Monday, October 21, 2019

Refreshing Old Makes: Dying My Favorite Skirt

Today's post is another simple one with a big result. My Brown Melissa Skirt is, to this day, still one of my favorite things I've ever sewn. I posted this back in November of 2015 (!) and I wore this skirt at least once a week (usually a few times a week, to be honest) for years. Years! But over time, the color in the skirt faded pretty badly - also I gained weight and wasn't able to wear this for about a year - plus one day when I did try to wear it, I noticed a few oil spots that I spent quite a bit of time trying to remove to no avail. I folded this up in my sewing stuff and would occasionally try removing the stains only to be disappointed each time. Last month I started going through some of my old makes I hadn't been able to fit into due to my weight gain - I've lost weight recently and wanted to see what beloved pieces were now wearable again - and this skirt popped into my head. When I discovered it fit great, I knew it was time to finally buy some hard core dye and try to get this back into rotation again.
This skirt is made of a mystery thrift store fabric that I have never been able to successfully identify. I knew it had some polyester in it, which meant that regular Rit dye wouldn't work. I had to buy Rit Dye More, which is designed for synthetic fabrics. I will confess I was afraid that I would spill this dye in my kitchen and irreparably stain something, which also made my put off this project. But I really wanted to wear this on my trip to Epcot in September, so I bit the bullet and risked it. 
Unlike regular Rit dye, Rit Dye More is a bit more particular with how to get the best results. You have to do this in a pot on the stove to keep the temperature consistently high. You're supposed to mix the dye then sustain just before boiling in the water for the entire duration and you're supposed to keep your piece in the dye for at least 30 minutes, stirring constantly. 
Not having any throw away utensils on hand, I used a large wooden paint stick to stir my skirt. Waiting for that huge pot to almost boil took quite a while (I used my canning pot because it's the biggest I have and it doesn't get any food put in it so I wouldn't worry about ingesting chemicals from the dye later on), but then the standing at the pot and stirring for 30 minutes felt a bit like an eternity. The whole process took about an hour and a half with all that heat up time and everything. Then it tells you to rinse in cool water until the water runs clean, and for good measure I threw it in the washing machine with a color catcher and a mild detergent just to make sure I wouldn't end up with dye transfer later.
After all was finished and dried, this was my skirt :) It's not quite as dark as when I first made it, but I love this nice medium brown I achieved. It's certainly much deeper than the faded mess I started with. Also if I decide I want it darker one day, I could just do the whole process again and maybe keep it in longer. We'll see if the sewing lasts long enough for me to contemplate that, lol.
And happily, my oil stain is almost completely masked by the darker color. I can see it because I knew exactly where it was, but no one else notices a thing while I'm wearing it. Success! Also a happy byproduct of the dye is that it dyed my buttons as well. The buttons are a carved resin, and a few of them had worn down through the brown colored outside into the gray centers with time and probably slapping the insides of my dryer. Now the buttons are evenly brown again, even on the areas that were gray. Yay!
I know this is a terrible picture, but this is how it looks on :) I wore this to Disney all day and had no dye rubbed on my undies, which was another worry of mine. I'm happy to report that dying this was much easier, if a little more time consuming, than I originally thought and I would have no qualms dying a synthetic fabric again in the future should the need arise. Now I have my favorite skirt back and wearable. Yay for refreshing old makes!

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