First, the good news: I didn't destroy any pots or make a huge mess.
Now the bad news: My results were poor.
I followed directions I'd found online: they were very involved.
I thought my water was the right temperature and that I had the right
amounts of salt and soda ash. I dissolved the dye as instructed. But
evidently something wasn't right.
First, I prewashed my shirts:
I dissolved about two cups of salt into two quarts of water (that's a lot of salt, btw).
I heated two gallons of water.
I dissolved four tablespoons of soda ash into a cup of warm water:
I mixed my dyes, a combination of turquoise and fuchsia:
I made a dye vat in the largest pail I had and soaked the shirts in the dye vat for roughly six minutes (as per instructions). I stirred occasionally and kept the fabric under the dye. I then added the soda ash and soaked the shirts for roughly 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I removed the shirts from the dye vat, rinsed them a few times, and then machine laundered them with mild detergent and let them drip dry.
The plaid shirt held the dye better than the tan one did, but there are splotches/under-dyed areas on both.
The tan shirt didn't take the dye well at all. I did manage to remove the yellow undertones but the result is a rather blotchy/streaky mess. As expected, the poly topstitching thread didn't dye at all.
The plaid shirt is kind of cool but still flawed.
I think I could have benefited from a larger pail and much more stirring, but otherwise I'm at a loss. Even the fabric swatch I threw in the mix came out blotchy. Could it be the fabric itself (100% cotton, I believe)?
Is it worth trying this again with the same shirts or should I just
chalk it up to experience and wear them proudly as exemplars of wabi-sabi?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!