Saturday, June 12, 2010


Last year, I was in the USA on the anniversary of Woodstock. I was amazed and intrigued by the number of people sporting their tie-dyed shirts - you could tell some were new and some looked like originals, the wearers included, if you know what I mean. Anyway, since then, it seems to me there has been a revival of tie-dyed stuff, some good and some not so good, some psychedelic and some subdued.
I have always been a fan of random prints and batiks but they can be hard to come by. I made ‘A-shirred’, (the pattern is in No 53) in a raw silk yarn  (Yeoman Yarns Silk Bourette) that only comes in the natural colour, with the idea that I was going to get creative and somehow paint/dye/embellish/whatever and do something to my finished garment as my statement on the influence of tie-dye stuff.
Kelly Ripa on the morning show has been wearing this lovely dress by Michael Kors that is a very subtle abstract print blend of pale blues and greens, more pastel-y than I prefer for myself but I found it very attractive. I wasn’t sure what I really wanted the finished product to be, other than an experiment. And I figured, what the heck? if I didn’t like the result, I’d go buy some more ‘Rit®’ and over-dye it (VBG)!!
A couple of good friends who sounded like they knew more about it than I did, took me to a craft store to shop for supplies. After reading labels and debating among ourselves, I ended up with this tie-dye kit (it is actually called ‘Tie Dye Kit by Jacquard, for use with natural fiber fabrics’ - which my friends both seemed to think was a good brand) and a bunch of kids’ paint brushes in various sizes that I could use to ‘paint’ on the dye. The kit chosen, was supposed to, we thought, have red, yellow and blue powdered dye that, in theory, I could use to mix any colour I wanted. At home, reading the ‘fine print’, I had turquoise, fuschia and yellow - yes, those true psychedelic colours!!

Well, undaunted, this morning, with no home-dinner dates planned, I jumped in!

A couple of weeks ago, I had purchased a new grill and while unpacking it for assembly, I realized I could use the plastic bags the pieces were packed in as filler for my dyeing project, so I saved them all - there was one big enough to put over the top of my round dining table for protection. I had an old padded tablecloth, previously ruined in a past experiment (No 32, Leaf It To Me) - that time I was using fabric paints and working on dry fabric, but this one was a wet job. I began by soaking the finished garment, my original tension swatch, and an extra hood - the first was too short and I’d made the second one without having to unravel it. The garment and swatch had been laundered already, but the extra hood had not - I don’t know if it made a difference, but washing out whatever sizing, wax, etc wouldn’t hurt. The kit included a packet of ‘soda ash’ to pre-soak the items to make the dye hold better. We had chosen this type of kit/dyes, because there seemed to be no need to ‘heat-treat’ the final thing. So, while the items were soaking for 20 minutes in the soda ash, I began mixing colours and soon realized nothing much is going to take the turquoise (a colour I loathe) out of turquoise and there was not a great amount of each coloured powder. So, after messing and mixing with tiny, weeny dibs, I came up with several colours, shades of greens, blue, brown and a pinky-red, to experiment with on the swatch and felt that I could live with them.

I stuffed the extra hood to plump it up and practised a bit - I had this vision of sea anemones - I don’t even know what they are, but that came to my mind - that I thought I could manage to paint on my sweater. I’ll admit, it was a fluke - my brush dripped on the first try and I drew a line to connect the dots....

Anyway, I stuffed the garment with plastic bags, I even blew up some zip sandwich bags - that worked really well - because the garment was wet, and I didn’t want it to bleed through, I wanted each layer/side to be separated, stuffed the sleeves as well - then I began painting my vine-y anemones - I thought it was really cool how the colour bled and aura-ed at the edges and I was pretty psyched as the project progressed - the plan was to be able to leave this thing to dry undisturbed for 24 hours, so I had to make sure no portion of it was overlapping - as I finished a sleeve, I wrapped it in plastic so I could manouevre the whole thing, flip it over and work on the back without worrying that the sleeve would infect another part... how’s that for confidence - I actually started on the front - well, really, I had planned to start on the back and work out the kinks - who cares what you look like when you’re leaving anyway? - but in my hurry to begin, I forgot...

I’m finished, pretty happy and tomorrow, I’ll let you know...


TracyKM said...

That looks really cool!!
(How do you get your photos to enlarge when you click on them? I tried the 'small' setting on my blog and that didn't work)

Ev said...

Now that I've seen this garment in person, I think it's a gorgeous piece of art - really! Just beautiful and so very, very different! Love it! Must try this :)