Saturday, November 17, 2012

Just Dyeing to Try it!


Okay, so this is the next installment in the Bustle Gown Project, which will focus on the Art of Dyeing fabrics a different color.  I have to say that my past attempts at dyeing resulted in dismal results, so needless to say I was more than slightly apprehensive.  There was a lot riding on this dye job.  I had found an old distressed silk wedding gown, and I really wanted the dyeing to work well, as I probably could not afford to replace the silk faille fabric if I ruined it.  So, I re-read some dyeing tips that I had received from a "fellow seamstress friend", then read the entire dye powder box front to back to inside.  And got ready to go!

 Preparation is a big part of a successful dye attempt.  Have ALL your supplies handy, and think through the process, visualize it, before you begin.  Know where you are going to start and where you are going to end your project ie: start in the kitchen near the stove for super hot water to properly dissolve the dye grains for your dye bath, then end at the washing machine.  Next, are you going to go with a bucket for smaller jobs, the washing machine, or a tub for larger jobs?  Take the time to think it through start to finish.  You will be glad you took the time upfront to properly prepare and/or decide on your course of action.
 When I started my dye project, I knew the color I wanted, the big question was, How do I get there?  Purple was not one of the dye powder colors available the day I was shopping, so I knew I was going to have to mix it.  The "Rit" brand is the tried and true standard, and powder is probably more desirable as it seems to be able to get a deeper, darker color dye than the liquid.  However, the day I was shopping, there was no red powder dye either, so I went with the liquid version. 

Several key factors for me: 1) Start soaking your fabric in hot water, or washing it is best, while you are setting up your supplies, for at least 20-30mins.  2) Boiling water is best for the first step of the dye bath to completely dissolve the dye powders.  You will not be putting your hands in it at this stage, and maybe not at all, if you are really careful.  I used a long wooden spoon for most of my project, and only touched the fabric once taking it from the tub to the washing machine at the end. 3) Set enough time aside for the entire project - give yourself 60 to 90mins from start to finish.   4) Always use 2-3 times more dye powder or dye liquid for best results. 5)  Dyeing works best on Natural Fabrics ie: cottons, linens, and silks.  6) Determine where you are going to process your dye job.  7) Do not forget to add the salt or vinegar to the dye solution!

I opted for a large plastic tub IN my bathtub.  I poured the hot dye bath into the tub and measured in the necessary "hot water" needed for the amount of fabric I was working with.  Once that was settled, I ran a couple of dye tests to make sure I was in the color tone I was looking for.  I had mixed two boxes of Navy dye to a half bottle of Red Liquid dye to get the color I wanted for the dye bath.  (From here, how long you leave the fabric in the dye solution will also determine how dark your end color will be.)  I began to carefully add the wet fabric, and then used my long wooden spoon to "stir" or "swish" the fabric around to ensure that the dye solution was getting everywhere as evenly as possible.  My fabric was in the dye solution for 30mins with constant mixing.  The water cools down pretty fast, so once it was ready to come out, I poured all the excess dye solution carefully down the drain, and carried the tub and fabric out to the washing machine.  I had my latex gloves on the entire time.  Moving the fabric into the washing machine was the only time I actually touched the fabric with my gloved hands, and the fabric was very cool to the touch by then.  Gentle wash cycle to remove the excess solution and help set the dye.  Dryer time, and it was done!  The perfect shade of "Plum" I was going for!


 I opted for the "tub in a bathtub" idea, as I was not sure the dye would not ruin my bathtub if I mixed it up directly in my bathtub.  Surprisingly, all the dye splash drops in my bathtub came off quickly and easily with a little bleach!  I cleaned up immediately, while the finished dyed fabric was washing.  Also, both tubs wiped up clean as well.  The small white bucket did leave a residue inside, but that was because the inside was kind of scruffy, so when I added the boiling water to create the Dye Bath it was a little more porous and gave the dye something to stick to.  The big blue tub that I used for the Dye Solution came out perfectly clean with a quick bleach rinse.  

In conclusion, I had a great experience dyeing, and have worked thru two other dyeing projects since this one!  By custom dyeing our fabrics, we can almost certainly ensure that no-one will be wearing the exactly same shade of fabric!  It also gives us options.  Maybe you need some black silk trim for a pleat, but you only have white Dupioni sitting around?  Quick dye job, and you have your black!  I encourage you to start with something small and easy, maybe a couple pairs of cotton gloves.  I wish I had been thinking about gloves, I could easily have dropped a pair into the dye solution, and then had a perfectly color matched pair of gloves to wear with my new ensemble!  Good luck!





1 comment:

  1. Well done and thank you, I must try this one day. And you have made my new favorite lavender color!

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