Sew Colette – Fabulous (dyed) fabric

While sorting out the fit on my Peony, I’ve also been learning a fair bit about dyeing fabric.

Do you ever buy fabric on a whim only later to decide it’s not really the right colour for you? Well, when I bought this lilac number, while lovely, I forgot pastels don’t tend to be a wardrobe favourite of mine. Not to worry, I thought, easily solved with a packet of fabric dye, right?

The only thing I’ve ever dyed was my Jiu-Jitsu belt when I got my light blue belt. As soon as you grade to light blue, you dye your white belt. It means there are some really interesting and varied colours on the mat, that’s for sure. So, I bought some Dylon dye in “burlesque red” and got to work.

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Lesson learnt when it comes to dyeing fabric : make sure you have enough dye for your desired effect. A packet of 50g Dylon hand dye wasn’t enough to get the deep purple/red colour I was after. I imagine it would have been just fine for the dip-dye effect I was originally considering.

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After going back to the drawing board, I gave the machine-dye in the same colour a go, albeit with some trepidation as I was pretty worried it would end up staining my washing machine. You can imagine the nerves as I snapped the above photo, thinking I might have a purple washing machine as well as aubergine-coloured fabric.

Fortunately, I can say for certain the dye didn’t stain the washing machine (phew) and the colour came out a treat!

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The first image is with flash and the second without. I’m pretty happy with the result – the colour is much closer to the second than the first. I think it works great as an autumnal colour and goes really well with the handmade earrings pictured, which I bought from Camden this weekend.

I’m looking forward to starting to put this project together now. Working with the muslin fabric was very frustrating as it was so thin, but hopefully this sturdier cotton will work out much better.

If, like me, you’ve been having some fitting issues, check out Sew Colette organiser Sarah’s blog over at Rhinestones and Telephones, where she’s listed some great tutorials to help make sewing your Peonies that much easier. This post in particular works well if you’ve been having some issues with fitting the bodice.

How are your Peonies coming along?

Project Planning: Meringue Skirt

Sometimes, I’m a bit crap at sewing. No, this isn’t false modesty – this is actually true.

My sewing performance oscillates. Sometimes it’ll reach the dizzying heights of a perfectly executed invisible zipper, but the next week it could drop to the deepest depths of a poorly executed blouse courtesy of the old enemy… buttonholes.

A dress I managed to screw up, sad times.

Memories of failed projects still haunt me to this day – like the above dress I tried to make when I was still living in Germany. The fabric was amazing, but sadly, the dress wasn’t meant to be.

Hardly the sustainable sort of sewing we’re after, is it?

As you all know, 2012’s sewing mantra is quality, not quanitity. Bad habits from my fast fashion days run rampant when I sew.

It happens to the best of us – we start cutting corners because we’re so impatient for the final product. I’ve even distracted myself by thinking about whatever project I’ve got lined up next and before I know it, the one I’ve barely begun working on is old news.

If the pledge is about steering away from this mentality towards a more sustainable one, then this speedy, sloppy sewing just doesn’t contribute anything constructive at all. At the end of the day, you’ll end up with a poorly made garment you may as well have spent a fiver on, because it’ll fall apart in no time.

So let’s slow it down right from the beginning – take a step back and start planning. As a rule, I’ve never done this.

Mood-boards just haven’t been my thing – I tend to keep a lot of ideas in my head,  only to have them change when I spot some pretty quilting cotton. The Colette Sewing Handbook suggests you draw yourself a croquis.

I know what you’re thinking – sounds like something French and to do with potatoes, but it’s actually a sketch of clothing on a figure. It’s a good way to visualise what your garment will end up looking like.

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Alternatively, you can go for the moodboard-style idea as I’ve done above – I actually used Polyvore for this one, linking images of fabric I’d seen online. This is a pretty simple project, so I didn’t need to add much, but for something like the Macaron, which features two different fabrics, it could be useful to have all your planned fabric and notions in one place.

As for the project? I’m thinking a royal green colour – I’ve been a bit of a fan of jewel tones for a while. The handbook recommends a medium weight fabric like poplin and Raystitch has some great jewel tones on offer in plain cotton of a medium weight.

Need inspiration for your Meringue skirt? The Coletterie has plenty, but here are a couple of others I found (curiously, all black and white versions!):

  • I’ve already got a houndstooth skirt, but I was so tempted to make another after seeing this beauty from Lauren, who blogs at Lladybird. She’s used the Coletterie’s tutorial to add a waistband – I might just do the same.
  • Sharon’s added some piping to the hem of her Meringue, going for a monochrome look with some pinstripe fabric. Lovely. She’s even included a nice little walk-through of how she did it.
  • The newspaper fan in me could hardly ignore A View Into my World‘s print-style Meringue! It was actually a gift for a friend using the same fabric as she made for her equally excellent rendition of Sewaholic‘s Minoru jacket.

Any planning tips for this lazy seamstress? I’d love to hear them!