April 20, 2010

Giving Your Fabric a Bleached Makeover

When I began the search for the fabric for my Perfect Spring Dress, I received numerous comments and emails about how I should keep in true form of the dress by finding a border print fabric. I've looked. They are hard to come by.  I had an idea dawn on me after the fabric had been voted on and I decided to give it a try. I did try this on the original winning fabric with no result, because it was made of a colorfast polyester/cotton blend. And then unfortunately I ruined that version of the dress anyway. I had read about fading fabric with bleach over at Wisecraft awhile back and I thought I could, just possibly, achieve a faux border print look with a little help from a few cups of clorox and some water. This was an interesting experiment to say the least, but one that surprisingly worked, maybe not to achieve a border print but a different looking fabric. The method was easy enough. I wanted the bodice to be the most faded here. To do this, I cut the pattern pieces first and then bleached them. The same was done for the skirt except, I bleached the skirt in sections starting with the top section. I dipped the skirt into the bleach mix starting with the top and allowed it to sit for 1 minute before moving the skirt down 6 inches and then repeating this process until I got to the bottom. Then I soaked the pattern pieces in water and apple cider vinegar (a neutralizer) to stop the fading. I air-dried the pattern pieces before sewing them and well, there you have it. I'm fairly happy with the result, however I think I could have bleached a little bit longer just for a little more fading. And the tie is bleached too. What was once a rust orange is now more of a poppy red. What do you think? Have you tried this before? Have you ever thought about it?

How did I come up with what increments and how long to soak you may ask? I tested a scrap of fabric first to see how long it would take to get the desired effect. Only 5 minutes. I divided 5 by the inches of my skirt which was 29. Rounding off that number gave me 6. Yeah. I'm a mathematician and totally didn't know it. Ha ha ha.
Same printed fabric for each dress

The way weird thing is that doing this to the fabric weakened the weave to a point where it's more like an apparel fabric than a quilting weight cotton. You have to be pretty careful, I mean this does weaken the fibers and weave of any fabric. In that one post on quilty cottons Hillary pointed out that quilty cottons don't wrinkle quite right for apparel. I agree. But I found that this bleaching thing really strips the fibers of the dye (that I think adds to that weird wrinkling) and weakens the fiber to a point where its more pliable as a garment fabric rather than quilting. You should try it and see what you think. Also, I think the faded coloring gives it a more vintage feel and surprisingly, a totally different look than the original fabric. What do you think?

Here's a link to an article I read on Threads about this type of thing and then there's Marta's book which is about how to do this sort of thing in depth.
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