Dye to Match Buttons, Zips and Threads

Dye to Match Buttons, Zips and Threads


Jil Sander, SS11, Milan. Buttons from Mrecht.

While you’re enjoying the myriad of colours available for the Spring-Summer 2011 collections, spare a thought for the production teams who are responsible for co-ordinating every last colour matched detail.

While buttons, zips, threads and other trims and fastenings can appear to be available in a variety of colours, they seem to have a knack for always being not quite the colour that you need on your newly designed garment. A thread which is slightly too dark, too light, or slightly the wrong tone can become the detail that distracts the eye away from the silhouette. With the wrong thread colour, messy stitching suddenly becomes more obvious and makes the garment look less professional and using an incorrect zip colour can make a hidden closure become a strange focal point.

The phrase most commonly used for specifying that a trim is to match the fabric colour is “dyed to match” or abbreviated to DTM. Which is a way of specifying to your manufacturer that the fastening will need to be colour matched if possible or otherwise dyed the exact colour of the fabric. This seems to be simple enough though it can be quite a subjective term, one persons “perfect match” can look disasterous to someone else. Especially when garments from the same collection are made by multiple manufacturers. Then you can end up with threads being chosen in many variations surrounding the desired colour, but not actually matching the shade exactly.

The best way to avoid colour matching disappointment is to provide manufacturers with all the accessories, fastenings and threads where possible. This will mean that even if different people are sewing the garments, they will all be using the same coloured components.

If you are creating a sample collection and need a certain shade of button or zip dyed in a small quantity then you can get it dyed by a specialist or you can do the dyeing yourself. Just make sure that you have bought the correct dye for your fibre type – cotton dyes won’t dye polyester zip tapes, for example, as the colour will not set and will just wash away when rinsed. And always buy a spare or two in case the colour doesn’t turn out as planned.


Jil Sander, SS11, Milan.

Below are some examples of the type of sample cards that are available from suppliers. From these you can choose which buttons you want and have them dyed to match your chosen fabric:



The sample cards below show an array of different colours for zips. They show samples of the colour of the zipper tape (the fabric section running either side of the zip) but the actual zipper teeth and zipper pull are not specified here.



Christopher Kane, SS11, London.

Below are examples of thread colour cards for standard sewing thread. Embroidery thread manufacturers also provide separate sample cards.


Catwalk images from Vogue.co.uk»

Sample cards from Mrecht Accessories»

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