Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Everyday Skirt Part 1: Dyeing Elastic


I love a simple "quick sew" garment. Something I can whip up after the kids are asleep and easily wear the next day. I've seen several ready made versions of this skirt and thought how easy would that be... Just let the elastic show! Janelle and I talked about it and she did some searching around for colored elastic suppliers... (you could use stark white if your fabric worked well with it but we wanted something tailor-made). After turning up empty she mentioned to me that we could dye our elastic. How brilliant she is!! As with many of her ideas I jumped at the chance to try it (after asking her permission of course).

First let me say that I AM NOT AN EXPERT! I am certain there is a science to dyeing but I am not a scientist. Lol. I just had fun and tried a few different things. Ultimately what I learned is that dyeing elastic is very unpredictable, even more so then fabric. It is very hard to determine the exact color you will get and it is best to just have fun and embrace the element of surprise.
If you like to match your colors I would suggest dyeing your waistband before purchasing your skirt fabric. I personally like a bit of mismatchy color... close but not quite the same. Many times others don't notice.. for instance almost all shades of grey work together and pinks look cute when they are slightly off. Also you could pair a print with a completely different colored waistband for a bolder and playful statement.. for example: a grey and white geometric print with a bold yellow waistband.

Here is how I dyed my waistbands:
I start with a generous cut of 2" wide elastic (1" wide for a child's version), at least  3" longer then my waist measurement. I had one piece shrink more then 1 1/2" after dyeing and drying!
I used "Rit" dye all purpose concentrate, in the powder form. I followed the stovetop method for smaller dye batches. I DIDN'T add salt to the powdered dye as it already contains some.
It is a good idea to wear an apron (not your favorite!) have a rag close and stir carefully. Use stainless steel pans and utensils such as a large spoon or tongs. You may also like to wear gloves, I don't but I also don't touch my items until I've rinsed them.


For 3qts. of water (.75 gallon) I used about half the dye packet, this is more than the directions call for because the elastic does not absorb the dye as well as cotton does.
I heat my dye batch to a low simmer. Before submerging my elastic I prep it by soaking it in hot water and stretching it quite a bit, I figure this may help separate the fibers and allow the dye to fully penetrate the elastic.  The first waistband I dyed had a few spots where the dye missed completely, this may or may not have been because I didn't stretch it but I since have and have not had as many flaws I've also agitated the dye bath more to help with even dyeing. After prepping I check that the powder is fully dissolved and then I gently place my elastic into the pan. For whatever reason... maybe because it's fun or because I don't want to waist my dye...I often search the house for other things to toss in.. a stained tank or onesies, plain white lace.. etc.. I watch and stir constantly, pulling up my items to check the color. I pull them out as soon as I have a tint I like. This is sometimes right away, and other times I allow my elastic to soak awhile, the longer it soaks the darker and more saturated the color will be. It also depends on the material the elastic is made form, elastics containing cotton take to dye more easily.


After pulling them form the dye, I place my items in a bowl and take them to the sink to rinse in warm water. RINSE COMPLETELY. Rinse until water runs clear. You don't want any leftover dye to run into your skirt fabric when washed. Finally after rinsing, I toss my dyed items in the dryer on low heat (if you have more patience than me you can hang them to dry).

Here are the colors I've tried thus far:

All three of these were in the same dye batch. The bottom lace was only in for 30 seconds or less. The top 2 were in for the exact same amount of time.. that's the difference the fiber contents makes. The bottom lace is 100% cotton.

In this photo the elastic and box color seam to match but in real life the elastic is a bit peachier.. it worked well with the fabric, not a perfect match but I prefer that.


These pinks were all in the same dye for different lengths of time.

Finally I tried one bottle of liquid dye and added salt to the bath. I wasn't happy with the result and will probably try again with the powder version. This was the one instance when the color of the elastic didn't work at all with the fabric I had planned on using. I do however like the color of the cotton tank I threw in ;)



2 comments:

Melissa @ Hilltop Hausfrau said...

Uber-great post...I've always wondered whether it was worth
(r)it to dye bands...thanks for doing the work and comparison for us!

Great skirt to...

Kunklebaby said...

Skirt is super cute! Good idea too.