Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dying Dresses

Happy Thursday, ya'll! Let's jump right into this one...

If you've followed me for longer than a few posts, you've known that I've been pretty obsessed with lace and nauticals lately. This one, although lacking the nauticals, certainly is lace. As much as I was in love with the lace, I was not loving the white. Folks, I am an extremely clumsy person who often spills coffee on my clothing and has a slight knack for drawing on my shirt without noticing. I took the opportunity to do my first dying!

I'm not lying when I say that the name had everything to do with my choosing this one. Also, WalMart had a whole 4 colors to choose from so the pickins' were already slim anyway.

Since the shirt was all cotton, I knew it would take to the dye pretty well. I got my bucket, filled it with steamin' hot water, a half a bottle of dye (this was probably excessive for one shirt) and a bit of salt. The salt ingredient isn't in the directions, but the many other blogs I've read that talk about dying often mention salt is important for... something to do with bright, rich colors. I then stuck the shirt in and let it soak, stirring pretty often, for about an hour.

I didn't want to ruin any of my spoons, so to stir this whole get-out I used the wooden/ribbon wands that I made for my wedding. Considering I had about 60 wands left after the reception, I had no problems parting with this particular wedding souvenir. 59 more dye jobs to go!

After I dyed the shirt and took it out after an hour, I spent about 30 minutes rinsing it under water to get the excess dye out. Once the water was turning semi-clear, I threw it in the washing machine with an old towel. At this point, I was anxious to see how my first dye job went. Because of this anxiety, I did something stupid. When this cotton shirt was finished washing I put this cotton shirt in the dryer... on high. I didn't think this one through at all, and in hindsight, I certainly should have because as I took my cotton shirt out of the dryer I slowly realized that it was much, much smaller. Fail. I put on the shirt and knew for a fact that I would never wear this midriff-bearing shirt. Brainstorming ensued.

Finally, I thought of something! Plan: buy some fabric, make a dress. Boom. So I bought some fabric made of cotton/spandex blend that would complement my newly dyed shirt. When I got it home, I realized this fabric was different than all the other fabrics I've bought. How is it different, you may ask. Well...
Ignore the crazy eye - I haven't quite gotten the hang of the red eye remover.
I had apparently managed to buy a yard and a half tube of fabric. Not sure how this happened, but it totally saved me from sewing a seam or two. My confusion turned to relief pretty quickly.

I had a piece of elastic in my craft room, so I measured it around my waist and sewed the ends together. As I wanted the elastic on the outside of the dress, I did a fancy-ish seam. My gut tells me it's called a "french seam" but I am unsure on this fact (google it). Basically, you sew it together, and fold it over the seam so the outside looks as such:

This makes it just a bit cleaner on the outside than just the cut end of the elastic. I then sewed my cotton/jersey fabric to the elastic. I read on a few blogs that when you're sewing dresses with elastic you should stretch out the elastic while sewing in order to keep a "ruffled" look and keep the stretch in it. This was - well - it was a mess. I kept stretching it, which then pulled the elastic faster through the needle and made the stitches uneven. I then tried to not pull it too hard, and ended up not stretching it at all. I kept going back and forth between great stitches and drunken sailor stitches. Again, no one will climb up my dress and inspect the inside seams, so I let it go.

Then, I cut my shrunken shirt shorter - to my natural waist - leaving a bit of a seam allowance. You'll notice on this picture as well that I'm in need of a longer ruler.

Once I had the top and the bottoms on the elastic, it all came together from there! I have a nice new dress with lace shoulders that is very, very comfortable. Check it!