Thursday, July 26, 2018

thinking about dyeing

in which our plucky heroine mulls over various possiblities...

The rayon fabric I am currently struggling working with is a brightly multi-colored high-contrast print. (I suspect I acquired it in a fabric swap, since it isn't a typical colorway I would choose, though the hand of the fabric is lovely, and will make up into a Very Comfortable Dress.) As is often the case with printed fabrics, the individual colors are notated on the selvedge, in little numbered dots. In this case, there are a total of FOURTEEN different colors!

The biggest challenge when overdyeing fabric that is colored or patterned is to figure out, at least theoretically, what color you will end up with in relation to what color or colors you start out with and what color dyestuff you use. At the very least, it requires great imaginative effort, for more accuracy, it requires sample dyeing. Rather than start by preparing several dyebaths, I decided to make a chart, and carefully think about how colors usually interact.

overdye interactions
1 black no changeno change
2 dk grey darker bluedarker brown
3 yellow-greendark turquoise bronze
4 navy
no change slightly warmer
5 lt greydarker dull blue darker dull brown
6 dull blue-green darker bluegreen bronze brown
7 bright med blue darker blue cooler brown
8 periwinkle darker cool blue cooler brown
9 ice green
slightly green blue slightly bronze
10 hot pink purple terracotta
11 warm cream slightly warm blue slightly warmer brown
12 lt grey slightly darker dull blue slightly darker dull brown
13 lt blue no change slightly cooler brown
14 pastel teal slightly green blue slightly cooler brown

As I had suspected, the most challenging color in this print is the hot pink, which shows up often enough that whatever color it turns will be a noticeable accent color. I don't really like purple or terracotta very much. It is slightly more difficult to predict colors with brown, since brown is not a primary, or even a secondary color, but a mixture of red, yellow, and blue, often toned with either white or black as well.

I shall continue to mull over the possibilities. I found this exercise to be informative, as though my initial thought was to overdye in brown, but looking at the probable outcome, I am more inclined to go with the blue, as more of the shifted colors are ones that I am comfortable wearing, and are already in my wardrobe. Perhaps it is time for me to get over my irrational dislike of purple? In the interim, I shall get the pieces prepared to sew, and stitch together the new popover dress, a good task for another terribly hot day. If I stitch up the seams and topstitching in black, the thread color will not be a factor in the overdye process later on.


  1. If you were to overdye with greenish blue, I think the pink would turn out to be a dull purple, maybe more to your liking. I didn't try to figure out what effect it would have on the other colors. Your chart should be very useful.

    1. Ooooh! Thank you for the suggestion, I'd not thought of that... how with a sort of dark turquoise/teal color dye, the yellow in it will tone down the purple. And if it shifts some of the other colors in the printed fabric towards turquoise that is not a problem, since that is rather my new favorite accent color anyways

  2. Is there anyway to test each dye on a small scrap of cloth? Maybe by painting on a very diluted bit of dye, as opposed to a due bath?