Overdyeing Silk

Dyeing things gives me such a rush. It feels like magic, and also like haha! I got what I wanted for next to nothing!

A sewing friend who was moving away (a long time ago now) gave me some silk (crepe de chine?) from her fabric stash. Silk! I’ve never sewed with silk before. But I was stumped. The colors are all very, very pale, and I just couldn’t imagine myself wearing them. Paleness tends to wash me out. Months later I had a brainflash. What if I dyed the silk? But silk. Silk! It took me a long time to work up my nerve.

Finally, months after that, I started with a small piece and used the old Easter egg/ Kool Aid dye technique.

Initially I was going to try some embroidery or resist or something to give it some more interest, but then decided to keep it simple. I ended up really liking the color. Warning, though—-this was German Easter egg dye. PAAS will work the same, but I find their colors to be a bit, well, Easter eggy—whereas this green was nice and grassy. You can always mix your PAAS or Kool-Aid colors to get something a bit more nuanced. I think there are even tutorials out there on mixing Kool-Aid colors—-usually with regards to yarn dyeing.

On to silk batch #2. I was a little bolder this time with several larger pieces of pale blue, and decided for an indigo color using two shades of Deka fabric dye.

I didn’t use a full load of dye, but the fabric didn’t take the color as deeply as I’d expected. The blue I ended up with was beautiful but dried a good bit lighter than I wanted:

I really liked the mottled effect I got in this first dye job:

I dyed it one more time to get a deeper color. It doesn’t show up quite true in this photo (below), but I really like the way it turned out–it’s just a tiny bit deeper than the middle tone. The mottled effect is gone, though. I’m planning to make another Anda dress out of the fabric. Wish me luck! My most recent sewing projects have not been going very well.

For tips on overdyeing, check out this previous post.  For more of my adventures in fiber art, click here.

Overdyed Pashmina Shawl

This was a fairly simple and oh-so-satisfying project. I bought the pashmina (silk and cashmere) for a few dollars at a thrift store and used it as a sort of throw in my son’s room when he was a baby. It was just the right color at the time, but after it outlived its usefulness, I felt obligated to wear it.

The problem was, it just wasn’t my color, so I never did. It seemed too luxurious to get rid of, so finally I decided to overdye it. I had to choose a color that was in the same vein but deeper. This coral color (Deka calls it “Hibiscus”) seemed just right, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. The color is very slightly uneven, but to me that’s just part of the charm of hand-dyeing.

I have to confess, though, that I’m still a little lost as to how to wear a pashmina shawl—maybe I should look for an online tute? The beading is also a little fancy for my taste. I could remove it, but that feels a little drastic. In the meantime, the shawl is keeping me warm at home.

For tips on overdyeing, see my post How to Overdye. If you’re in the US, I recommend dharma trading for supplies and directions. Remember: only try this with natural fibers, and please not with anything precious, because you never know what your results will be.

I threw in a few other things while the dye was ready, including this tablecloth from the thrift store here:

You may remember it from this earlier post. I love the dipped-in-Kool-Aid look it has here—so much more interesting than the brown on white. I’m planning to make some travel sacks for my daughter to pack her shoes and dirty laundry in. This always seems to be an issue when we travel, and it’s nice to have something handy and cute to use.

Speaking of fiber arts, the haiku sweater is off the needles (woowoo!) and Amy Karol had this great post on knitting attitudes the other day. And by the way she seems to have found a similar cookie thing like ours (where you can print letters) at Williams Sonoma. She’s a much more patient mommy than I am because she let the kids do a bajillion different words. I’m inspired.

Also, regarding fiber arts, I was totally happy to see the return of annekata. She had quit blogging for awhile, but she’s back!

Another Recycled Cashmere Scarf

It may be summer here, but in southern Africa, Lesotho to be exact, it’s rather chilly right now. My friend Megan is a physician there, and to warm her up, I sent her this scarf. It started out life as a thrifted Banana Republic sweater in a dingy blue-grey color. I felted it (didn’t shrink much), dyed it greenish-blueish aqua with kool-aid, cut it into strips, and sewed it into a gathered scarf. I embroidered over the little bitty holes in it, too. See my other cashmere scarf post for more detail.

For information on dyeing cashmere, see this post. For information about overdyeing, click here.