Sunday, July 14, 2013

DIY Sunday: Color Run Shirt Preservation / Color Save

Hello There! 

I joined thousands of fellow Iowans yesterday to run "The Color Run" in downtown Des Moines. I did the Couch to 5K program earlier this year, and this was my second 5K. I couldn't find a number for attendance this year (2013) but last year (2012) it was around 30,000 thousand people, and I don't think it got any less popular!

I do have some hints based off my experience, but let's first talk about the important thing, how do you keep the color on your shirt??

The various websites for The Color Run (and other copycat races) say you should soak your shirt in vinger, iron it (to set the color) and then.....????. Most websites get pretty vague at this point. I read some other blogs, and no one seemed to have an exact example of a way to preserve color. I am lucky because I'm running another color race in two weeks (Run or Dye in Rapid City, SD). I hadn't planned on doing two but my high school friends were going to do it the weekend of our reunion, so I joined in. I will probably walk that one just to enjoy the company of people I don't get to see often. Anyways, now I two opportunities to get this color keeping thing right.

This was me "before" the race:

This was me "after" the race (before the color cloud):


This was after the color cloud:


As you can see, you get more color in the color cloud.
So, when I got home, I sprayed the shirt with vinegar. I didn't soak it. I thought if I sprayed it on, it wouldn't smear. It was just as saturated as it would be if you soaked it, but I think laying it flat kept the colors from running together into a ugly brown.
Then I went to work ironing it. Beware. It stinks to high heaven. I opened two windows and worked quickly.

(Side note, you can kinda see that I modified the shirt sleeves to be a girl fit. See my hints below)

So, I decided that I wanted to ensure that my shirt had color. I had some spray fabric paint. I decided to do a couple of drops/sprays on the shirt to make sure I had some color.

So now I've done the two steps The Color Run suggests. I have no idea where to go with it now. Line dry? Wash? Dryer. I decided that since the iron "set the color" I would put it in the dryer. I put it in the dryer with a old towel with the theory that it would absorb excess color (not sure if that worked, but I haven't seen any color in my dryer.).

Color is still good. I decided now it was a good time to wash it. I did a very very small amount of detergent and washed on cold. 

Uh Oh. Most of my color was gone. ARGH. 

Thankfully I added some color so it's not completely white. Some of the blue stayed and a spot of orange and yellow.

So I'll try something different in my next race (maybe doing the 'soaking' that is suggested rather than spraying)

Update: Wow. This post has been super popular! At my second race, I decided I'd try the soak method. However, before I even got home, the color was already knocked off the shirt, and I had some sort of brown mess on my shirt. I would recommend if you want color, you'll need to use actual fabric paint. (Hey, you could even include it in your pre-run festivities! Color people around you...with their permission of course) The color that is thrown isn't powerful enough to stay in the shirt. I am curious if anyone that has done Color Me Rad has had any success. From my research, they use a liquid color at some stations. Funny thing about all this is the color stayed in my Color Run socks...although it's a icky brown color after several races.

Observations and Hints for The Color Run.

1) I was told that there would be so many people that I wouldn't be able to run the entire thing. I would be stuck behind people walking or running slower than me (although I'm pretty sure that's not possible). I was pleasantly surprised. First of all, the majority of people walk it (at least in my wave they did). If you stay to the outside, you generally don't have to stop at all for walkers. Plus, you want to be on the outside to get some color! I walked through the color zones because what's the point of the race if you don't get some color!

2) How do you get the most color? That probably is the most popular question. I did some research prior to the race. First, you will see some water being sprayed down from the arch when you first walk through the arch. Don't hustle through it. The water doushing helps the color stick to you. Move slowly through the color zones on the edges. If you can, you may think about alternating what side you are on. Don't forget to turn your back to the color sprayers every once in a while. Some people did "color angels" right after the color zone. If you don't mind laying in the street, you can get some extra color that way. And the most important part of all....go to the color cloud after the race!!!! Not only is it really fun and cool to experience, you'll be covered in color!

3) It might be worth it to have a bandana or mask to cover your face. I don't usually have problems with smells or textures. However, it was pretty intense...especially during the color cloud. I can see why people do it.

4) Bring a change of clothes, a garbage bag and something to cover the car seats. I didn't because I have leather seats...I thought it would clean easy. It did come off, but I had to use a ton of wipes to get it clean. It would have been so much easier if I would have just covered the seats in the first place!

5) You will have to wait if you aren't waiting in line early. So this is what you can choose between. Either you join in the pre-party (there was some 'warm-up' Zumba at ours) and have fun that way. Or you can stand in line so you're one of the first waves. I had a ton of fun at the warm-up Zumba. So we weren't in line early and ended up waiting an hour for our wave to start. That kinda sucked. But, I think if I had the choice to do it again, I would still do the warm-up. It was fun to spend that time dancing. 

6) We got to the race about an hour early. We got a close parking spot, and we easily got out of town too. It was nice change from most large events! (Yay for Des Moines planning!)

7) We did the 9 am start time instead of the 1 pm. It was crowded, but by the time we finished at noon, it was already getting warm. We were super lucky because it was a cool day to start out with!

