Sunday, January 24, 2010

Another round of dyeing -1/20/2010

Well, the mysterious blue incident of 1/18/2010 left me befuddled. I came up with several plans:

1) try using the original Dharma Emerald green in a lower concentration for a lighter green.

2) try again using the ProChem Spring green - I kept looking at this sample and it grew on me. I had washed one of the two sleeves in Synthrapol (crazy good detergent for use before and after dyeing). Although initially it appeared to have made no change, once the sample dried, it was definitely a different, less teal type color. I kind of liked it.

So my original mission on 1/20/10 was to try and do the Spring Green again. Initially I thought it still looked all teal-y and horrible. This turned out to be a good thing, b/c I started dyeing with the two emerald dyes and ended up leaving the Spring green in the soda ash wash (you use soda ash to set the dye) for nearly an hour. And it yielded a very pretty color.

And so did the Dharma Emerald Green. And the Pro Chem Emerald Green - well, I actually don't like it so much anymore. Unfortunately it's pretty much impossible to convey the true colors through photos. To look at this, the bottom skein, which is the Pro Chem Emerald Green is by far the prettiest, but in real like it's a little too yellow I think.

The Dharma Emerald is in the middle and the ProChem Emerald is on top (and it's looking blue again. Sheesh. It doesn't look that way in real life). I've been carrying these three skeins around with me all day, looking at them in different lights, etc.

I think what I'm going to need to do is knit another swatch and then dye the swatches and see how that goes. But I feel hopeful. Hopeful! A night of dyeing and I actually could live with and/or actively like all of the results. Hooray!

I also started knitting a new sample sleeve - I was very industrious on 1/20/2010. This new sleeve is based on the idea of knitting the sleeve back and forth (so the pattern is perpendicular to my shoulder) and simply binding off or decreasing on either end to taper the sleeve, as opposed to the original sleeves I knitted, where I started with just a couple of stitches and then increased out in pattern to the widest point, then decreased again at the other end. Hm. That was surprisingly hard to describe in writing. I'll have to take a picture.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New top

So after the blue dyeing debacle of Monday 1/18, I felt the need to take a break from dyeing and instead did some work on the new top of the dress.

I had received the new bra I ordered from Victoria's Secret to be sewn in, but despite the fact that I've been a 34A since 1994 and every bra I've ever had from Victoria's Secret has been a 34A, this bra did not fit. It was in fact, too small, which if you're familiar with my bust size, is almost amusing.

I'm thinking I'm going to ditch this built in bra idea. I only had a half formed concept of how it would work and it's just turning into a pain in the butt, when I'd originally conceived it as something that would be nice and simple. Although Mom did tell me that there's a store near her shop called Bra La La and suggested we go there to look. I might do that just based on the name.

I had to recut a new front piece with a wider, slightly lower scoop neck and I feel good enough about it that I'm going to cut it in the green silk essence and see how it goes. Just going to do spaghetti straps of the same fabric, not try to find rattail cord as is the plan with the real dress.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


So I had the emerald green from ProChem that was the front runner for dye colors. I decided to do another test of it, with a slightly higher concentration of dye, b/c my results before were a little patchy and I just wanted another test.

Many hours (and my last swatch) later I had this:It's a horrible picture, but I had no energey to take a better one. See the swatch in the middle and the hank of yarn tied with red? You know, the ones that are BLUE.



Where in god's green earth did that come from?

For contrast, the blue (BLUE!?!?!?) swatch is laying on top of the original ProChem emerald green swatch. I also threw in the ProChem Spring Green swatch, which was original dismissed for being too turquoise. It's quite green by comparison.

After saying "Blue?" about 200 times and asking Justin what color he thought the swatch was (Blue. No surprise there. Boy's not color blind.), I finally gave up on dyeing for the night and made my self a large alcoholic beverage. This happened on Monday. It's now Thursday. I've only now had the strength to write about it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New skirt

Sewed it up last night. It will fit over my butt, with or without a train.


Monday, January 11, 2010


Last night I cut out the "muslin" again using the New Look pattern. I also went ahead and ordered a new copy of the pattern online, since the pattern envelope and the first page of instructions remain stubbornly missing. After looking up the pattern back online I realized that since it's a Junior pattern, I needed to cut out a size 11-12. That was a little weird (I'm a size 6 in ready made clothes), but patterns do tend to run crazy small for some reason.

