When I wanted to try dyeing MOP buttons for my silk blouse the first person I called was my friend Sharon. Sharon is very experienced with dyes and paints and dyed a bunch of plastic buttons a couple of years ago – yes, you can dye some plastic buttons too! She recommended I use Rit dye and experiment first with one button to check the color and time.
I used one cup of water with four capfuls of liquid dye in a small Corningware dish. I prefer to use a glass dish because it’s non-reactive. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Thread the button(s) on a string (I used some topstitching thread) and put into the mixture. I looped the thread around one of the dish’s handles so it wouldn’t completely fall into the liquid. I checked my button every 5 minutes. After 20 minutes I realized that this was going to take a very long time! But, by then I could already see that the color was going to work, I just needed to simmer it for a long time to get the saturation I wanted. I strung up the rest of my buttons (make sure you dye a few spares!) and simmered them for three hours. I turned off the stove and left them overnight when I went to bed.
The next morning, I decided to try to get them a bit darker so I started with a fresh batch of undiluted dye. After a couple of hours they finally looked good to me so I rinsed and hung them to dry. I can’t imagine that they will fade but we’ll see. Due to all of the gathers on my blouse I will probably dry clean it so I’ll let you all know how they hold up to those chemicals. Hopefully, they’ll be fine because I have a ton of men’s MOP shirt buttons and plans to make a few more silk blouses.
Because MOP buttons require such a long cooking time, I really recommend you use a dish with a lid. Not only does this prevent all of your liquid from evaporating, it also prevents the dye from getting into the air. It’s not just a little stinky, it can’t be too good to breathe in either. If you are going to be standing over the pot a lot I’d recommend a mask of some sort too. Most of my dying consists of quick jobs like lingerie elastic (which dyes in mere minutes) so it’s not been a problem before. I just wanted to mention it to you so that you can be prepared.
PS: Don’t forget that anything you use for dyeing should never be used for food again. I’m you already knew that but it bears repeating.