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Discussion Starter #1
I have a cheap zombie costume I bought from Spirit. I love the color of the pants, but the top is a terrible blue color. I'd like to dye this blue to match the charcoal black of the pants. How can I do this and what materials do I need? It's a very thin, flimsy material so I'd have to be careful. Here is an example of what I'm working with:

plus-size-zombie-costume.jpg
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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There may be a better way, but I would hit it with a spray bottle of water tinted with acrylic/latex paint, but only after carefully masking off all the areas like the chestpiece so it won't get any overspray. The following sounds really long and annoying but I swear it's just because I don't explain things in short and sweet style - it's not as bad as the wall of text implies. :D

I'd use ducttape and garbage bags or shopping bags, carefully cover all the areas you don't want to get painted and then tape it into place. Place the shirt on the ground (either in an unused area of yard) or on a LARGE drop cloth or piece of cardboard, well away from anything that would get any paint drift. Do not do this in a driveway or near a window or anything, and make sure to do it on a windless VERY still day.

Acrylic paint can be bought in small tubes/bottles at any craft store - don't get the fancy/expensive artist stuff, just ask for the cheapy acrylic craft paint and make sure it's not watercolor or tempera, as acrylic is the one that is waterproof and won't smudge off once it is dry.

You could also use some house paint as long as it is labeled "latex" (doesn't matter if it is indoor or outdoor since it's not going to be used for painting a house). Latex paint is similar to acrylic paint in that they are both waterproof once dry - they become a plastic polymer, even when watered down. So if you have some black latex house paint available for free or super cheap, you can definitely use that instead, but the small art tubes/bottles are likely to be MUCH cheaper.

Get a spray bottle and add in a about an ounce or two of black acrylic paint and at least 6 ounces of water and mix it up well. You want a nicely pigmented solution, but still very "watery" so it doesn't gum up the sprayer. Practice first on a piece of scrap cardboard. You want a light mist not a heavy spray. Coat the areas you want painted, then let them dry a bit. Hit them again, maybe get a little splotchy here or there if it looks nice. Walk away for an hour or so and come back to see how it has dried. You want to build up the layers of color, since you can always stop adding, but you can't take away so don't go heavy on the paint.

As long as you don't use straight paint on the fabric, you should be able to get a decent build up of coloring and not have it super stiff from painting it. But if it's a bit starchy, you just need to make sure it is completely dry, then ball it up or crumble it with your hands to relax the fibers and break down any paint areas that are too thick.
 

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If the shirt is glued to the zombie, I agree that trying to paint it might be the best approach, but if you can actually remove it up over his head without damaging the fabric, then a good long soak in Black Rit dye would give you better results without all the work of masking the guy's innards to protect from over-spray. I've gently pulled off fabric from a couple of props where the fabric was glued to the body with a hot glue. You have to be careful, but for me it was easier than masking stuff off. But I was painting the props not their clothes. Once I was done, I just hot glued everything back into place. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
These are all great ideas, and I really appreciate the quick feedback from the community!

I had a flash of an idea today, tell me what you all think. What if I just took the top to the mall to the guy who airbrushes shirts and have him spray it the color I want (after I mask off the non-cloth areas). What that work or will that not hold up over time. Could I run into issues with it not looking good now or perhaps later?
 

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These are all great ideas, and I really appreciate the quick feedback from the community!

What if I just took the top to the mall to the guy who airbrushes shirts and have him spray it the color I want (after I mask off the non-cloth areas). What that work or will that not hold up over time. Could I run into issues with it not looking good now or perhaps later?
If you're working with a professional airbrush artist, they could probably do the work. But that's got to be one of the most expensive ways you could go about it. Look at the cost of the T-shirts they're selling. They make their money by charging folks for the skill set they have to paint on fabric, and it rarely comes cheap. Even though you're asking to color a shirt instead of create art, it takes time, and that time is what a mall artist will charge you for. That and a whole lot more ink to do an entire shirt than a simple design on the front of it.

Frankie's Girl's approach is sort of the homemade version of what the artist would do, and would cost you far less. You could even mix up a cloth dye in the spray bottle and go about it slowly letting it soak into the fabric, dry, and repeat until you get the color you want. It won't cost an arm and a leg the way an mall artist might. (Most zombies can't afford giving up any more body parts.) Do it yourself. The best part is it's a zombie... so what if his shirt looks terrible after you're done? But I really think that you can make it look just the way you want it to all by yourself. All it takes is a bit of patience and from what I understand that's a virtue.... not that I really know. :).
 
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