Rea Bates

Sassy Pants

I am known for dressing in bright colors. I dress mostly in tints—colors that seem to have a bit of light or white coming through. For years I’ve dressed in colorful tops, pairing them with just a few pairs of pants. My pants were navy, brown, khaki, or denim. You see, I don’t wear black or gray (long story). I can’t wear jeans to work at the assisted living facility most days, but I refuse to wear anything that isn’t extremely comfortable. These things narrowed my choices.

I had often wished I could find colorful pants to wear with my colorful tops, but the pants I could find were expensive, uncomfortable, or both.

Several months ago, I was working with my residents. We were making suncatchers. We use special paint pens that have plugs to keep the paint from leaking out or drying up. I dropped one of those plugs. It rolled down my top and onto my khakis. I wasn’t too worried. The paint is washable. It came right out of my top but not my khakis. I tried two different stain removers. No luck. My husband said I should use his gritty soap. I told him to have at it. Well, it took the paint right out. It also took out a quarter-sized circle of the khaki dye. Now my khakis had a white spot.

I may have mentioned before that I’m exceptionally frugal. Now I was stuck with a pair of pants that I couldn’t wear, even though they were in good repair and delightfully comfortable. An idea came to mind. The pants were already ruined, so why not try an experiment? I wanted a pair of red pants, so I bought a bottle of RIT dye in cherry. I followed the online instructions. It worked well. I later decided that I wanted the color to be a little deeper, so I dyed them a second time with the same cherry dye. The most amazing part is that there’s not a trace of the spot where the khaki dye was missing.

That was just the beginning. I thought of all the colors of pants I wanted. I began buying light khakis at thrift stores. Khakis can run from almost white to caramel, so I looked for the lightest ones. This way the dyed colors would be truest. Sizes vary from brand to brand, so I measured the waist, hips, and thighs of my comfy khakis. I measured the pants before I bought them, so I knew they would fit well without having to try on oodles of pairs.

Now I have a closet full of sassy pants. In addition to the red, I have tangerine, aquamarine, teal, evergreen, and eggplant. I get lots of compliments on my colorful pants. A couple of friends have mentioned that the times they tried dying clothes at home the clothes have come out unevenly dyed. My secret is that I use my washing machine (it moves the clothes around in the dye, helping to even out the color), and I follow the instructions exactly. This means adding both salt and dishwashing liquid to the dye bath. I reset the washer’s wash cycle over and over so that the pants are in the dye for a full hour. Once the pants are out of the washer, I run it one last time all the way through a wash cycle with a bit of laundry soap to clear out the last of the dye.

I shared this information because there’s no reason for me to be the only person walking around Miami county wearing sassy pants.

May your week ahead be filled with sunshine.


Rae Bates is an Independent Consultant with the Pampered Chef. You can see her Facebook Page by clicking HERE. Her column appears each Sunday in Peru Indiana Today.