Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Printing and Painting and Dyeing, Oh My!

I haven't been terribly prolific in the sewing department recently, but I have been VERY adventurous with color!  First I broke out my print block, with great success.  I'm still sitting on the in-progress photos of the item I am making from my newly printed fabric, but I am not above sharing a teaser shot that makes it look like I am really good at matching prints:

Then my birthday gift from Brian the Engineer arrived - ivory Hartfields!  I wore them around the house for three or four hours after opening the package, and honestly forgot that I had them on a couple times.  They are very comfortable.  :)

But I was not about to let them stay ivory forever.  After admiring them for a couple more days, I broke out the second part of my gift - a shoe painting kit, and got to work.  I mixed paint for about an hour before I was satisfied with the shade.  I was aiming for a deep, warm butterscotch color and trying to avoid mustard.  :p  When I was finally happy with the color (mostly sick of mixing paint) I followed the American Duchess tutorial for the painting process.  Sorry there are no in-progress photos, but I was focused on painting!  :(

I was pleased to see that after it dried, the honey-mustard colored paint I had ended up with did deepen and darken as it dried to more of a Werther's hard candy color.  And the more I looked at it, the more I loved it!

After three thin coats I let them dry overnight.  In the morning I liked the color even better, and I could also tell it needed one more coat.  After that dried I put on the finisher and started thinking about how best to dye the shoelaces to match the new color of the boots.

I had a couple of things I'd been meaning to dye that I'd been putting off for a while, and I decided to do both of them and the shoelaces all at once.

The first thing was a white ostrich feather that I had vague ideas about using on a bonnet.  For some reason I wanted it gold.  I will admit here and now that I had no idea how to go about dyeing a feather.  I still don't know.

I used Lemon Yellow and Tangerine RIT dyes.  This is how it looks now, after it has dried completely.  I cannot seem to get it to fluff back up again, so my thought is that there is still dye that needs to be rinsed out, possibly?  Anyway, it was a learning experience.  I moved on, as I had bigger fish to fry.

Next were the shoelaces.  To the previous orangey attempt at gold, I added more Lemon Yellow, more Tangerine, and just a splash of Kelly Green to tone down the brightness.  I also added more water and salt to the dye pot, mixed it more thoroughly, and tested strips of white cotton muslin before I decided I was satisfied with the color.  The shoelaces took the dye much more readily than the muslin, and when I rinsed them out they resembled whole wheat spaghetti!  But I was ok with them being more brown than orange.  I just didn't want them to clash horribly with the boots.  I let them dry for a full day, and lo and behold!

Once dry, they were the perfect color!  I was not expecting that.  :p

But I still had more dyeing to do.  This one was the big one, both in size and in scope.  Remember my green straw bonnet from last year?  Well, I loved it and all, but I wanted to be able to wear it with more things.  Specifically, this green ribbon sash I bought from Dames a la Mode:

See how horribly the two greens clashed?  Also, I wanted more contrast between the bonnet and my Blue Day Dress, since it looked too much like I was trying to match it and had failed.  So I decided to dye the bonnet to match the ribbon!  I knew it would be tricky, as taffeta catches the light so differently from cotton, but I would settle for a close approximation.

To my brownish-gold dye bath I added copious amounts of Kelly Green, testing swatches and adding more Lemon Yellow until I ran out entirely, at which point I began praying that I hadn't added too much green too fast.  I decided to be brave and test a scrap of the bonnet fabric, and it didn't look too bad!  I had actually been nervous that the bonnet fabric wouldn't take dye properly, as I'm not sure it's 100% cotton.  But it took beautifully!  I think I added a dash more Tangerine and then tested another scrap, this time taking it to the iron to dry it so I could see the final color.  It wasn't perfect, but I decided it was as close as I was likely to get!

Left to right:  undyed scrap, first and second test scraps, final color, ribbon of goal color
The moment of truth had arrived.  I prepped the bonnet by running it under hot water, being sure to saturate every part so that it would absorb the dye evenly.  (I forgot to mention I also did this with the shoelaces and feather before dyeing them.)  Then I gently added it to the dye pot gently simmering on the stove, and poked it down with a wooden spoon until it was thoroughly soaked.  After a few agonizing minutes of stirring constantly to ensure no part was left un-dyed, I took it out and rinsed it forever and ever under hot running water.  Then when I was satisfied(ish) that no more dye was coming out, I switched to cold water and continued rinsing to help set the dye.

(It is here that I will point out that before I started my dyeing shenanigans, I ran my plans past Brian the Engineer.  He warned me that the straw part would likely not take the dye in the same way as the fabric part, and that I might not like the result.  I assured him that I was prepared for this to not go as planned, and if it was an utter failure I would just make a new bonnet.  However, I was anticipating that the straw part would, in fact, absorb no dye as I was sure that it was not a natural fiber.  But I am pleased to say that we were both wrong!  Well, I was more wrong than he was.  :p  The straw DID absorb the dye in much the same way as the fabric, and I DID like the result!)

I was worried initially that I had let it soak too long, as it was much darker and greener than I was going for.  But I did know that I needed to let it dry before I could determine the final color.  Being impatient, I threw the thing in the dryer with a towel to help it along.  I am pleased to say that I LOVE the final color!  It is as close as I could have gotten to the ribbon sash, and I think it makes the design look much more cohesive and planned-out.  I do love it when things work out that way.  :)

It looks like a completely different bonnet!  For reference:

I'm definitely liking the new look better.  :D  And look at all of the things it matches now!

I am midway through hemming the paisley shawl, and I've worn the ribbon sash and the gloves together previously.
Before I poured my hard-earned dye lot down the drain, I threw in my remaining scraps of pre-pleated fabric leftover from making the bonnet.

I plan to use these to create fun shoe clip decorations for my Pemberlies.  Of course, it may be a while before I wear them again, as my gorgeous new Hartfields currently hold most of my shoe-related affection.

So pretty!  
I can't wait to wear them out and about!  :D  And now that I have the shoe-painting kit, my fingers are itching to start painting my other four pairs of American Duchess shoes...  Pinterest, here I come!


  1. All of your coloring experiments turned out wonderfully, I think. I especially think the bonnet is a good change. The green is quite nice (and I'm surprised the straw took so much dye!).

    Feathers generally require a hair dryer to fluff them up after dyeing. If you just let them dry on their own all the little fluffy bits (technical term is eluding me right now) don't fluff up again. Hopefully that tip helps.


    1. Thanks! I will try re-wetting and drying the feather with a hair dryer. :)