In this comparison I will mostly be comparing the method and difference used for the Nomex flight suits so anyone considering dying it can see the results and decide for themselves to risk, or not risk, their flight suits.
I bought two Carter brand Nomex flight suits in khaki/tan off ebay ($70). The Carter is a pretty standard brand you'll find mentioned here and think it's a pretty solid suit. I also have a Tru-Spec and enjoy it a lot, but wanted the different look and texture of the Nomex. The Tru-Spec is wonderful and more breathable - so it'll probably be my colder weather suit. I took the Carter flight suits and I dyed one and left the other in factory color for this comparison.
NOTESThis process is for a Carter brand Nomex suit, this would be different for the Tru-Spec. If you do this method on a Tru-Spec for the time it'd almost certainly be too dark. This is also just my experience and results, I encourage you to do additional research as your mileage may vary
-Using hot water in this process seems to shrink your suit slightly - for me it took it from slightly baggy to just right. It doesn't seem to shrink it an ton, but this will shrink your suit slightly - so if it's snug now, you might want to consider not doing this.
-Nomex is hard to dye, as it is made with synthetic materials and designed to be resistant to burning, so I wasn't overly concerned about it being too dark. If you do this process for 2 hours on a Tru-Spec or non-Nomex suit it will almost certainly be too dark. This will dye your Velcro straps that some might not like. You could use 3 packs of the Dye as I've heard, but I'd recommend starting with 2 as you can always go darker by repeating the process.
-This process is for a sink/Tupperware container method - I didn't want to mess with putting dye in my washing machine but there are other methods out there in this forum for that.
-Opinions are great so feel free to share. This is the color I wanted and to me it's great as it added some more depth and used look - not so fresh and new. I'm sure there will be someone who says how it isn't screen accurate, it's supposed to be khaki not grey, etc. Respectfully, keep that shit to yourself - this is my experience and process and I wanted to share in case someone likes the results I got and wants to replicate it. Kind of demotivating to get negative comments after taking time to share something. Have fun!
RIT Pearl Grey (powdered) - 2 Boxes
1 Cup salt
1 Teaspoon of dish detergent
Dryer sheets - 10-12 sheets
6-7 gallons of water as hot as you can get
Large sink or large Tupperware container
Washing machine & Dryer
Dye time: 2 Hours (+/- based on your ideal darkness)
Optional: Something to sit on the suit and hold the suit in the water, like a piece of cardboard.
[*] Remove the name tape Velcro patch (simply pull out the stitching, being mindful not to pull the threads too hard or it'll stretch the stich holes and be more visible later)
[*] Wash your suit in washing machine with cold water and no detergent
[*] Dry with 10+ dryer sheets. Drying with the insane amount of dryer sheets will help remove the sheen and reduce the amount of fire-proofing in the suit allowing the dye to take more.
[*] OPTIONAL: Run again through the washing machine again in cold water with no detergent - this will help remove the stuff that all those drying sheets left and make the suit more likely to take the dye. Air dry or dry in the dryer without dryer sheets.
[*] Take the 2 RIT Pearl Grey dye in the powdered version and 1 cup salt and some hot or boiling water (the hot water will help dissolve the salt) and mix it in a smaller container, not your sink or Tupperware as that's too big and you can't effectively stir it enough to dissolve the dye granules. I mixed this in about 6 cups of water or so - enough to dissolve it all together and with plenty of water. I used an electric kitchen mixer and an old mixing bowl to dissolve the hell out of it. If you use the mixer as I did, be mindful to clean it well after since you're mixing dye. NOTE: Mix the shit out of this. I mean really mix it - if you don't there will be granules of dye that will stick to your suit as reddish purple dots.
[*] Start boiling as much water as you can - the RIT instructions claim slightly below boiling is ideal. I used tap water as hot as possible and about 3 pots of boiling water. A total of 6 gallons, or 96 cups, seems to be the agreed upon amount and the amount I used.
[*] Take your flight suit, open all the zippers and pockets - this will help prevent pockets of air and help keep the suit more easily submerged so it dyes evenly.
[*] When your water is boiling, mix all your water into your Tupperware container or large sink, add your dissolved dye mixture, and 1 teaspoon of dish soap - stir this up. Don't let it cool. Submerge your flight suit and use the stick/stirrer to swirl it around constantly for a few minutes ensuring all the suit is soaking in the mixture. Look on the suit for spots of undissolved dye granules- if you see any try to scrub it out with a toothbrush or something similar so it'll dissolve - be mindful about leaving part of your suit out of the dye doing this or it might dye unevenly.
[*] Continue to stir and agitate your suit around for about 30 minutes ensuring all areas are in the dye - keep an eye out for air bubbles in your suit or parts sticking up out of the dye. After 30 minutes you can leave it in there and stir/check it every 30 minutes or so. Do this for about 2 to 2.5 hours. You can keep in longer or shorter based on your taste - keep in mind it will be lighter once it's dried.
Note: Consider using something to hold the suit under water - like a piece of cardboard or something. Also feel free to add another pot of boiling water to keep it hot being sure to not dilute it too much.
[*] After the time, take it out and rinse it with hot water gradually changing to cold water. Get as much water over it as you can, until the water runs clear. Check for any spots of undissolved dye and try to scrub them out to dissolve it and blend it in. If you see any at this point, you might be boned as it's likely already set.
[*] Run it in the washer using cold water with no detergent then throw it in the dyer on low-med heat. Then you're GOOD TO GO!
Left is original, undyed Carter Nomex - Right is after the dyeing process.
Left is dyed, right is original. To me it looks like a khaki, but more broken in and real.
Left is original, right is dyed. To note, this will also dye your Velcro strips.
Left is dyed, right is original. Love the texture of the Nomex.
Carter Industry Nomex.
RIT Pearl Grey and Todd Cook patch.
That's it folks, thanks for reading my novel! I'll post more pictures of the patches once I get them on. Feel free to PM me with questions.