One of the costumers I’ve recently discovered is MacBeemer. She’s made the best reproduction of the Idris dress I’ve seen to date. Click her name above to be taken to her pictures and a step-by-step of how she did it. I’m getting so much inspiration and help from this! One thing she doesn’t discuss in detail though, is how she dyed the bodice fabric. Since I’m virtually certain she got some of the same Australian fabric I did, I messaged her with questions, and she was kind enough to answer. Here’s her tips for dyeing this fabric:
“Okay, I know people are dye snobs and I’m going to get pooh-poohed for this, but I use RIT dye. I love RIT. I’ll use Jacquard for silk if I’m feeling hoity-toity, but for the most part, RIT serves me just fine. I used a combo of evening blue and pearl gray with some tan/taupe to dull it down a bit. Be careful with taupe, because it’ll take the dye bath green in a hurry if you use too much.
It was still SUPER pale after two or three immersions, so that’s when I decided to paint it to even out the swirl colors. If we do have the same fabric, it’ll go REALLY dark when it’s wet, and the light/dark difference in the weave will look even more pronounced, so don’t panic. Wet the fabric down before you paint it to assure an even tone, then just use some watered down fabric paint. I think I used Jacquard’s “Neopaque” paint line for my wash, and I mixed blue, white, black and two different browns until I came up with a color I liked.
I did cut a lot of swatches out to play around with before doing the big piece of fabric, and would dye a piece, dry it with the hairdryer, and then decide what I needed to do to get a better result. Lather, rinse, repeat!”
After steamcon, I finally have time to devote time to this, so I started my own dye tests, basing them around the colors she recommended. Eighteen swatch tests later, close up study of every Idris photograph I have, and some experimentation with fabric paint, here’s what I’m going with: test swatch #5.
First off, here’s the fabric as-is, before dyeing:
I used 1/2 RIT Tan and 1/2 RIT Pearl Grey in a small tub of hot water. Just out of the dye and still wet, it looks like this:
This obviously too dark, but as MacBeemer warns, when dye it is much lighter. I ironed one part of the fabric and draped it across the wet so you can see the contrast. The true color is the darker shade to the left of the photo – light was reflecting off the right side and making it seem lighter than it is!
MacBeemer went for a blue color in her dyeing, but after studying the pictures, I decided to go for the brownish-tan look. Next, I will stain the lighter swirls a very pale blue with diluted fabric paint – this also alters the darker swirls to more of a blue. Finally, I will paint more brown onto the edges/seams of the bodice as texture (as MacBeemer did). Fingers crossed that it works in the real fabric as well as it did in the swatches!
Tomorrow, I’m working on the bodice muslin. Once I have that finalized, I’ll cut out the real fabric pieces, sew them together and then start painting!
I also ordered my lace from ThunderLily. They are an online fabric store I just discovered, but they have quick service and FREE swatches! This lace is actually peach in color, but I experimented with my swatch and discovered if I dye it grey and then antique it a bit with brown paint, it looks quite well. Better than any of my other possibles!
So pretty much I have all the fabric I need to do this outfit now. I just need a good wig…