarenza shoes, Zara belt

It looks black in these pictures but is actually a lovely shade of dark navy. Unfortunately the pleats are pretty much gone – not sure if it was the dye or the constant stirring that did it, but the fabric is now just a bit crinkled in places. I’m happy with the overall result though, and have already worn the navy version more than the original one.

What do you think – did I do the right thing by dyeing or did you prefer the original colour? Have you ever dyed your clothes before? Share your successes (and horror stories) below.



Looks absolutely beautiful. Beautifully styled with the sunglasses and shoes. I MUCH prefer the colour and the non-pleats. The original on the hanger looked very school-mistress to me.


i love what you have done with the skirt, the crinkled effect looks lovely! maybe it’s the light but if looks even more sheer then when it was a plum colour, too? you look beautiful, the sunglasses are perfect on you!

i bought the same skirt using a gift card i got for christmas but i’ve literally only worn it four times! after i started seeing more and more bloggers wearing it i just kept it in the back of my wardrobe, not wanting to wear an ‘it’ piece.

i don’t really know what to do with it now, i don’t want dye it (though a genius idea! but i wouldn’t want to copy) so i think my only option is to sell! topshop always does well on ebay, doesn’t it? hehe 🙂



school uniform… *shudder*
I have only tried the machine wash dies before to prolong the life of my black jeans.
I think if you’ve already worn the skirt more than now than in it’s original form then you did the right thing – it does look really good.


It looks lovely- the use of heat would have melted the fibres a little bit and caused them to become mishapen as polyester is a thermoplastic fibre- thats probably why the pleated effect was lost.



£38 is an expensive mistake to make! (says the skinflint within me) I’m really glad you were able to rescue it and make it more wearable. I much prefer it this colour too – maroon is difficult enough to wear at the best of times, but maroon and pleats is such a tricky combination. Big thumbs up from me to the transformation 🙂


Great idea for transforming an impulse purchase into something that you’ll wear. I like how it looks without the pleats and the new colour is lovely. x

Penny Dreadful

Well done on the new colour, it looks great. It was the heated water that took out the pleats, pleats are heat-set so if you soak it in hot water they’ll drop right out x

Rocketship In The Sky.

I think although the original colour was beautiful, it’s sooo hard to find the right thing to wear with it in Spring/Summer, so yes, you definitely did the right thing!! xx


You did a great job with this, the skirt looks gorgeous now! I tend to get a bit charity shop happy and have bg clearouts where anything not worn in the last year goes out to oxfam.

I do think I need to be a bit more experimental with my clothes though, and try to diy them a bit more, rather than just throwing out things I don’t wear.


This is a nonsense. Sorry to be a hater but you’ve spent £38 on a poor quality garment, and messed it up by dyeing it, which a small amount of research would have suggested was inadvisable. DIY is about making stuff, not changing the colour of a cheap skirt :). All you yeasayers need to get some perspective :D.

In terms of constructive criticism, in future you may consider buying a cheaper/vintage/pre-loved garment or doing a brief googlewhatsit on what boiling polyester up in dye might do to some presumably threadbare pleats 😉


Aw it’s a shame the pleats fell out, I love pleated skirts. They are such a pain to keep in though and I always hate ironing them on cotton skirts. I prefer the second colour but it looks a bit crinkled from the pleats. Will it iron and smooth out a bit more perhaps? I like the sheer look to it.


I saw this skirt on many blogs as well, but the colour put me off. As well as the fact that I am reminded of school uniform by anything maroon. Good job on dying it to make you more likely to wear it.


Oh wow. Dying clothes is such a great idea: It breathes life into old clothes. You definitely did good dyeing it. If you weren’t going to wear it, dyeing it to a more wearable colour is a great idea! And I loved how you paired it with the light top.


I am going to be completly honest and say I liked the maroon before. BUT! I can totally see what you were saying about it being hard to style.
It looks lovely now, and I’d imagine you’d wear it more though.



I have a hard time dying things basically because I guess I suck at it. I tried dying a trench coat baby blue and it came out all saturated in some parts and dismally pale in others. That’s pretty much scared me off dying for good. : {


I did really like the maroon colour but it does remind me of Autumn, if you have already worn it more then it was definitely the right decision! I bought s bright (and I mean bright!) pink bodycon dress for £5 from Miss Selfridge for a neon party at uni and died it a dark purple afterwards which was much much nicer 🙂

Maria xxx

The Wardrobe Stylist

Absolutely love the pleated skirt. I recently went on a hunt for one and I found a vintage one that needed some work. See you around at the I am one of your followers now 🙂


i actually much prefer it without the pleats! also, did you cut the lining? i love the sheerness over the underskirt!

Annah xx


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