>Is dying silk something really scary and complicated
>and only for the experts?
Oh my, no it's not! For almost four years I've been involved with painting/dying silk at my college's costume shop, and it's actually a lot of fun.
Silk takes dye quite nicely, and will respond to many forms of dye that work on protein fibers. I haven't had much time to research period dyes, but I do know that saffron yields a gorgeous yellow-gold color. (Ouch! But so expensive!) Also, tea will give an antique feel/color to most fabrics. If you don't mind, I'll just tell you about the manufactured dyes that I have experience with. But feel free to experiment!
For vat dying techniques, I know that Jaquard Acid Dyes and Procion Liquid H dyes give very nice colors. (Great on wool and nylon as well.) They are also less expensive than their French counterparts. For most people, I would suggest the acid dyes. Procion requires some nasty chemicals and steam setting. The acid dyes are not harmful, only require hot water and vinegar and do not need any special color-setting treatments.
Places you can get Procion and Jaquard Acid Dyes and info:
Most manufactured dyes come in concentrated form. Prepare the dye according to the manufacturer's instructions. The color of the dye can be changed by mixing in different colors. It can be lightened by adding more dilutent. When vat dying, the amount of time you let the fabric soak in the dye will also affect the final color. With large amounts of fabric, you will want to stir to make sure there will be an even dye job.
Let the fabric dry/drip-dry (this can be messy, so make sure you have some towels underneath to soak up the extra dye. And make sure to wear old clothes that you don't mind getting stained.) If the dye needs to be set (heat / steam / chemicals / whatever) follow the instructions for the particular brand.
Wash the fabric in cold water with some Synthrapol untill all the excess dye is washed out of the fabric. (Special ultra-concentrated detergent for dye-jobs, wonderful stuff -- I swear by it.) I don't care if the instructions say that it will be immediately safe to wash with other garments. Better safe than a load of pink laundry! (Or blue, or yellow, or green...)
ALLWAYS MAKE A TEST SWATCH FIRST!!!
This way you will know what you're getting ahead of time, and can alter the mix untill you get the color you want. And to determine the amount of time the dye will need to soak. Don't forget to colorset the swatch as well. Many dyes will brighten/lighten during the process depending on the type.
There are two options when vat dying. You can either dye the fabric first and sew the garment second, or sew the garment first and dye it second. A small note on the second method.... Cotton thread does not dye the same as silk. Sometimes it will not dye at all if it has been treated during the manufacturing process (and it is almost impossible to tell when you buy it.) Therefore, if any of the stiching is going to be in any way visible on the right side of the garment, make sure to use silk thread. At work we learned this the hard way, and had ugly white-ish stiching lines on otherwise gorgeous purple & blue dance costumes.
Places to get silk online:
Whew! That took longer than I thought it would.
(goes back into hiding)
@-'-,-'-- Lady Rose nic Galen --'-,-'-@
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Principality of Northshield
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