Monday, January 28, 2013

From the Renovation Diary

During a recent trip to the thrift store this skirt caught my eye.  It was at least five sizes too large and an unfortunately blasé shade of tan, but nearly brand new and, according to the label, 100% cotton (minus the decoration).  For less than ten dollars I decided it was worthy to be the first patient on which to try my hand at custom-dyeing.

As soon as I removed the necessary width of fabric (fortunately devoid of embroidery...don't know how I would have braved chopping it otherwise) from the back to trim it down to size, I saw the potential for a kick pleat in the back seam to balance the front interest.  Since the top-stitching was most likely polyester, I did all the sewing first with poly thread that matched the original color so that my top-stitching would come out the same after dyeing.

Using strips of the poor dissected work, I started test-dyeing.  I had the primary colors in RIT dyes and then a few neutrals, but since even the primaries I had tended to be less than pure, I needed to work some to get the right color.  I used taupe (green-based) because that was the general direction I was working, but it was really just a darker shade of the same blasé color I was starting with...I wanted even more green and a richer color.   Some dark green (which was remarkably strong and more blue than I thought it would be, so I didn't end up using the blue at all) joined the mix, scarlet red (also too strong at first, but made the color pop once I got it right) and golden yellow to warm it a bit.
At this point, the color was too bright...I wanted it to be rich but I added a pearl grey to tone it down.  First too red, then too green...I had about three swatches that were complete misses and three less than satisfactory.  Finally, the right color emerged, and after finishing out the kick pleat and seam, my venture "took the plunge" in a deep dark brew and percolated for a bit less than an hour.  

My only trepidation was concerning that ruffle, which was definitely some kind of nylon (the tag did not oblige with info on this score).  I had no idea how it would take the dye, nor did I intend to remove it all and dye it separately, since it was obviously attached with nylon thread for a slightly shirred look...I didn't want to mess with it, so I took a risk and left it.

I had aimed for a chartreuse-based taupe or brown, so when the nylon ruffle came out in that green, I'll admit I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised.

The experience was exhilarating to say the least, primarily because I received such a good return on laying out very little money and a few hours of easy labor.  I don't count the full cost of the dye, since I laid in a good store of it that will last me at least another three or four garments.  There you have it...a brand new skirt for ten dollars in exactly the desired shade!


Melissa M. said...

This is so neat! I've never tried anything like that. How did you NOT dye the embroidery (or is it all beads and sequins)?

Emily Lenz said...

+Melissa M.
The embroidery was beads, sequins and thread which turned out to be some kind of synthetic material, since it didn't take the dye. I had no idea what it would do going in. :)