Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ice Dyeing

Quite a while ago, I had a sewing intensive week and make a number of clothes for myself. I used linen for all of them

(Ah, linen. How do I love thee? Thou art easy to sew and a good weight for clothing, allowing projects to look and feel professional. Thou art casual and comfortable when unironed and tossed into dryer for a quick fluff. Thou art classical beauty and simplicity itself. Also, dearest linen, thou wast on sale.)

and I used quite a bit of plain, unbleached linen, some of which I made into a tunic and a dress and some of which I ice-dyed.


Yes. It's lovely. Let me tell you about it.

First, I collected about a grocery bag's worth of ice. Being stingy, I took 2 days to make it in our ice trays instead of paying $2.50 for a bag of ice. Then I wet the fabric, squeezed out the excess, and then scrunched it into a rectangle. For this technique, it's better to scrunch (think of the fabric going up and down, hills and valleys) than layer or fold. Since I didn't know exactly how it would look, I dyed more fabric than I needed for the shirt so that I would have enough that I could pick and choose which parts I wanted. I used one package of Dylon fabric dye, in navy blue.

Then I poured the ice on top. You want enough ice to cover your fabric. Scrunch your fabric into a smaller area if necessary. (Twinkle was a very enthusiastic helper.)

Then I sprinkled the powdered dye on top of the ice. 

Twinkle got a little blue on his hands, but it could have been much, much worse.

Due to poor planning, we did this project just as the sun was going down. You're supposed to wait for the ice to melt, but it wasn't melting very fast. (Which tells you how long ago these pictures were taken, as it is now warm enough to melt a brass monkey at 10 o'clock at night.) We experimented some with a hair dryer, which Twinkle was very keen on, but it didn't seem to speed the process up much.

See? Still not melted. If I had thought of pouring hot water over the ice, that might have done some good.

Eventually we gave up and rinsed the fabric off in a bucket. After rinsing a lot of times, I ran it through the washer and dryer.

See how pretty?

I love how random the splotches are, which is pretty necessary for this project because - control? You have none. Which is a bit liberating, once you get used to it.

 I made a large, drapey shirt with turned back cuffs and a wide V-neck. I was mostly copying this picture, but I didn't use the measurements listed. (Also notice: that website is in Russian.) The effect isn't quite as dramatically drapey as I wanted, but for a first try, I'm very happy with it.

I sewed this top and my other linen projects with triple seams, which is where you take a French seam, iron it to one side and then topstitch it. French seams are necessary because linen frays like anything when you wash it in the machine, and the topstitching makes the seam lie flat, which looks nicer. 

This gives your project a very professional look and feel and I think it is well worth the extra time. Also it makes your garment last longer because the seams are stronger.

Another detail I like is the loops I put in to keep my bra straps hidden. These loops are sewn to the shirt on one side and snapped on the other, so they're easy to flip under my bra strap and fasten. I sewed the snaps to the neckline facing, so none of the stitches show on the outside. I like wide necklines, but since I have little boys who have only a tenuous grasp on the concept of personal space or appropriate behavior (and since I don't spend my days artfully reclining against a tree) the loops help a lot to keep my neckline where I want it. 

This was a really really simple dyeing project and such a fun technique. I love using the navy dye because it looks like traditional Japanese shibori, but it also looks really pretty when you use green, or pink, or even when you mix colors. This would be a lovely way to personalize a tablecloth or dish towels, if you're not inclined to sew. 

Much fun! 

A small amount of grass was killed in the making of this garment.

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