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The summer holiday is about to end inevitably! Ugh! On the other hand, once this post gets published I will have just ended my month long holiday – so there’s still a chance I will be dying to prepare some new tutorials – while, honestly speaking, I’ve got loads of new ideas in my head. Hold on! Let’s stick to today’s tutorial. Today we’re going to make a dress which I actually prepared at the beginning of July, but somehow it ended up in the August post.

[change of plans – to keep the order of posts on kobieta.gazeta.pl I had to change the date of this post. I’m right in the middle of my holiday writing meticulously this post on my smartphone, faraway from the civilisation, deep in the mountains; it’s surprising how much work you can get done working on your smartphone! This Friday I’ll publish Citywear Dress tutorial, so far, however, let’s concentrate on today’s subject – let’s get dying. The end of the smartphone comment]

Well, at the end of June, one of my students Magda, who joined the intense course, brought up the subject of ice-cube dyeing. What the hell is that?! What an exotic sounding technique! I immediately headed for the Fabric Outlet ( a shop owned by my friends)  to get a white knitted fabric, I froze hectolitres of water and prepared heart-shaped icecubes (I know, it’s embarrassing – I’ve just admitted to having back at home heart-shaped icecube tray – what can I say?)  At IKEA  they had only this shape for the the St. Valentine’s Day. What’s more, these are easier to remove off the ice tray, unlike fish-shaped ones whose tiny fins always break apart. Anyway, once I found the ice cube trays in 2013 I bought more of them the following year. Hold your horses! Am I talking too much? :) Excuse me my longish introduction – I’ve been sitting here on my own for days, working on August tutorials, this one, by the way, is the fifth one, and I definitely miss talking to somebody :) Without further ado, I collected all requisite items (at least I thought enough of them) I prepared the instalment to work overnight (this magic takes time to complete!)  Well, now I know first thing you need to do is to carry out a thorough research in the internet before you venture to actually start the job. It took me three items to make, until I was satisfied with the results. That’s the one Justyna is wearing in the above picture, but at least I can say I mastered the skill of ice cubes dyeing and now I’m ready to share all my experiences and conclusions with you. It turns out that it ‘s is actually thanks to the ice cubes that you can achieve all the wonderful, colourful  batik  effects (batik is a kind of tie-and-dye technique – more posts about this dyeing technque are to come in the future). Let’s get to work. First we need to prepare the “canvas” for the artwork.

 

 

Prepare the following:

  • 1 metre of COTTON (it is crucial since cotton fabrics are easier to dye) knitted fabric, 160-180 centimetres wide. I bought the white knitted fabric here: Outlet Tkanin. Mine is  185 cm wide,  so with this width of fabric we can make a dress that will be flared at the bottom – line. If you want to make a dress that will be longer than mine you should buy a piece of fabric of the length of the dress and add 10cm allowance.
  • Paper for making cutting patterns, a ruler and some felt-pens, measuring tape, fabric pencils, scissors, pins and threads.
  • Fabric dyes (can be bought at the chemist’s). The best results can be achieved by using different shades of the same group of colours. Prepare for two portions of each colour. I have chosen the following colours: lime, yellow, orange and red for first colour version and blue, turquoise, and azure for another colour version (pictures at the bottom of this post).
  • Get also 4 bags of  bicarbonate of soda (soda ash) and … lots of ice cubes!
  • Choose your favourite t-shirt as a base for making the cutting form (chose a  t-shirt that is well fitted, yet not to loose).

 

Pattern making and fabric cutting:

We need a form that is made of ½ of t-shirt form. How to copy the form from your t-shirt you can learn HERE,  you can also use your t-shirt by folding it precisely in two and flattening delicately any creases. This is exactly the form that follows your body shape. If you don’t have any top available you can make the pattern using the t-shirt form as a base; just make deeper neckline and correct the shape of the armholes so it would look like a top  – see the pictures below. Draw a horizontal line on the paper shape, the line should go through the armhole point and should be perpendicular to the top middle line – we’ll set the overall length starting at this point. Put this paper form against your body and decide what length you want. Start measuring the length from the horizontal line you have drawn.

