thought + process
I made this piece by accident. I was supposed to make scarves from this fabric. However the weight of the fabric, although not heavy, was excessive around the neck especially when this was meant to be an oversized summer scarf. The dimensions weren't right either. It just didn't work as a scarf but I already cut the fabric so I wasn't sure what to do.
I had 4 pieces that had been cut roughly the same size. I started by cutting the fabric in half lengthwise to give me 2 long pieces, then I folded those pieces in half and cut along the width. I didn't measure anything since this was some random fabric I had found in the bottom of my fabric bin. I know it was purchased online so there wasn't an option to quickly get more, I considered this an experiment in order to get the dye technique and approximate dimensions. Once I had all 4 pieces is when I tried to place 1 panel around my neck. This is a 100% crinkle rayon which is a lightweight fabric but it was cut too short to be oversized, and was too bulky to lay as effortlessly as a summer scarf should. This didn't work, scarves may come another time but not with this fabric in these dimensions.
I soon realized that a simple kimono only requires 3 panels and can be a lightweight fabric. LIGHTBULB!! I immediately took 1 piece and cut it in half lengthwise to give me 3 panels. I think I'm on to something.
Next is dying these pieces as the fabric began plain white. I knew I wanted bold colors and more than 2 but choosing a color combination was difficult as I began to overthink this portion of the process. I had several potential combinations laid out but could not make a decision. This was ridiculous, I had wasted more time trying to figure out the colors than the dying process would take. Finally, I closed my eyes and stuck out my hand, whichever jar I hit first would be the winning combination. I landed on raspberry/antique gold/teal. I'm using Procyon MX dyes by Jacquard that I purchase at a local art supply store. I had my colors, now onto low immersion dye technique which is one I haven't done before. The fabric had previously been in a soda ash bath from a dye job I did a few weeks earlier, I knew this piece would be dyed at some point and didn't want to waste the leftover soda ash bath that I had. As I read the instructions, I saw that each color would need 2 teaspoons of powder dye to 8 oz of water. These jars are quite small so 2 teaspoons would leave me with less than I desired to have in each color. Also, instructions for a low immersion dye process will tell you not to presoak the fabric in soda ash so as to allow the dye to take to the fabric unevenly and create the tie dye look. The option at this point was to sprinkle dye directly onto the fabric and hope that the powder didn't "break" too much ( when working with this type of dye powder, most colors are created by mixing other colors together. If the powder hasn't been fully mixed with water, you may see speckles or breaks of individual color particles from the intended color ). I also let the fabric sit in plain water for about 10 minutes to hopefully allow some of the soda ash to be removed. However this stage caused me to make up a squirt bottle of soda ash mix that I would later squeeze onto the rung out wet fabric.
I arranged my panels, scrunched them ( I didn't bind them with anything ) and began to sprinkle dye directly onto the panels. In areas that were powder heavy I used the soda ash solution in the squeeze bottles to get the dye wet and not have it wasted (hopefully). Flipped each piece and did the same on the other side. I should have covered the container to ensure nothing would dry out but I didn't. I let the the dye bath sit for almost 24 hours before it was washed.
I have 3 gorgeous panels. They look better than I imagined they could. I got a little carried away with the raspberry so it overtook the antique gold in some areas and the teal ended up showing more olive-ish green than I had anticipated but I'm otherwise excited about the finished colors. It's time to sew!
I initially draped each panel onto my dress form to get a general idea of how the finished product would look, it was then that I had cut the neck curve on the back panel. Each piece had a nice fray going since they had been machine washed and dried, I was desperate not to lose the original frayed edges since they tend to look better. The idea was to keep all of the frayed edges but once I considered practical wear, I decided to add a seam to the neck curve on the back panel. I also wasn't sure how to keep all of the frayed look if it had to be put together so each front panel was hemmed on the inside and sewn to the back panel with the back frayed edges exposed. This probably could have been executed better with a twin needle but my sewing skills required me to do each seam one at a time.
I still have 2 more plain white panels that need some color and to be put together. I'll be sure to try a low immersion technique using colors that I have more than 1 jar. Should I make another one? Let me know what you think of this piece.