Saturday, January 7, 2012

Interlude: A Dye Job

I've begun preparing for a convention I'm going to next month, and so am working on other things aside from the Steampunk Victoria. Last night I embarked on the nerve wracking adventure of dyeing a skirt I ripped off an old wedding dress from the 70's.

 (not quite like that.....)

Oh, let me tell you about this dress!! I found it at the Goodwill store two weeks before my birthday. I instantly fell in love with the skirt. It is so completely gorgeous!

However, it was also $50, and I had just gotten home from a two week vacation traveling to Salt Lake, New Orleans, Denver, and Boise. Needless to say, I felt a little guilty about spending that much money on an old wedding dress. So for once I put my self-gratification instincts away and left the store with nothing. But I obsessed over it for days; thinking about how I would take it apart and do amazing things with it. I just couldn't get it out of my head.

So my birthday rolled around and I got a $50 rebate card in the mail for my phone. Birthday money! On a whim I went to Goodwill, not even imagining the dress would still be there... But it was. Not only was it still there- it was half off. I snagged it so fast I must have looked like a contestant in a bridal store shopping spree.

However, when I got home I put it aside. I knew there were so many things I could do with it, but I had no particular project in my head; just vague visions of swishy, flowing skirts. It sat in the bag for several months until Tuesday, when inspiration hit! I was at the Mill's End looking for cotton for Victoria's chemise, when in the remnant section I found a yard of the most gorgeous amethyst purple jacquard. I had to make a corset out of it. And as I pictured myself wearing this gorgeous jewel toned bodice, a vision of swishy, flowing lavender skirts entered my mind. My next stop on my errands immediately became Joann's to snag some purple dye.

Now, I've dyed various things before, so this was no new experience for me. I did try a couple new things, and they all worked out really well.

The skirt is very light, but has several yards of material. It is made of three layers: one satin, one tulle, and one chiffon. It probably weighs about two and a half pounds, so I used three bottles of liquid Rit. I prefer the liquid, it disperses in water so much better.

I filled a large plastic storage bin with 140 degree water, the three bottles of dye and one tablespoon of laundry detergent. After letting the dye disperse in the water for a few minutes, I committed myself to my project and slowly immersed the fabric. I was a nervous wreck at this point, if this didn't work out, I would be ruining a beautiful piece of fabric.  But I was determined this would be success!

According to the directions, it is supposed to sit in the dye for a half hour, while being stirred consistently. It was insufferably hot in my tiny bathroom, and my arms started to ache after about ten minutes (20 more to go!)

When thirty minutes passed, it was time to rinse out the dye. You are supposed to rinse the fabric out until the water is completely clear, and it took a good twenty minutes to do so. I made a MESS of the bathtub, but it happens to be my luck that my bathtub is made out of some super unstainable material, and I should still be getting my deposit back when we move out...

Then it was hung up to dry for the night.

I tried as hard as I could to not get dye on my hands, but my efforts were futile. One of my fingers looks like I slammed my hand in a car door!

In the end I am euphorically pleased with my efforts.

I even tried it on today and danced around the house for a while practising my curtsey. This skirts just BEGS to be curtseyed in!

I may even grudgingly document making the blasted corset (I hate making corsets), since it is from the same pattern as the Victorian corset I'll be using for Steampunk Victoria.

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