Fold the knitted fabric two times to get a narrow rectangular made of four layers. If you’re using the knitted fabric in column it is just enough to fold it in two to be able to cut out the symmetrical front and the back of the top. The knitted fabric should stretch horizontally, so in the picture below the fabric stretches widthwise. Put the paper pattern onto the folded fabric so that the middle line of the pattern touches the folded edge. The middle line of the pattern should run along the folded edge at a certain angle so at the bottom of the paper pattern the middle line of the pattern should be 5 cm away from the folded edge. Now mark the dress’ length (adding 1 cm for folding the hem) in three places (by leaving a mark with a pencil):

  1. at the folded edge,
  2. starting from the middle-line of the top but going diagonally,
  3. on the side – from armscye to the opposite side of the fabric – here you can draw a straight line which is the side line of the dress.

Now join all these three points with a curve (the curve should start at the right angle at the side line of the dress and end also at the right angle – this time at the front middle-line of the dress. Mark the armscye line, neckline and shoulder.

 

 

Cut out the pattern leaving 1cm seam allowance around the armscye, the neckline and the shoulder. I didn’t add any seam allowance at the side because this dress is still wide anyway. Neither did I at the bottom line because this seam allowance had already been counted in previously.  If you want you can differentiate the depth of the neckline at the front and at the back. In the picture below my back neckline isn’t very deep.

 

 

So by now you have cut out both (the front and back) parts of the dress, both of them identical. Now  take one of the cut out parts and while still keeping it folded in two, cut deeper neckline.

 

 

When you unfold it, you have two parts, one having deeper neckline.

 

 

Now it’s time to introduce a WELT – something new, at last! I’ll show you how to sew a welt – this is a perfect way of finishing the edges of all knitted fabrics, most frequently we use it in t-shirts and tops around the neckline. First, measure the circumference of the armscye and neckline, to know how long  a piece of the welt you need. N.B. Measure the circumference 1cm from the edge of the fabric. While measuring the armscye circumference remember that there’s also a 1cm seam allowance at the shoulder-line, so don’t count it into the overall circumference of the armscye. The easiest way of measuring these circumferences is to lay the cut out patterns flat and, by means of measuring tape,  measure these circumferences part by part.

 

 

Now add the values for the front neck-line and back-neckline. For the welt to look good it’s crucial that the length of the welt should be 8-12% (depending on how stretchy the fabric is) shorter that the measured circumference. In my jersey knit I use 10%.

Decide the width of the welt; the best looking are these between 0,5 to 1 cm wide. If you are planning to use a welt that’s over 1,5 cm wide you should use ready made welt ribbed fabric. With such wide welts the percent difference between the actual measurements and the length of the welt used may be even greater than 12% a width of welt – experiment for yourself with this value.

Cut the straps (1 for the neckline and 2 for the armscye) each 4cm wide (2cm the welt + 2cm seam allowance) – after folding and sewing up the ready welt will be 1 cm wide.

 

 

Sewing up:

As you know, the knitted fabric is best sewn with overlock sewing machine since this machine gives a seam that is secured and flexible. Moreover, the overlock cuts off the excess fabric, while  a special differential mechanism prevents the seams from curling and creasing.

First, we sew up the shoulder and side seams of the fabric – the easiest way to do that is to put the front and back together (right sides together) and sew them up on the wrong side of the fabric.

 

 

Next, overlock the bottom hem of the dress – since it’s going to be the only finishing of this hem I added some colourful threads to this seam to make it more decorative (choose the threads of the colours of the dyes used). The welt stripes sew up along the SHORTER edges so that you have a loop.

 

 

Then, fold the loops lengthwise and iron them (the overlock seam is now hidden inside).

 

 

Now the difficult part: fix the welt around the neckline and secure it with pins, put the raw edges of the neckline and the welt together. Since our welt is 8%-12% shorter than the neck-line while pinning it remember to stretch the welt a bit.

While sewing up remember to regularly stretch the welt so it is sewn smoothly with the neck-line. If you’ve done everything correctly after turning in the welt and ironing it, it should look neat and follow the shape of the neckline.

N.B. While sewing up if you stretch the welt too much it will result in creases along the neckline, if you don’t stretch the welt strong enough, however, the welt may stick out.

It can be difficult initially, but practice makes perfect. Just remember to make sure (before sewing up) that the excess fabric of the neckline is spread evenly between the pins. If there’s not enough neckline fabric to stretch – the length of the welt should be reduced. There’s no point in discussing this mater in detail here – try it for yourself, I myself needed a couple of trials before I mastered this skill properly – experiment with different proportions of length between the neckline length and the welt’s length – this way you’ll get to “feel” it.

