Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Trial by Dyer

Spent the last two days at Pandora's working up the courage to dye my Hoth Leia jumpsuit. I didn't want to color it so much as "age" it a little, to take the blinding edge off the brilliant white. Pandora was over last week and when I mentioned this project, she volunteered to help. She makes art dolls and has done a lot of tinting, barely dying fabric for doll skin. Plus she has a top-loading washer which we could fill with water, the one feature I gave up when I went to my wonderful new front-loader!

We spent hours dyeing trial swatches of the cotton blend suit and silk vest in taupe and tan dye. We started with a half-teaspoon of RIT powder dye in a large washer load of water, and were down to a quarter-teaspoon by the time we quit yesterday. I had no idea the stuff was so concentrated! Scott suggested we try the liquid dye to get more consistent color, since we were using such small amounts that there was no way to know if the color grains were evenly distributed. Today we started with half as much of the liquid dye, thinking it was twice as strong as the powder, but it turned out to be only half as strong. So we went back to a half-teaspoon. The color was a lot more even and less pink than with the powder, especially on the silk.

In the final load, we upped the amount of dye another "dash" (eighth-teaspoon; Pandora's measuring spoons are actually labeled this way!) since there would be a lot more fabric in the load. It didn't look like dyeing; it looked like washing clothes in well-water, tinted yellow from too much iron. Still, we ran an extra rinse (I think the "dash" may have been a "pinch" too much!) before drying the jumpsuit.

dye trials

Above, the three large pieces across the top are a swatch of the original silk vest, original bright white jumpsuit, and the sleeve of the final dyed jumpsuit. The smaller swatches along the bottom are from our trials.

I think it turned out pretty well, and I'm satisfied. Which is good, considering I've never dyed anything before and was terrified of ruining the suit after all the work that went into it! I think I'd like to tint the vest eventually, but I have to do more experimenting to get the right recipe for that. For now, there is *just* enough contrast between the suit and vest that I'm going to leave it alone.

The hours with Pandora flew by! We seem to have a lot in common, from sewing to experiments in food. Stanley came home this evening on his dinner break and they invited me to stay for yummy BLTs and the most luscious cantaloupe I've ever tasted (and I don't like cantaloupe!). I told them both that they are very easy people to fall in with! I'm very glad Pandora hung on to my number for so long and that she called me when she did. Did I mention she also gave me all of her Viking embroidery designs? :)


Anonymous Shaina said...

This is so cool. I love hearing about your projects. You really know what you're doing! And all that work doing trial-and-error....holy heck.It's just so cool to see all the pictures and hear about your progress. ^^ Thanks for the update on your sewjourn!

9:53 PM  
Blogger Sophie Beall said...

I love this so much and am planning on doing it. How long did this jumpsuit take you to make?

7:34 PM  

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