Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dyeing for Purple

Progress on my bodice has been slow and painful. A costume commission I had taken on for Anime Boston took much longer than I had anticipated, leaving me with just about twenty-four hours to sew my bodice before the challenge date. No problem at all I thought. I busted through most of the earlier challenges, I even made my corset in the allotted time so a bodice should be no big deal. I was getting too cocky.

A week later and the bodice is still half finished - no bones, no sleeves, no buttons, no finished edges. A strange ennui had hit me making it hard to even get out of bed some days. I struggled just to get to my sewing machine all week long, only taking little baby steps every couple of days. I'm feeling better and hoping to have it finished this weekend though.

Despite being stuck far behind on the bodice challenge I'm not letting it deter me from continuing on. For the fairytale challenge I'm planning an Edwardian dress inspired by a Japanese tale and the dresses of the design house Callot Soeurs of Paris, France.

For this dress I really wanted to use authentic materials. The main inspiration dress is made from silk charmeuse. I really didn't want to settle for a synthetic alternative but the prices of silk were a bit steep for me. Then I found out that the dye and fabric company my mother loves, Dharma Trading Company, sells quality silks for a steal! The only catch was that they only carry black or white fabric being mainly a dye supplier. Looks like it was time to try my hand at dyeing.

The dress I want to make is mainly black and purple so I bought a few yards of black and a few yards of white silk. I decided to go with the iDye packets sold on the website since they didn't require mixing of chemicals like the more specialized dyes my mother uses and they could be used stovetop since I don't have access to a washing machine. A recent recommendation from The Dreamstress on her blog informed my decision as well.

I sacrificed my enamel canning pot to use for the dye. The directions said to put the fabric in the water when it was warm and then bring it to a simmer and leave for half an hour. By the time it had even gotten to a simmer the fabric had been in the pot closer to an hour and I was getting worried. It looked so dark! I let it simmer for twenty minutes and then pulled it out.

Straight out of the pot and still sopping wet it looked almost black. When the light shone through it though it was a brilliant purple so I help out hope that it would dry to the right purple.

Waiting for the silk to dry I took a look at the big pot of dye and got to thinking. The flannel petticoat I had made for the pink challenge was all cotton material, and I'd much rather have a purple skirt than a pink one. It wasn't a very precious piece either so if I messed it up it wouldn't be the end of the world. I decided to chuck it in the pot and see what happened.

I was a little impatient with the skirt, I probably only left it in there fifteen minutes or so. Straight out of the pot it was a nice bright shade of purple. It lightened to a bit more of a dark periwinkle as it dried, but I still like it better than the pink!


Meanwhile the silk was getting lighter and lighter as it dried...

About halfway dried it was almost perfect for the color I wanted.

Fully dried it was a little lighter than I wanted but such a rich, deep shade that I couldn't complain. The actual shade is in-between the last two pictures, it is a very hard purple to capture and properly display on a screen! The tint of it is more of a reddish purple than I wanted but it is gorgeous!

All in all it was a successful experience that has left me wanting to dye more fabrics! Since Dharma has such reasonable prices on natural fiber fabrics I might find myself dying things more often in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, that is a lovely purple! I've bought fabric from Dharma before and you really can't beat their prices and service! I can't wait to see how your project turns out! :)