DIY: Dyed Leather Gloves (inc DIY leather conditioner & cleaner)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a stockpot of the Rit Dye simmering on the stove whilst I worked on another project. (Deets of that to follow soon I promise. Just waiting for some decent daylight to photograph it, as it’s soooo grey skies here right now it’s not even funny! If you follow me on instagram you’ll know what the “big project” is…just not the end result 😉 Today I thought I’d share another little experiment with Rit dye. Whilst my stockpot was simmering away I began pondering what else I could use all that lovely rich dye liquor for. I like to get value for money! (BTW, did you know you can bottle unused Rit dye liquid once it’s cooled and reuse it months later! Apparently so…result, huh?)

Anyway, I decided on a whim to randomly chuck this pair of leather gloves into the mixture…and what do you know? It worked! They didn’t crisp up when they dried and the result is relatively even…so I guess…you CAN dye leather with Rit dye!

Essentially I started with these soft leather gloves that I had thrifted and then never worn because the colour never quite fit with any of my coats. (£2 in case you were wondering ;). My dye was already mixed and simmering but as I mentioned in my previous post, was MUCH more concentrated than the instructions required. (The black and maroon powder packs you see + the whole bottle of navy liquid dye to 10pints of water gave me a concentrated dye solution that was an inky blue/purple).
1) Simply submerged my gloves in the stock pot and left for an hour with the lid on.
2) Turn them every 10 mins or so to ensure even coverage
3) Remove after an hour and rinse relentlessly in running water, graduating from hand hot to cold until it runs clear.
4) Leave to dry thoroughly (mine took a couple of days!). I wouldn’t personally be tempted to speed this process up (with a hairdryer for instance) as I’d be worried about “crisping” or shrinking the leather. I guess I thought I’d pushed my luck enough having them simmering in a dye bath for an hour, lol!

When they were finally dry I treated them to a bit of conditioning. You don’t need special products either. This works beautifully on leather of any kind. Shoes, bags, sofas…saddles!
1) Just mix equal parts of white vinegar and olive oil in a bottle.
2) Shake well and apply to leather using a cotton wool pad
3) Buff to a soft shine with a soft cloth
Et voila! Trust me when I tell you…do not bother buying expensive leather creams again. This stuff really works 🙂
4) As a final touch spray with Scotchgard or similar

So, here they are, my new, old, gloves! I like that the stitching wasn’t dyed and now contrasts with the new colour… and talking of colour…you can just about make out an aubergine tinge in these pics…not what I expected AT all. But I really love it! There are a few areas where the dye got veeeery subtly patchy (like in the creases of the leather) which lends them a slight vintage feel too…I totally knew that would happen of course… ahem…cough…;)

I’m quickly learning with dye projects, not to be too invested in achieving a specific colour. Results are not guaranteed to be what you plan! I think it’s better rather to aim for a particular area on the colour wheel and remain open to where that takes you. Sometimes it’ll be a triumph! (Sometimes not!) Even though it may be a case of more luck than judgement…shhhh…don’t tell anyone that part….just let them tell you how clever you are 😉

NB: as a little “disclaimer” and in the interests of full disclosure…I haven’t yet had a chance to wear these out. While I’m confident the exterior is colour fast due to the scotchgard, I’ve yet to test the colour fix on the inside fabric except a rub test on a towel which was fine…on sweaty hands though it’s possible it could transfer and I could end up all Smurfette…I guess I could turn them inside out and use a spray fixative of some kind…but I’ll risk it and see what happens I think…will keep you posted on that!

UPDATE: All is fine. No dye transfer on wearing for a full afternnoon!

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  1. Andrea December 1, 2014

    I liked the before color (because it totally would go with my coat 😉 ) but I LOVE that you dyed leather and had success! I always hate pouring out all that dye once I’ve finished with whatever I had in there, so super glad to know I can save it…AND even more helpful advice in the form of the conditioner/cleaner…you are just full of tips and tricks today!! Thanks for this post 🙂

    • Portia Lawrie December 2, 2014

      Ha ha! Yes I guess I am Andrea! That’s what comes from finally having some time on my hands for blogging again 🙂
      I was soooo chuffed when I read you could store and reuse dye liquid! How cool is THAT!

  2. DressUpNotDown December 2, 2014

    Your gloves turned out gorgeous!!! I was just looking at my poor blue leather gloves yesterday thinking I should dye them! Of all things, I loaded hay bales in a trailer for a Christmas parade a couple Winters back and they never looked the same after. :o( I was worried about dye transfer on the inside, so I’m VERY curious to see how that part plays out.


    • Portia Lawrie December 2, 2014

      That sounds like the sort of thing I’d do,lol! The OH is always moaning at me for spotaneous gardening in my “best” clothes!

  3. Eimear Greaney December 2, 2014

    great tip on the leather conditioner, well done – the contrasting stitching ‘makes’ the gloves look even better

  4. Anonymous December 2, 2014

    The gloves are beautiful! I too love the uncertain outcome element of dyeing. You learn something new each time. Thanks for the excellent tip on diy conditioner, I’ll be using that! And I’ll be saving my dye….

  5. Stacy Gandy December 7, 2014

    Thanks for the tip! I have a few leather purses that have stains and am thinking of dyeing them! Cheaper than taking them to the dry cleaners for $30 per purse!

  6. Elara February 25, 2015

    Hi! Awesome project! I was wondering if you’ve experimented with painting or printing on leather, and if you could recommend a paint or dye? I’d like to screen print a leather bag that has some water damage, but am not sure of what to use.

    • portia February 25, 2015

      Hi Elara, and thankyou 🙂 I’m afraid I haven’t personally had experience of that particular technique. I know you can get specialist leather dye and paint and from what I’ve seen, people have had good success with latex based paint on leather. So might be worth a Google! Good luck! Sounds intriguing!


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