Saturday, 11 October 2014

Adventures in dy(e)ing


Decided to use the dwarf lady costume for Desucon Japan and quickly realised I had my work cut out for me the moment I remembered that someone had thrown/given away 30% of the costume due to moving house and simply not being pleased with some of the costume parts.

The first part I've finished is this linen shirt (handsewn, with linen thread because it will find its way into my viking wardrobe once I am finished crying after the last Hobbit movie).

I've hoarded onion peel for about six months with plans of trying natural dyeing. Once I had finished the shirt I decided no time's like the present and set to work.

Here are two test swatches. Undyed linen underneath, swatch #1 is dyed with yellow onions, swatch #2 has red onions added to the dye. Fixative is vinegar. 

Thoughts I got while dyeing:
can you dye with blood...?
The shirt was too big for the pot I had boiled the dye in, so I had to put it in a larger container and mix the dye with more water to cover the shirt. Before I put it in, the shirt had been soaked in vinegar and water for a couple of hours, to get rid of chemicals from when I pre-washed the fabricand and to prep the shirt for dyeing.

This was my first time using vinegar as a fixative, so to be sure the dye wouldn't just wash out, I added half a kilo of salt to the mix and let everything sit overnight. The first four hours I turned over the shirt every now and then, to avoid uneven colouring.

The colours are a bit stronger in real life than in this pic.
... of course diluted red dye turns pink-ish. I'll have to wear a woolen sweater on top of this, because the colours clash with the rest of the costume. I've managed to swallow my pride and have decided to look upon the whole thing as a learning experience. On the positive side, the shirt is colourfast, even in the washer. (I had to give it a quick spin to get rid of the stench of vinegar and onions...)

Until next time I've hopefully learned a thing or two like, putting the shirt in the dye while it's still in the pot and then keep the whole thing warm for a while, using gloves (because in addition to reddish hands, vinegar and salt are not things you want on your hands when you're owned by a vicious cat beast who has made you bleed recently...), and that more onions=more dye=stronger colour.

And at last, a tip from my grandpa: if you have used one of grandma's pots to make dye in and in the process managed to dicolour it, you can scrub the pan with fine, fine sandpaper. Works wonders! 

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