Where Wedding Dresses go to Dye

Wow! Back from the bachanal that was BHOF 2015 and what a fantastic time was had by all. I'm tackling my sleep depravation and general state of bleary-eyedom with a post for you all.

I mentioned a few months back how I'd become obsessed with experimenting with fabric dye ever since I met with success in my feather dying experiment, and I've finally tackled what I held as my Everest of fabric dying. A wedding dress. Since I've been married, well, let's just call it more than once (clears throat), I have more than one to play with.

I have a traditional Tahitian wedding to attend in French Polynesia next month (I know, poor me) and the request is for guests to wear colours of the lagoons that surround the amazing atolls and islands of this part of the world.


This photo is from Bora Bora where I was fortunate enough to marry Mr. Clicquot and as you can see, the shade of blue of the lagoon is not really a colour that one can easily acquire in an article of clothing. So I thought it fitting I take a WHITE dress I wore at my own wedding and see if I could even vaguely colour match it to this spectacular lagoon blue of the South Pacific. So...

Here is the original dress.


A flowy white Grecian number. Very beachy. I had absolutely no clue as to what would happen to this gown when I were to attempt to dye it. Would it dissolve into a mess of tragedy? Only one way to find out.

I've heard that polyester chiffon is notoriously difficult to dye, so I went about this task fully prepared to sacrifice the dress to the cause of experimentation. While Bahama blue in Dyon's fabric dye appeared to be the shade I wanted, I also know that Polyester requires something different.


Namely, it needs a multi-purpose dye because polyester is essentially, a form of plastic and it simply will not absorb a regular fabric dye. I've heard that idye poly is the absolutely best dye for this purpose, but sadly, I was unable to find it in Vancouver and as I wanted to also bring this dress to BHOF, I didn't have time to order it online. So Dylon is what I had access to and gave it a whirl. Given how much volume and weight of fabric there is in my gown, I used three whole packets of dye.



While this dress is flowy looking, it is still a LOT of fabric. The skirt has miles of chiffon and the biggest challenge right off the bat was to find a heat-proof container that was big enough to fit the gown. A very large canning pot was the bet I could do, and I prayed it gave me enough room to freely move the dress around in the dye bath. Free movement is crucial to ensure your item absorbs the dye evenly and doesn't result in a streaky mess. This is also why it's important to dampen the item before putting it in the dye. This also helps avoid streaking.

So I gently stirred this dress over low heat on the stove feeling like some wizard over a cauldron, and waited... leaving it in this bath for as long as my patience would endure. Maybe a 1/2 hour I would guess.

Then I had to devise some way to rinse this sopping wet gown. A sink wasn't going to cut it. Then I had this crazy idea.


I put down a clean tarp in my back yard, and took a garden hose to it! Worked like a charm. This photo also shows how differently the various components of the dress took the dye. The elastic along the inside of the cups shows how a natural fabric takes

the dye. This took a LOT of rinsing. a solid 30 minutes to make sure it was completely clear.


Looks pretty good right? Well, the only issue I had is something I hope to explain so you avoid the same thing. If you were to look closely at the boob area the cups are actually quite streaky, and I figured out why. The bust area is lined with as foam bra cup between the layers of lining. This is literally a sponge, so of COURSE these bra cups held a lot of the liquid dye, so even after I rinsed for a half hour and everything looked perfect and I hung it to dry.


So far so good. But when I came back an hour later, the boob area was all splotchy because the inner foam cups continued to leak out dye. The answer? I unstitched the lining, removed the bra cups, and dunked it back in the dye, let it soak another 1/2 hour and rinsed for another 1/2 hour.

Which gave me this:


A beautiful lagoon blue gown for the price of three packets of dye. But what's MOST interesting to me is the stones! Look! THose larger stones are actually just acrylic and I had no idea they would take the dye, which I LOVE! A happy accident is always the best kind of success. I'm now imagining custom-dying stones to match outfits! I tell you, I've gone dye crazy.

As soon as the BHOF red carpet pics are available I will update with a pic of me wearing this gown. I'm sooooo pleased!



#burlesquecostume #costumetechniques #dye #costuming #easycostumetricks #costumetips

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