Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Wonderful World of iDye

Since I last posted, many things have happened. Well, many and then not so many, really. Let's get on to what did happen, which I will try to put in a timely order:

I started Gertie's Bombshell class, and found fabric for it in my stash; I decided the class dress pattern will be the basis of my bridesmaid dress; did another muslin of the wedding dress bodice in just muslin, this time (a technique they use in the online class) going straight from seam lines (so not matching seam allowances, but the seams themselves) and got a much better fit on the bride; ordered my fabric for my bridesmaid dress; received five yards of dupioni silk in lilac from for said dress; sadly realized that fabric colors on my computer screen are never going to be accurate for me and; received the new Colette Sewing book; sewed a circle skirt; made my muslin for Bombshell/bridesmaid dress, posted pictures for comments on Craftsy class site; sewed one and a half aprons for presents; sewed the Colette Meringue skirt; finished final tweaks to the wedding dress bodice patterns, cut them out of fashion fabric and hand basted underlining to them; reposted my muslin pictures to Craftsy after they were somehow deleted; realized that the five yards of lilac fabric for bridesmaid dress is not what I wanted and it must be dyed.

Which is where we are now. Whew! Some of the things will get their own post...but I have been busy! It is a slow process, but we moving forward. I am clearly the tortoise in this race :) Now, back to dye.

I have never dyed anything before. Maybe some tie-dyed shirts in that one summer camp when I was six, but that isn't really what I think of "fabric dyeing". This was going to be no joke. I had that five yards of dupioni silk that was in need of some color love. Lilac is normally a color I love. This lilac unfortunately didn't have enough of the grayish undertone, but much more on the blue side of things especially in daylight. In natural light it was almost periwinkle. It was just too blue. Maybe my perception of lilac is skewed, but regardless, this fabric was not happening. Here is the original:

We went with the brand iDye, which has a natural fabric dye (cotton, linen, rayon and silk) option and an iDyePoly, because I didn't want to use Rit and its packaging is cute. Joann's will occasionally run a sale on it (this week, I think), so you can get it pretty cheaply. The bride brought over three different shades of iDye purple to try our hand at: Lilac (hah!), Purple and Violet. We were only doing test swatches, so we did it on the stovetop, not in the washing machine. We had to add some white vinegar per instructions to the pot as well since we were working with silk. I assume this was to set the color. We tested four 2x2 swatches per color: 2 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes. This was the coolest thing I have done in awhile! Take a look at the results:

The 2 minutes from left to right, Lilac, Purple, Violet:

Seven minutes, same set-up, Lilac, Purple, Violet:

10 minutes:

15 minutes:

 I know they look somewhat similar in the photos, I did the best I could, but the 15 minute ones in real life are pretty dark. What we could tell was that, clearly, the Lilac was too blue. Which, I guess from my original swatch, is the heart of the problem. We decided to go with the Purple as has a few more red tones, but not nearly as much as violet. The violet at 15 minutes almost went to a red-brown color. So now the bride, because she is the best, is dyeing the fabric in her top-loading washing machine.

But something to note: She had to dye it a second time. We had a little less than five yards and she used 3 packets of dye for the first round. She said after 15 minutes it was too light. Whether this has to do with not using the direct heat method, or the higher concentration of the dye on the stovetop, or the size of the swatches compared with the final amount, we might never know. So we (well, she) is re-dyeing at this moment with 3 purple packets and we decided to throw in one violet for good measure. She said she is willing to wait the 30 minutes if needed to achieve the right shade. I will let you know of the progress and what happens when you try to dye silk twice (hopefully nothing bad!) 

If you are interested in dyeing your fabric, I would definitely recommend this brand. It dissolved easily, and I thought it gave great saturated color...on the stovetop. So if you have a small enough piece, I say go stovetop if you can. I was shocked and amazed at how concentrated the colors were and am convinced it was due to direct heat. Oh, another thing because of that direct heat: we did have some shrinkage to the fabric, so do be mindful of that. The original idea was to precut the pieces and then dye, but that idea has now been tossed. And definitely test a swatch first if you can.

Now, back to work on my bombshell dress...


  1. WELCOME BACK - have missed you!!! Boy you have been busy. Are you back home now? You are very adventurous dyeing - well done. I have a couple of books on the subject but have never tried it - will put that on my list of things to do for 2012!! Can't wait to see the pics!!

    1. Thanks, Evelyne! It was really fun to do it, you have to try! And thanks for the heartfelt (and quick, I might add!!) response :) I have been so busy but I am trying to take the time to get back to posting. So I will try hard this year. Thanks for your support :)