Monday, September 5, 2016

Costuming updates

So WAY back in January, I posted about my plan for my next costume make for myself: the Soulless Manga Floating Dress.

At the time my personal financial situation was just starting to stabilize and I thought it wouldn't be much of a problem to find the money for the couple kinds of fabric I needed to make that outfit. And then personal disaster struck and suddenly things like keeping my utilities on and food in the house became pressing concerns.  Obviously, making a dress was pretty much last on my list of priorities.

But I did come up with an alternative source of fabric for this outfit.  I have a big roll of pale pink silk that I got super cheap in an estate sale.  Since I have no desire to make anything in pale pink, and no customer has appear requesting a giant pink princess dress, I decided I would try to dye this fabric to a dark teal to make the bodice and hat for this costume.

So here's what the fabric looked like to start with.   I was fairly sure this was silk dupioni based on the crisp hand, shine, etc.  I did a burn test and it was ashy.  So I went looking for dye for silk and learned that RIT dye is generally recommended.  Not all dyes will work on silk, but RIT does, apparently.  So I bought some teal RIT powder dye and dyed up several yards at once in my washing machine.  I have a front-loading washer, which isn't ideal for dyeing, but I read a couple articles on how to make it work.  I've tried dyeing large amounts of fabric on the stove before with really poor results, so I thought this would be best.

When I moved the fabric from the washer to the dryer I was pleased with how dark it was, but it appeared more green than I really wanted.  After it dried, it looked MUCH lighter and this was the result. Not the most even dye job, and both too light and more green than I really wanted.

Looking closely at the fabric I noticed it looked like some of the fibers had not taken the dye, so I decided maybe the fabric I had wasn't 100% silk after all, maybe it was a silk/poly blend.  I've seen 80/20 and 70/30 blends that were difficult to distinguish from pure silk, after all.  I did another burn test and still wasn't sure about the results.  So I looked into dyes that work on polyester.  I've dyed poly before, so I knew it required high heat.  The problem is that the color options for poly dyes if really limited.  There are basically two poly home dyes: iDye Poly and RIT DyeMore.  Neither has a teal color.  It's blue or green.  So I decided to try dyeing this same batch of fiber with blue poly dye.  I was hoping that just the poly threads would take the blue and it would combine with the greener shade and give me something like what I was after.

And, although dyeing 5 yards of fabric in a stock pot turned out to be easier than the last time I tried, the results were not what I was hoping.  The fabric took the dye beautifully.   And I wound up with some lovely blue fabric.  Not at all teal.  So...I have really no idea what this means for my fiber content.  Was it not at all silk?  Did the silk take the poly dye even though the dye packet indicated it wouldn't?  Was it the heat that helped it take the dye or actually the different dye formulation.  Would my original dye have worked better on the stove rather than in the front-loading washer?  Yeah, I'm still pondering these mysteries and what to do about them.  You may also notice that the fabric has lost it's shine.  That's not strange for silk, which loses it's shine in temps over 185 degrees F.

 My plan from here is to test a small piece of fabric with some regular RIT dye I have on the stove to see if it takes better than it did in the washer.  If not, then I'll probably try mixing blue and green poly dye to try to achieve the appropriate color.

Meanwhile I've had some other costume projects pop up.  There's a Harry Potter Yule Ball being held in December in Houston and appropriate costumes are required.  So I've started working on a Steampunk Hogwarts robe costume.  It's going to be put together out of all fabric I already own and pieces that I'll be able to use for multiple events/looks.  I hope it'll all work together.

The first piece I'm working on is a black taffeta skirt from the Truly Victorian 261 Pattern.  I'm doing the view with the bustle pouf at the back.  This is a truly versatile pattern I've made before, without the pouf.

The skirt is mostly assembled, but I decided I wanted to add a zipper closure to avoid showing off my underwear since I plan to wear the skirt alone.  And I don't care whether or not a zipper is period accurate.  So until I can get to a store and buy a zipper, I'm waiting to finish the waistband and do the final bustling and hemming.

For the top I'm planning on making the jacket from this Simplicity Pattern (long-sleeved version.)  I'm still slightly debating but I'm leaning towards using a wool suiting with subtle pinstripe.  It's not Harry Potter traditional, but something about that fabric wants to be that jacket and it seems scholarly to me so I hope it works with a taffeta skirt.  I'll probably add a hooded short cape with Slytherin colors and accessorize as much as possible.

And I've just learned about a New Year's Eve Labyrinth Ball in Austin.  Labyrinth is my all-time favorite movie so naturally I've started daydreaming about an outfit for that.  I don't actually know if I'll be able to attend, and it's not super likely I will since my husband works in the restaurant industry now.  BUT I just may have an outfit already planned and fabric picked out for that.  And I'll probably try to make that whether or not I actually go to this event.

So, that's what's up in my costuming life.  Too many ideas, not enough time and money, but what else is new.  And of course I have at least one commission and things to make to sell at an event or two this fall. I'm currently working on a prototype for a new line of corsets I want to sell.  I wish I could sew all the hours of the day, but my back is currently reminding me that that's not an option, ow.

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