Sunday, June 22, 2014

My BoHo Dress ~ Part Three: Dying

Day Three: Dying! One of my fav things to do. I started off with a medium color green dye and quickly dipped the dress into it. I wanted the whole dress to be a light green before I tie dyed it. When it was all over green, I then laid it out and from the middle out scrunched it up. When I had a ball of dress I used some rubber bands to hold it in place and put it back in the same medium green dye bath. I wanted random splotches of darker color.

 I let it sit for a long time. I hoped it would dye darker in the crinkles, but it just didn't look like it was doing anything. After about 40 mins, I dropped the soggy wad of dress into a plastic bag and microwaved it for 30 seconds, flipped it, and microwaved it another 30 seconds. That is what I do with wool fiber I dye. Crossing my fingers that it would work, I took it back outside and shook it out. It looked FANTASTIC! I was so thrilled! Such a beautiful emerald color, and the crinkly dye looked amazing! I let it dry just a little because I wasn't done. I wanted to try a gradient dye on the bottom tips of the skirt. I mixed up the dark green dye in a bucket and started dipping just the tips of the dress in it. In and out, in and out. Every time I dipped it in, I dipped it a little deeper. The idea is the tips will be in the dye the longest and will dye the darkest. It will slowly shade up the dress. I didn't go far up, I just wanted the bottom of the skirt to be dark. When I was satisfied with the result I hung it up to dry. It really did look awesome.

When it was still damp I took it inside to iron it. I still needed to add some embroidery to it, but time was running short. It needed to be wearable by the next morning. Somewhat to my dismay, as I was ironing it, it dried faster and the color is a whole lot lighter when it's dry. A whole lot lighter. I mean, it's still pretty, but I lost a lot of that beautiful emerald green color to more of a pastel, almost mint green. And for some reason, even tho I used 100% cotton thread to sew it up, the thread didn't dye evenly with the dress. Kinda bummed about that.

Maybe next time I'll try adding something to the dye bath to make it brighter. Vinegar or salt or something. I have some Alum still I use for wool, wonder if it will work for cotton... But that all for another day. I added some trim to the back to give it almost a corset lace up look and just barley started on the decoration (just a handful of beads on the neckline) before time was up.

But I was (and am) still proud of this dress. Even if it didn't turn out exactly as I had in mind, it was still great for a prototype. I do plan on making more and continuing to adapt it to make the dresses I adore. And yes, I did wear it to the Chicago Printer's Row Fair where I met one of my favorite authors and she signed my copy of her new book. Laurell K. Hamilton and Shiver Of Light.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My BoHo Dress ~ Part Two: Construction

I don't usually use patterns, but I also didn't want anything to go wrong with this dress. I had a vague idea that I wanted to wear the finished product (if it turned out) to the Chicago Printer's Row Fair. In 3 days. Dunno why I gave myself so few days to do it. But I had it all worked out. Day one would be shopping and planning, day two was cutting and sewing, and day three was dying and embroidery. It seemed so easy.

Day One: I bought a pattern for 3 bucks. I like the b dress but I want a more open neck line, fuller skirt, and handkerchief hem. I bought the cheapest cotton muslin I could find, 3 bucks a yard. Knowing I was gonna heavily modify the pattern I got 6 yards but only used about 4. I might make a shirt or skirt out of the rest. I also picked up a couple small packets of Rit Dye. All told it came under 25 dollars. Less because I had so much muslin left over, I didn't need to buy 6 yards for the one dress.

Here is the pattern I mostly used. I went with the "B" style dress on the left, but didn't use the sleeves and changed the neck, skirt and hem.

And the back of the packet. It says I didn't need much more than 3 yards, but I like to over estimate that by a lot.

I always have a hard time laying out the pattern pieces like the instructions show you. It never fits quite right. I was supposed to be able to get 3 long pieces across, that didn't happen.

After cutting out the pieces I pinned a piece of scrap paper to it with what the piece was and the number it was listed. This helps in telling front from back pieces because they all look so much alike.

All the pieces waiting to be assembled. I cut it all out in one night and used the next morning to sew it.

Day Two: This day nearly called off the whole project. I love my sewing machine, but it is very old. Its a big heavy metal Singer, the kind meant to last forever. Well lately I've noticed the foot pedal hasn't been as responsive as it usually is. I took it apart and found that the cord that goes to the pedal splits into 2 wires that slip over these 2 metal tabs inside the pedal. One of those tabs was hanging by a thread and about to break off. I've known this for a while and was just very ginger about handling it. Don't bump it, move it very gently. It chose this day to break. Now I know we own another plastic sewing machine, but do you think I could find where we stored it? Of course not. We also have 2 treadle sewing machines, but I don't know how to load the bobbin, and it stores so little thread it has to be loaded a lot. If I broke that or messed up the tension Dad would have a heart attack. The treadles are kinda his babies.  If I had to hand sew the whole thing I would never have it done in 2 days. So I McGuyvered my sewing machine with a bit of tape to hold the wire in place.


Here is the assembled dress by the end of Day 2. I had hoped to start dying it that day too, but the sewing machine fiasco set my time table back quite a bit.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My BoHo Dress ~ Part One: Frustration

I have a favorite style of dress. I have no idea if it has a name. I call them Those-Hippie-Ethic-Tie Dyed-No-Wait-I-Think-It's-Called-Batik-Dresses. A cumbersome name, I know. They are hard to describe so I'll link a bunch of pictures to help. If anyone knows if they have an actual name, please let me know it!

(all pictures found on Google, I own none of these images)

They are rather loose and flowing dresses. A light weight material that has been tie dyed, but not the tie dye most people think of :

No, not that kind of Tie Dye. A subtle play of color, usually one color that is just darker in some spots than in others. Maybe batik instead of tie dye.

This one is probably the best example
of what I am trying to describe.

They are almost always one size fits all, a major drawback for a woman of my...ahem...ample proportions. To make it look fitted there is usually rows of elastic sewn into the top. When the dress is relaxed, the elastic pulls it into puckers and gathers. There is also almost always some embroidery on them. Maybe tiny beads or sparse sequins. They come in many colors but all are usually darker. Dark royal blue, deep violet, emerald green, etc.

Ok, I just spent way too much time describing the dresses I like. Back to the story. There are a few stores in my area that sell dresses like this. (Stores like this usually also sell incense sticks, Grateful Dead tee shirts, and black light posters) While I know I really can't afford them and they rarely fit, I still like to pet and gaze longingly at them. At one such store a couple weeks ago I was checking out this amazing emerald green gradient dyed, handkerchief hem, sleeveless, corset back... there I go again. Anyway, this pretty dress marked 48 dollars when the sales person came over and told me the dresses were all 25 bucks. Totally not believing him I asked about the one I was holding. He nodded and told me that one was 20 bucks. Ecstatic I tried it on. Didn't fit. Undaunted, I tried on about 8 more dresses. Not a bloody one fit. I was both crushed and determined. If I couldn't buy the dress I wanted, I would make it. And I would make it for the 20 bucks the salesperson would have given it to me for.