Recently I was given the task of dyeing almost 20 metres of white silk for five bridesmaid's dresses as the colour was not available in the shops. The colour, and garment style, was chosen from a wedding magazine but the photo had been spot-lighted and this bounced back off the fabric making it somewhat difficult to determine exactly what was the colour.
Most fortunately, more than the actual fabric required had been purchased, so I was able to sample colours to get to the correct colour ie butter yellow. I made it with the fourth sample. The first sample was very much to see how the colours appeared on this particular silk, as one dye bath colour can vary on different fabrics (see Blog 31 August). The second sample was still too strong; the third was better but too 'cold'. At this point I decided to reduce the yellow dye and add an ecru dye. The ecru dye is an odd colour and insignificant on its own but will 'warm' and give some depth to a pale colour. The fourth sample was successful; we were both satisfied.
Then, of course, I had to repeat this with the bulk of the silk. There was far too much fabric to dye all in one dye bath by one individual, so it was cut into four sections and the cut ends overlocked to prevent fraying during the dye processes. I always keep very good records when I know I have to repeat a colour. The weight of each length was recorded and the dye, water, salt and soda ash quantities, plus the time frames for working through the processes were carefully determined. The fourth sample was the 'copy' to repeat. I religiously repeated this four more times, physically working the dye baths so that the resulting colour had no resisted areas, and adding the chemical solutions in small increments. After rinsing and washing all lengths were ironed dry to give a professional finish.
Well, I did it! And I was delighted that the four pieces, and along with the original successful sample all matched beautifully. What a relief, whew..... The butter yellow fabric will now go to the dressmaker for her input. I am sure it will be a wonderful wedding.
The four samples, the top one being the chosen one
Ironing a silk length dry after dyeing
The four lengths, and the sample, awaiting collection
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