Gwendolen, projects

Experiments with Dyeing

So I needed cotton velvet or velveteen for the accents on this bodice — collar, cuffs, and buttons. I’m actually tweaking the color palette a bit from the original movie dress:  when I made the 1870-71 evening dress I ended up at Britex looking for velvet ribbon, where I fell in love with a beautiful vintage ribbon that was a sort of violet purple color. I think it is probably rayon (because of the sheen).  I hunted throughout the store trying to find something that would coordinate for the narrower ribbon of the bodice — didn’t find anything, so went with the closest I could get (which was more of a grape purple), and hoped it wouldn’t be too noticeable because of being farther away from the skirt.  But now that I’m going to be using bigger pieces of velvet on the day bodice, I need something closer to violet.  (And now I’m inspired to remove the narrow ribbon and try to dye that to better match, but that’s another project!)

I did the East Bay fabric shop tour — started at Joann’s, then Stone Mountain in search of the right shade, but couldn’t find anything right at either, so I grabbed some veering-towards-cranberry cotton velveteen and some RIT dye.  I’m actually quite terrified of dyeing — I have a front-loading, low water use washer, so I’m always worried that will screw things up — plus I just don’t have a lot of experience.  And I hate not knowing for certain what color I’m going to end up with — I’m the type who will spend more than I have to to get the right shade.  But I wasn’t finding what I needed in person, and I didn’t want to buy online because unless you’re good and get a swatch, you REALLY don’t know what shade you’re buying!

So I did swatches, playing with overdying with blue and purple and various mixtures of the two.  The straight blue worked the best, and I’m really pleased with the result.  It’s not perfect, because I’m trying to match cotton to rayon and the rayon ribbon has a sheen that the cotton fabric doesn’t have, but it’s the same tone and that makes me happy.

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  • Reply Trystan November 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    You’re so cute when you’re obsessive!

  • Reply Kendra November 16, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Pfff! I’m ALWAYS cute!

  • Reply Hana Marmota November 17, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Strange that the purple overdye doesn’t seem to have made any difference!

  • Reply Janice November 18, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Lovely. It turned out rather well.

  • Reply Veronica November 19, 2009 at 5:31 am

    May I suggest -next time go to Dharma Trading Co. in San Rafael and buy a yard or two of their white rayon/silk velvet and either the Procion dye or the acid dye for silk. I have had great success dying and matching using their dyes (ask Athene). I haven’t dyed their velvet (full disclosure) but have over dyed many a silk and it works great.

  • Reply Rachel T November 19, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    have you been to discount fabrics at Ashby and San Pablo lately? I was there last week and there was an epic selection of velveteen.

  • Reply Shelby November 24, 2009 at 3:49 am

    yay! dying! I’ve followed your blog for years and now three years into my costume degree I feel like I can contribute!
    I recently had a dying workshop w/ the costume shop manager of the Utah Shakespearean Festival and have dyed at work quite often. RIT dyes are pretty great, don’t be scared! Just make sure if you use the powders you wear your protective gear :).

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