Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Adventures in dye-land

So last Sunday it was time for me to do what I had dreaded for a long time, it was time to dye the fabric for the gold handmaiden. I went home to my mother's house, since has both a good stove, larger pans than me, and a bath tub.

Before embarking on this adventure I was really scared of it, in the end I found that it's been pretty fun, especially if you aren't too picky with getting a certain shade but can accept some variety. Hopefully this will be helpful to some other who haven't dyed before.

First of all I washed my fabrics. Since it was silk I was a bit worried, but I was going to treat them a lot worse in the dye process than what the washing machine could do o them. I even put the silk/rayon velvet in the tumbler, and it turned out fantastic. I did this step last week.

When it was time to dye I started with soaking the fabric in really hot water in the bath tub. I had cut the fabric into three pieces, the general size of the pattern pieces.
 I used hot water since I didn't want the fabric to cool down the dye bath when I put it in. In the instructions it says to have the dye bath on the stove to keep the temperature, but that wouldn't be a good idea with a plastic container so I will have to do with the heat from the water when I pour it in.

While the fabric was soaking I boiled a lot of water on the stove, in my mother's biggest pots. I also put some water in the regular kettle. This water I poured into the container to heat it up, and then I poured it out again. I wanted the container to be hot when I poured the boiling water into it, so that it wouldn't cool down immediately.

Here you can see the two pots and the container, remember to protect the floor. One thing I also realized was that you don't need to fill the container. I filled it a bit more than half-full. You only need enough water, and space, so that the fabric can be moved around in it.

Now the velvet was very heavy when wet, so I had to split it in two batches for it to work. I put the first batch in and let it be there for 19 minutes, then I took it off, put it in the bath tub with cold water, reheated most of the dye bath in one of the pots and put the next batch in.

When the second batch had been in for 20 minutes I put them both in the washer and washed with a silk detergent in a cold water/hand wash cycle. Finally I put it all in the tumbler, on low heat.

While the velvet was in the tumbler I repeated the process with the silk taffeta. Only with this fabric I could put it all in one bath. I also didn't put it in the tumbler. Then I had to go home to my own place, so I hung all the fabrics up to dry in the bath room. (My mother's on a vacation trip, I wonder if she's going to be surprised when she gets home?)

Here are the fabrics hanging and you can immediately see that the velvet on the left, the first batch, has a totally different shade than the velvet on the right, the second batch. What must have happened is that the first batched sucked up most of the red pigments in the dye, leaving the second batch a more yellow/golde shade. The sad thing is that the second batch is perfect, so I will need to see if I can remove some of the dye from the first batch, or if it's possible to overdye it to become more yellow.

My plan now is that I have ordered some colour remover. I will cut up the velvet into the pieces I need to assemble the robe and hood, that should also leave me with a lot scraps so that I can do tests before trying to bring the both batches into the same colour. If I can't remove the red from the first batch I have another packet left of the original dye and then I need to dye the second batch again to give it more red.

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