8) You know all those cool Color Run pictures? If you do a little research, you would realize that purple is the magic color. Unfortunately, it's not a color zone. So if you can trade someone for that color (it does appear in some people's race packets), you might want to use it on yourself (and friends). Someone pointed out on the blog that orange doesn't tend to mix well with other colors (it tends to create brown). So you might want to avoid orange (or just get a little dusting). Blue and Green seem to have the most saying power. Green is also not available as a color zone.

9) The Color Run is fun with friends! Who else is going to take a picture of you feeling up the unicorn? Not that anyone did that...

10) If your friends don't bring their phones (and if you do, you will probably want to use a sleeve or a plastic sandwich bag), you will want to plan a place to meet up. Not only is there a ton of people, but at the end of the race everyone looks the same.

11) It's totally family friendly. I saw tons and tons of families doing the race. Two great ideas if you have kiddos that are too little be colored. 1) Use one of those convertible bike trailer/strollers. They have a plastic cover that can fold down, and 2) If you cover the stroller, use a white muslin blanket soaking in water. It will keep the dye from getting in the stroller, and it will great a cool dyed blanket! (alas, it might not stay that way).

12. The shirt is a unisex shirt, so it's not a woman's cut. I used this tutorial and made my sleeves a girl fit. The material of the shirt is pretty soft, so it didn't sew well. I ended up having to use a bit of tissue paper to sew through the shirt without skipping stitches. 


13.  Make sure you wear your bib so it's clearly visible on the front. Why do you ask? Because that's how the professional photographers tag you when they upload all the pictures. At my second color run race, I was a little nutty with telling people around me. Most people realized they'd at least like the option to see the pictures even if they didn't purchase them, so they moved them to the front. So yes, you may think it's color to have the bib on your sleeve, or back or leg, but the photographer won't be able to tag you. You're potentially very cool picture will float out in the interwebs along with the 2000+ other untagged photographs.

That's all I can think of right now, but I'll post other things if I remember them! :) Hopefully there will be some cool pictures from the event I can share with you once they upload the official pictures.

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Unknown said...

We were talking about this yesterday also after the run. We went ahead and put all Color Run gear in a garbage sack. We're going to let it sit for like a week (stinky). Then I think our plan is to spray it with vinegar, let it air dry and then throw it in the dryer. Not sure if this will work, but I followed the instructions last year that was on the Color Run's site and lost all of my color out of my shirt :(

Unknown said...

FYI.... I wanted to share about my color run t-shirt experience. Once I got the shirts (both my daughters and mine) out of the bags at home. I found that it looked like it was just a bit of a dusting on it. I was very disappointed because I knew my daughter was excited to show her friends. We didn't have a water spray at our run for some reason. I had tons of extra packets of color. I ordered some for our family to help celebrate too. We still had some left over and I saved them knowing we would do another one next year or they could be used for a craft. I put some water on each of the shirts and added more color to them in the bag. I tied it up with hopes that it would dry the color on and help it to stay better for soaking and ironing. I am embarrassed to say that the obvious happened. It got small black mold spots on it. I freaked! It went in the wash on the sanitary cycle with bleach! Then soaked them in more bleach. A little bit of over kill but it was my OCD shining through. Finally no mold, but no color obviously. I tried something similar since I still had color pouches left. I got them damp all over and sprinkled color on them in hopes that they would look like the run color or even better in my 10 year old's eyes! Hung them on a hanger outside in the sun. Next step.... I have no idea. You said spraying vinegar on didn't work but you were going to try soaking this time. I have no idea if I should soak then for minutes, hours or a day. Like you said all the instructions have been vague. I hope you have done your next race and figured it out because I don't know what to do. If it was for just me, I would be a bit calmer. I'm desperate for this to work for my daughter. The run was on our bucket list of things to do together. I want this to be a wonderful reminder of the fun we had. Thanks and hope to hear from you or someone soon.

TheDabblingCrafter said...

I didn't try soaking because the color from my second run didn't even make it home! I think it's because Run or Dye doesn't use the sprayers when you first go through the color clouds. (The Color Run has a light mist). However, while it lasted, Run or Dye's colors seemed to be much brighter. As an update, the little color that had stayed in the shirt initially washed out in subsequent washes. I fear there is no way to preserve the color. So take a good picture and if you want to, grab some fabric paint and recreate the look. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey! Nice stuff, thanks! I'll keep in mind your advices after the run.
Can I ask you a dumb question? I don't know anyone who's done the race before. How's the fit of these shirts? I got a Medium online, but I am afraid it will be too small when I go pick it up (I live in Florida and will be running in Brooklyn..)
I'm 5'7", 150lb

TheDabblingCrafter said...

Good question! I actually really like the fit of these shirts. They are the soft stretchy material. They aren't the stiff normal cotton shirts. So you should be okay fit wise. I wore a size down then I normally do and I wear my shirt almost all the time still a year later.

Unknown said...

I sprayed my shirt with water and vinegar before during and after the race. We'll see if that works!

Anonymous said...

I run in the Color me Rad in and you are correct they do use the water mixture. They use spray guns at the turns and will get the runners from multiple angles and sides. I have found from my shirts that this definitely stays better however the powder that they use when dampened and heated up does remain.

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