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Dyeing a dress

Yesterday I got the chance to work on a costume for a photoshoot I had in mind. I've been wanting to do a Mrs. Hawking and Mary series, with crearespero and nennivian and I needed to work out their costumes. I found a big poofy wedding dress at the thrift store that had some of the features I had in mind to look like a Victorian ball gown. Unfortunately white wouldn't work, so I decided that this was the time to try dyeing, something I've always wanted to do.

I forgot to take a picture of the dress before, but Charlotte was kind enough to talk me through the dyeing process and snap some pictures throughout. She dyed the dress she wore for her Halloween costume, so she suggested doing it in a big plastic tub and swirling it around with the handle of a broom like she did. It has to be agitated for thirty to forty-five minutes to take the color. Unfortunately the dress was so heavy when wet the only way to turn it was with my hands.


I was a bit concerned, as the dye was supposed to work better on natural fiber fabric and this dress was clearly mostly synthetic. Originally I tried to use gloves, but it took a lot of effort to keep that mass moving, so I was splashing and getting in there so deep the gloves kept filling up with dye. Here is me turning my hands upside down to let it drain out before I just gave up on wearing them all together.


Barehanded, however, meant that I was getting dyed as well. Here are my blue alien hands after just a few minutes of the process.


After about forty minutes of this-- quite a bit of work! --the dress went for a spin in the washer. I had a feeling it was meant to be dry clean only, so Charlotte suggested just laying it out on the deck and letting the sun dry it. Here we had our first look at how the dye came out. The various fabrics used in the dress's construction each took the dye to a different degree. The polyester underlayer was the lightest, as it was the least receptive material, with the tulle overskirt becoming a medium blue and the lace on the bodice and the inset in the skirt turning out very dark. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but very pretty nonetheless.


The only downside is that with the color distinction, the flaws in the dress are much more visible than they were when everything was white. The tears in the bodice lace, for example. That's okay. I think this will be Mary's ballgown in the photoshoot, worn by Charlotte, as I always imagined it would be grand and blue.


As Charlotte pointed out, it has kind of a Disney princess, fairytale aesthetic, doesn't it? I was lucky to have her help, especially when she reminded me that one does not clean up dye spots with undiluted bleach. I would probably have keeled over wondering why I was hacking up a lung in there if she hadn't rescued me from my dumb. And then I wouldn't get to enjoy my new fancy blue dress.


Sorry about the blue dress in the blue room. ;-)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 26th, 2013 09:35 am (UTC)
Oooh, that's very nice! I love the muted glamour it has due to the differing levels of saturation.
Mar. 26th, 2013 12:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I liked that about it too. :-)
Mar. 27th, 2013 04:26 am (UTC)
Pretty! I actually love the different shades. This makes me almost brave enough to finally dye my wedding dress.
Mar. 27th, 2013 12:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Oooh, what color do you want to make your wedding dress? As I recall, it's lace, correct? As I have discovered, lace takes on a really saturated hue, especially if there's a less-dye-receptive fabric forming the underlayer. Could be gorgeous!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

Latest Month

April 2017


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