Saturday, April 19, 2014

Skinny Dipping

While most everyone is busy coloring eggs for Easter, I've been busy at work.....dyeing fabric! Dip dye, to be exact. Some of you might know this as "ombre" the Spanish word adapted for a graduated drench of color.

With this very simple technique, there are many design options. It's just a matter of planning where you would like the point of color to be introduced and the fabric. I will tell you straight away to do as I say and not as I did. Test your color on the fabric first! The denim sheath dress was my first attempt and it was much more successful than I imagined. I was so sure the other natural fibers would yield the same intensity, I did not test it before making the garment. The (faded) purple over ecru wool basic dress worn by Gunilla (the blonde) was supposed to be navy! I hated the result and nearly threw the whole thing out. But then I decided to try it on the doll and to my surprise, it had a very "vintage" look. So I completed it and feel differently. I did test the color on the chiffon dress because it is polyester, a fabric which doesn't take the dye well. I started with navy, then dunked it in black for an hour and it came out pretty much as I anticipated. The red in the habatai silk two-piece wrap dress came out pink.

Since these are tiny garments, you need not use the entire package or even half. I call it "teacup dyeing." One teaspoon of powdered dye to a cup of hot water is more than enough. Wear gloves to keep from staining your fingers. You can add a teaspoon of salt to the dye bath for a darker color.

I started out first by making the garment or at least parts of the garment. You can control how deep you want the dye to travel up (or down the garment) by drenching more or less of garment or fabric into the dye. Just make sure there is a part of the garment which not immersed. You must leave it in the hot bath for at least 15-20 minutes. Rinse first with cold water, then lukewarm until the water runs clear. Afterwards, I wash in soapy water then rinse again until the water runs clear.

For the wrap dress, I dipped only the end points and the belt extension of the blouse into the dye as well as one side of the wrap skirt.

Of course, you can always dip dye a length of fabric and let it fall where it wants to fall in your design. And, don't think the fabric always has to be solid. Try prints, plaids or tweeds!


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6 comments:

  1. I can't believe it! I can't try this or I'll wind up completely died in blue, I know myself, but I'm really impressed!

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    1. Two words: Rubber Gloves! This post took longer than I thought it would because it has an unpredictable element--the dye which can make or break the look of the garment. There are no do-overs. Either it works or not. On the other hand, even the worst of mistakes can still pass on a gorgeous doll. But if you're tempted to try but still a bit shy, start with a pastel color.

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  2. I've never been a fan of ombre anything, but the chiffon dress that looks like a storm cloud is a real work of art. Wonderful!

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    1. Thank you. Ombre by itself, can be a bit of a bore. I think the trick is to use it to do something creative. I would still like to play with it more to create a flower petal effect, for example.

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  3. I love the ombre in the middle with the flower accent

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    1. Simplicity is the hardest thing to do and do well. As I tried to save that dress, I started out heavy-handed adding lots of lace which hid the original concept. Then, I recalled the advice of the French couturier, Hubert de Givenchy--"before you leave out in the morning, take one last look in the mirror and take something off. I removed the lace over skirt and replaced it with a thin violet accent. Less is often more!

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