Friday, 1 March 2013

Dye, Dye, My Darling... in which I try iDye and FAIL HORRIBLY.

Today was possibly the most disappointing day I have ever had in my years as a dressmaker. My dress didn't even get to be stitched together *sob*.

Last week I bought these glorious fabrics in the bargain bin at my local fabric shop. When you buy from the baskets, there's usually one piece and you'll never see that fabric again. You want it, you'd better be prepared to impulse buy, and fight a tiny Asian grandmother to get it.

Fabulous, right? The melon one, you'll be glad to know, is safe. I cut out my dress parts from it, bought some garish yellow trims, and you should be seeing the finished article in a couple of weeks. The leopard one however did not fare so well. I decided that I would make a bright yellow leopard print version of my usual sarong dress pattern, with black trims, black petal bust, and black lining to the draped overskirt. I could see it in my mind; this thing was going to be my new favourite outfit in the world, to be debuted at next week's Bedlam Breakout psychobilly weekender. I wasn't sure of the fibre content, so I used a Dylon hand dye in sunflower yellow. Trusty old Dylon eh? Nope.

It turned out a colour which I will politely refer to as pale lemon, but would prefer to (rather impolitely) refer to as I-boiled-this-in-a-bucket-of-my-own-piss yellow. Although annoyed at having spent £3.10 to turn my fabric such an insipid shade, I remained upbeat as we could now determine that the fabric had a high synthetic content and would need to be dyed with something suitable for polyester and nylon.

Picture by Dixie DIY

This is what I found. I think it's the only product available on the UK market for home dyeing synthetics, but it looked pretty good anyway. I did some research online as to what other bloggers' colour results had been for each yellow shade, and picked out the yellow iDye Poly and iDye for natural fabrics in 'Golden Yellow', as directed by the packaging in order to colour a cotton-synthetic blend fabric.

The instructions stated that the iDye Poly, poly colour intensifier, and iDye natural should be chucked into a pot of hot water together to dissolve, the fabric added and brought to the boil, and a US cup of salt added.

This is what it was supposed to look like. Via Live the Fancy Life

Problem 1. I didn't own a pot large enough to fit my whole 2.5m of fabric into. I decided to cut out all the parts of my dress, adding an extra 1/4" to each seam allowance to account for any shrinkage, fraying or wonkiness which may occur. The fabric had already been dyed and washed once so shrinking or twisting wasn't likely, but pre-cutting your pieces before dyeing is a risky strategy. It all fit into my largest pot, so I began the dyeing process.

Problem 2. The instructions said that in order for the dye to bond to the polyester fibres, I needed to keep the mixture at a 'rolling boil' for 30-60 minutes. My pot never came to the boil - it was always on the edge of simmering. This was probably because I was using a stoneware crock pot, not a metal pan, but I'm a woman living alone - I don't own a 12 litre stew vat! Frankly, the fabric looked alarmingly orange as soon as I put it into the dye bath. I thought it would rinse out to yellow, and persevered. Because the mixture never boiled, I left it in just over an hour.

Oranges and lemons... balls.

I rinsed. ORANGE. Not even orangey-yellow, ORANGE. These pictures don't even show the full horror of just how exceedingly jaffa-hued it was. I put it through a normal wash cycle at 40C with an extra rinse. Oompa Loompa. I put it through a 60C intensive wash cycle. Colour of a pornstar's palms.

I decided it was time for desperate measures. I filled the sink with warm water and added 60ml (1/4cup) of household bleach, followed by the damp fabric pieces. Nothing. I doubled the bleach and agitated it for ten minutes... the water turned yellow but the fabric looked unchanged. I ended up with 300ml of bleach in the sink, and a mild chemical burn on my hands (no, I don't own rubber gloves. If I did they'd no doubt be orange by now). The fabric faded by a couple of shades, so I chucked it into the washing machine, thinking the residual bleach coupled with some heat and agitation would loosen the dye from the fibres. I whacked the temperature up to 90C.

Who ya gonna call?

Then this happened. So, yeah, turns out thick bleach foams in hot water. At least I can be sure that my washing machine's innards are utterly germ-free now.

Finally, I took the fabric out of the washer. It was still sodding orange, but it had definitely become lighter, and would probably be just about acceptable when it dried. Then, ULTIMATE HORROR!

Yep... the print which had survived four washes, two dyeing attempts, being just under boiling temperature for over an hour, and being soaked in a sink of toilet-strength bleach for half an hour, had given up the ghost and come off in the final wash, turning a vile shade of rusty brown. I was utterly dejected, and my dreams of the perfect dress went up in a puff of smoke. Just as this fabric will be doing when I burn it in the garden tomorrow and dance around nude, wailing at passers-by and smearing myself with its (no doubt bright orange) ashes.

By the way, the fabric, multiple dyes, salt, and copious amounts of electricity used cost me about £20. Bargain bin fabric? I think not.



  1. Hehe I hate it when fabric dying goes wrong this always seems to happen to me. I actually quite like the orange colour it was when you first dyed it. Its such a pain though when you want a specific colour. I always find dying things grey is literally impossible!

  2. The final colour? I like it, but then I like orange. I can imagine how mad you must feel though for all that time, money and effort to end up with something you hate.

  3. For some very strange reason, as I don´t like orange at all (hate is such a harsh word), I kinda like the final result. (Maybe you could turn it into a costume for halloween so you didn´t waste the time and money for nothing? Like, the Flintstones or something?)
    And oh my god the washing machine!

  4. remember being careful with bleach ladies! over 30 degrees can get it forming really nasty gases, and can give you braindamage!!!
    so you shouldn't put bleachy stuff in anything warmer than 40 degs wash...