The skirt is MUCH narrower - I bet I lost 18-24" of the full skirt circumference. Which is very good. I actually have slight doubts about it fitting over my ass, but with the train in there I'm sure it will be fine. I don't want a situation where I have to wear pantyhose.

So I cut the new skirt from the pieces of the old skirt and the new top from some cotton poplin I had lying around (leftovers from Justin's Dr. Horrible coat from Halloween 2008). Although I liked having the lighter, silkier fabric to see the drape on the first mock up dress, the fabric frays like crazy and isn't very practical for reusing as a pattern. My plan is to fit it using the poplin pieces, like a traditional muslin, then deconstruct and use them as the pattern - first for the green mock dress and finally for the real ivory dress.

I'm modifying the V neck top (it's the yellow dress in the sketches on the bottom) so that it's a scoop neck.

It sounds more complicated than it is.

And I was finally able to find a bra on sale to work into the dress. I'm planning to sew it into the dress so that I have the dress straps giving me support through the bra and don't have to wear a strapless.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


So really, I've been dyeing for awhile now. Back since the end of November. But December was a crazy month and there was no time to blog.

No time.

So anyway. Dyeing!

Okay, first of all, dyeing with fiber reactive procion dyes is a big pain in the butt. Not hard, per se, but a big pain in the butt. It has a lot of steps and involves a lot of measuring and is very meticulous. I don't like being meticulous. (In case you haven't noticed.) I also don't particularly like measuring.

So I ordered all the stuff from Dharma Trading Company (the name amuses Justin, big Lost fan that he is to no end) and commenced my first round of dyeing.

To begin with, if anyone is interested in reading the whole process, I'm using this set of instructions from Dharma's website. I did some other reading as well, but this is what I have printed out and take into the bathroom with me to dye.

As the fabric rested in the dye and later in the dye mixed with soda ash, I kept the bathroom door tightly closed to prevent any curious kitties from wandering in and trying the highly toxic dye. Justin came home from work and inquired if the bathroom was available for, you know, use. I said, yes, it certainly was. He added that he didn't want to be poisoned by toxic dye. I said that as he was unlikely to be curious enough to try drinking the pretty green water, he would probably be safe. His response is best left unprinted.

So the first round of dyeing, using Dharma's Emerald Green yielded a beautiful dark forest green swatch. I left one piece in for 15 minutes and one for 20, but there's very little difference in color. Those are the swatches on the far left and far right. Well, I liked this color, but it seemed a little dark. I showed it to Justin. He liked it, but after I asked him if he thought it was dark, he admitted that it was. We both felt it would be good for a wedding in say, March, but not so much for May. Jenny saw the swatches and loved them. My mom saw them later that month and didn't like them too much - she thought it would make the dress go from being ivory with green to just being green.

Clearly more samples were needed.

None of the other greens on Dharma looked anywhere near like something I'd like. So I went to PRO Chemical & Dye, the other big source for these type of dyes. Ordered two more dye colors - spring green and their version of emerald green. Well, spring green was a colossal failure. Those are the two little swatches in the upper middle, the ones that look almost turquoise. And therein lies the problem. They're turquoise. No good.

So finally, just this Monday, I dyed a swatch in PRO's Emerald Green. I really though we had a winner. I still think we might. I used half as much dye as I have for the others since my last Emerald swatch (the Dharma one) was so dark. And that may have been my mistake. The color looked great when I first pulled it out of the dye bath and then I even worried about it getting too dark. But unfortunately when I rinsed it, especially when I rinsed it with Synthrapol (which takes out the excess dye), a lot of the blue tones washed out and left it a little too yellow. Still, I have high hopes. It's the swatch in the middle, kind of around and under the other 4.

Here they are again, without the flash. The true colors are kind of in between the two pictures.

Not sure when I'll try another dye test - this time with the full amount of dye for the PRO emerald green. I also want to start working on redoing the dress mock up, and work on a new knit design for the sleeves. It's dawned on me that I might have to shake a leg a little so as not to be rushing through the home stretch.

I'm sure that surprises no one.