 

 

Set the overlock seam width on minimum and while sewing up keep controlling the width of the seam as not to make the welt too narrow. Generally, the welt should always be wider than the seam itself.

 

 

 

Once it’s sewn up, turn the welt and the seam in and press them. If you don’t have a overlock machine you can  use a regular stitching sewing machine (the neckline is still large enough so you won’t have to stretch it open while putting the dress on) but then remember to cut off the excess fabric at the seams so that still the welt is wider than the seams.

 

 

If, somehow, the welt still tends to stick out you can always fixed it additionally by stitching the neckline around so that the seam excess fabric is stitched too. In the picture below, you can see the welt at the back I made – yes, it’s tiny – it’s because I was correcting the seam and, all in all, I cut off too much of it. These things happen, so don’t panic. However, in this case, stitching around the neckline is a must.

Ahhh, so your “canvas” is finally ready!

 

 

 

Dyeing:

I’m going to describe everything I’ve learnt so far, but, to be on the safe side, I’m going to publish the clip too. First of all, prepare your working space: protect it with some waterproof overlay, get yourself rubber gloves – personally I don’t use the gloves but then the result being me sporting my colourful hands for a couple of days ;P

 

 

  • Prepare the solution of bicarbonate of soda – 4 bags of soda dissolve in 3,5 litre of lukewarm water (in the clip they suggest to use this solution of bicarbonate of soda to make ice cubes of) but I’m too inpatient too wait and in the third item I used plain water – the effect was fine too.
  • Soak the dress in this solution for 20 minutes.
  • Use a rack and a tray – since I couldn’t find anything better I used the oven grill rack and baking tray;). The point is, the dyed water of melting ice cubes should penetrate the fabric once only –  fabric can’t get in contact with the water in the tray. Take the dress out of the solution and let the excess water to drain. Put the dress on the tray. Put the ice cubes onto the dress so as they cover it thoroughly (when we later apply the powder dye it’s important that it gets applied on the ice cubes, not directly on the fabric)
  • Some darker dyes (i.e. dark red) consist of a couple of various colour – if the powder dye gets in direct contact with the fabric, there’s a chance that before it dissolves, the solid colour will disintegrate into its component hues, leaving ugly spots of unplanned hues (that’s what I learnt while dyeing my first dress).
  • Now apply the dye onto the ice; if you want to achieve the effect of intertwined colours put similar hues in a group. (i.e. I used larger spots of yellow and orange, while space between them was filled with lime) The red dye, as it is darker, apply only on the edges alone, in the end ( in dress number 2 I used the principal colour by applying it allover the fabric and in the process it merged with other colours giving, as a result, more homogeneous hues).
  • Leave it overnight or even longer, depending on the temperature in the room. As the ice starts melting  dissolves the dyes which penetrate the fabric giving colourful, unexpected results. Fascinating!
  • N.B. This process cannot be fully controlled, so expect unexpected!

 

 

 

I recommend to start the whole thing in the evening so it’s happening overnight, otherwise you won’t be able to resist the temptation to come up and check on the process every 5 minutes looking at it  and fiddling with it impatiently. While as you let it happen over the night, in the morning you feel as if the Santa was about to come today and you rush into the bathroom to see what he has brought you. Hopefully you will be happy with the ‘presents’, I was very happy with mine!

 

 

And here it is: dress number 2: I wanted it to be as turquoise as water in the lagoon but while I was applying the dye with my shaking hands I missed two spots of the willow-green dye in the middle. (the powder dyes are so dark that it is hard to tell the actual colour until they dissolve). My reward was beautiful, yet far too green in colour.

 

 

 

Here it is!

 

 

If you get bored with your dress you can always gather the fabric and tie it at the waist transforming the dress into a top. If you think the knot is too heavy, and you’re no longer going to wear a dress you can cut off a bottom part along a diagonal line starting at the hip line and going towards the bottom. Cut open the side seam, tie two loose ends. In the picture below, Justyna is wearing a dress (or rather top) that still hasn’t been cut. What do we do now? Let’s start making ice cubes, shall we? Instead of whisky let’s have ‘dress on rocks’!

 

 

This tutorial has been prepared for you by Janek

janek-mini