Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Short Disucssion on Shorts Dyeing

by Kathleen

You know what would be fun? A new post!! And how about one with lots of pretty (maybe) pictures? Yesss!!!

These past few years one of my recurring design responsibilities has been to do the costumes for two to three of the pieces in our spring dance concert. I started out as a dancer when I went to college, and I still love dance. All kinds and forms of dance interest me, but here our main (pretty much entire) focus is modern dance.
I have certain strengths in my design work, and one of them is character and humor. Two strengths... my two strengths are character and humor. And use of color. Three! My three strengths are... oh wait... sorry. I got lost in Monty Python (Nobody expects the Costume Designer!).
Anyway, despite the above I am good at funny and and at bold characterizations. And so I tend to get those kinds of pieces. But this year... I not only got a character driven piece, but I also got a pretty one too. Oh such fun!
The choreographer wanted dresses with full skirts and each of the five dancers should be different. There was a lot of twirling and floor work, so one of the elements that the choreographer and I talked about was that the full skirts meant something else had to offer modesty protection. And since we wanted to keep a flow to the silhouette I suggested full legged culottes... so there would be a double skirt effect (she didn't want it to look like pants), but plenty of modest coverage as well. (This was an idea another of our designers had used a couple years before). And as we got further into color discussions the idea of differentiating each girl in dress color but unifying in culotte color gelled.
To achieve the different colors while maintaining the strong connection between the five dancers I bought an undyed yardage of rayon knit for the all the dresses and stretch silk charmeuse for the all the culottes. And first built, and then dyed them.
The dressed were ombre dyed a solid color each, but the culottes... ooooo, I did something new to me! I threw dye on them! Fun messy splashy wheeeee dyeing!
I used Dharma Trading's acid dyes, and I pretty much followed the directions given on their site. I soaked the shorts in a vinegar and water mix first, getting them well saturated.

Then I mixed up the desired colors in small batches in glass jars, filled the washing machine with cold water for the rinse, and prepped the aluminum pan.

I did one pair of shorts each time. I laid them out as flat as I could length and width wise.

And then I poured the dye over them, overlapping and splashing as I went, judging it by eye. I did the up side and then flipped it quickly to do the back.

I did a quick microwave... VERY quick, about 30 seconds, pause, 30 seconds. I had read somewhere that this would help set the colors. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't... but I figure it didn't hurt anything.

Then I rinsed until the water was mostly clear and tossed it in the washer.
When all the shorts were done I turned on the washer and rinsed them well. This is their color wet.

This is their color dry.

Back view.
I also dyed scraps with the intention of finishing off necklines and sleeves and wherever it looked right on the dresses.

Here is one of the dresses. You can see how beautifully the rayon knit draped (and it felt like a cloud of soft melty textile fabulousness. Really).

Back view. I wish the dancer had turned her back to the audience more... she had a great back and this looked great on her!

And when she spun...

Here you can see the colors all together, the dresses in motion, and the way the culottes peeked out here and there adding coverage and color. The choreographer was happy, the dancers were happy, and I was happy.
It's always such a joy when things comes together so well...