Experiments with fabric dye
… Or “What happens when you try to dye wool and cashmere with regular fabric dye”.
In my May Purchases post I briefly mentioned that I had recently done a few experiments with fabric dye. The three garments that I dyed were hanging in my closet quite unloved, and I hoped that dying them would make them a bit more wearable. Dying can be a quite straightforward affair, but once you throw wool fibres into the mix things can get quite tricky. I didn’t use special dyes, just regular dyes for use in a washing machine (such as Dylon and similar brands). I had never tried to dye wools before at all, but I was well aware that things could go wrong and that my garments might very well end up in the trash. I figured it was worth a shot though, since I wasn’t wearing these garments much anyway.
My victims were as follows:
1. A dark red 60% tencel/40% wool skirt from Zara. The care label said it could be washed at 30 degrees Celcius, so that is how I dyed it. I used black dye, and when the wash cycle was over the skirt has turned a beautiful shade of burgundy. Alas, it had also shrunk at least four sizes and had to go in the trash. I didn’t remember to photograph it, but trust me, this was not a success.
2. The same skirt from Zara, but in beige. Since dying these in the washing machine turned out to be such a fiasco I went for a soak and hand wash this time around. I put the skirt and the dark navy dye that I had bought in a bucket of warm water and let it soak for two whole days. Here is what it looked like before (in an old photo from 2010):
And here is how it turned out!
As you can see the dye took a little unevenly in some places, but as the skirt now has the color of denim I think it looks more like faded denim than a bad dye job, if that makes sense. I have worn it a few times already, which is probably the same amount of times that I wore it in 2012 put together.
Now comes the really tricky bit…
3. A gray cashmere sweater from Zadig & Voltaire. I bought it on Holiday in Paris in 2010 and have adored it from the moment I first put it on, but I accidentally got an oil stain on it a few months ago that just wouldn’t budge. As it was very visible I just couldn’t bring myself to wear it in its current state, so I decided to try to dye this one as well. I did the soak and hand wash one more time, but with a gorgeous petrol blue color this time around.
Here it is before (also from an old photo):
And here is the final result:
As you can probably imagine, this is not exactly what I had in mind. It looks tie-dyed! However, I think I will be able to make it work somehow. The color is still pretty, and hey, if Isabel Marant can do tie-dye then I can do tie-dye as well. No biggie, and at least it doesn’t look stained anymore. “Tie-dyed hippie” beats “dirty” any day.
(Unless of course you’re a dirty hippie. Then I can’t help you)
I hope this was interesting to some of you, and that it might be helpful to a googler or three. I know I couldn’t find a single post like this when I was researching this little experiment, so why not just make the post myself?