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One of the young ladies asked Jo where she got the pretty drab hat she wore to the picnic; and stupid Jo, instead of mentioning the place where it was bought two years ago, must needs answer, with unnecessary frankness, “Oh, Amy painted it; you can’t buy these soft shades, so we paint ours any color we like. It’s a great comfort to have an artistic sister.”
“Isn’t that an original idea?” cried Miss Lamb, who found Jo great fun.
“That’s nothing compared to some of her brilliant performances. There’s nothing the child can’t do. Why, she wanted a pair of blue boots for Sally’s party, so she just painted her solid white ones the loveliest shade of sky blue you ever saw, and they looked exactly like satin,” added Jo, with an air of pride in her sister’s accomplishments that exasperated Amy till she felt that it would be a relief to throw her card-case at her.
–Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, chapter 6: “Calls”
Every year or so I round up all my least-loved, under-used clothes and dye them a new color. This color is nearly always Royal Blue. Why? Because dyeing garments is a gamble. You can’t be certain how they’ll turn out. I’m fussy about shades of green, purple, or red, but practically any blue is fine by me.
The last time I dyed a load of clothes blue, it was my wedding day. I was dyeing, among other things, the enormous pink Malco Modes petticoat I intended to wear under my wedding dress. During the dyeing process, I saw that some my clothes were being tied up by a knit belt so I reached into the open washing machine and untangled all the garments… … thereby staining my right forearm blue a few hours before my wedding. So bright, and yet so dumb.
Why dye? To restore faded clothing to respectability and lend a little novelty to your same ol’ stuff.
Wow, these shades suit my floor beautifully. Not my skin, alas.
After taking the above photo, I had the foresight to put the band-aid colored fishnet stockings and the blue knit belt (that troublemaker) in a nylon laundry bag. That way, they couldn’t strangle the other clothes and turn the whole load into tie-dye. I also borrowed my faded blue winter coat from the mending pile and tossed it in.
Let’s skip the technical details; I do whatever the dye bottle, bag, or box tells me to do.
Not too shabby! Pardon the overexposure, everything’s darker in reality. The skirt and belt turned a sickly dark gray-green, those might go straight back to TO DYE waiting list. All in all, I’d call this gamble a success.
A few friendly reminders for new home-dyers:
– Remember, even if you follow the instructions perfectly, you don’t know what shade you’ll get
– Don’t forget that polyester thread won’t take dye, so your garments may come out of the dye vat with contrasting stitching
– Dye has a wonderful/terrible way of highlighting old stains you didn’t realize were there. That happened with my wedding dress (which is now blue + stains) and the above sweater. Sigh!
– Some garments will bleed color for awhile after they’ve been freshly dyed, some won’t. Consider washing your dyed things separately until you’re certain they won’t ruin your other clothes
– In light of all the above, don’t dye anything you love dearly