Thursday, 31 December 2009

Fabric Dyeing Samples

One of the things I loved learning in my costume course was dyeing fabrics. A lot of the time we used dye to create aged or dirty looking clothes that could withstand laundering (one time I had to create a pair of old, pee-stained men's underwear for a character in 'the Scottish play' - but that's another story!).

Luckily we sometimes got to play around with pretty effects too.

However I don't have the equipment at home to dye fabric and I am not very confident with colour so one technique I have embraced is discharge dyeing - sort of like reverse dyeing. Here is a project I made using this technique during my course. The fabric is silk dupion, the original colour is the purple and the gold was uncovered when I used the discharge technique.

The beauty of discharge dyeing is the colour you end up with was there all along so it always 'goes' with the original fabric. You can use any technique such as tie-dye or shibori and you simply remove colour from the original fabric rather than adding a new colour on top.

So why all this pondering about dyes? Well, I have a wedding to go to at the end of January, it's another of my fella's friends so I can't wear the dress I wore to the last wedding I went to (I suppose I could, but you know how it is I'm sure!). I have been a bit stuck as to what to wear so I've been re-reading all my books and magazines but it was during the most recent episode of Gossip Girl (don't judge me, I only watch for the clothes!) that I saw this dress on Leighton Meester aka Blair.
Image from here. I have no idea who the designer is, but I'd love to know.

That was my lightbulb moment as they say. I took myself off to Fabulous Fabrics (I have a $100 voucher that I got when I left my job in July) and bought some 10cm samples of various shades of silk dupion. Sampling is REALLY important, since you don't know what you are going to get - and sometimes it is not what you were hoping for!

I bought indigo-navy, chartreuse and two shades of turquoise for my tests. I used RIT colour remover, which I have used on silk before, so I know it's safe. You can use bleach in various dilutions on other fabrics such as cotton but bleach makes silk turn to jelly - not a good look!
Here are all the samples together:
I really love this chartreuse sample but I didn't leave it in the solution long enough - this colour was quite stubborn.
I tried to create an ombre effect on the navy but I was impatient and the effect is much too subtle!
While I loved these two turquoise shades, the discharge technique is a bit too much like a wet look. At a wedding in the heat of summer you do not want to look like you've sweated all over your dress!
These are my two favourites, the chartreuse and navy left in the solution for much longer (or I could have used a stronger mix). The darker shades at the bottom are the original colours and the lighter shades are where the dye has been removed. There is not such a dramatic contrast as in my purple dress above but I think it is a really pleasing effect anyway.
Here are the samples on top of the original fabric:
I think either of these could work really well in a dress inspired by the gossip girl original. I would use the paler shade on the bodice and the original colour for most of the skirt, with some kind of graduation in the middle (maybe a shibori technique?). I am not sure I will go for the level of embellishment in the inspiration dress bu never say never!

Now a question. I love both of these colours a lot and can't choose between them. My fella doesn't have a preference either so what do you think? Anyone out there prefer one over the other? Please let me know as I am itching to get started on this project!


Mz.Choize said...

Oh, this is so great! I have always been curious about how this was done. That dress is fabo!

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

Your dress is so pretty! This technique does seem very interesting and fun to do.

For me ~ I'm a color blue person so my choice would be to use the blue, but they are equaling nice :)
(not much help there :)

Happy New Year!

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

...equally nice! :)

RuthieK said...

I would go for the chartreuse becuase I think its a wonderful colour, and with your colouring it would be simply stunning. The blue is nice, but the chartreuse is the winner for me :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with RuthieK,your colouring is just right for the chartreuse.Happy Sewing.

sandra said...

I third the chartreuse - its gorgeous!

Sarah Allison said...

Samples look great... happy blogaversary!! xx