How to dye your hand made wedding dress to make it more sustainable.
If you sew your wedding dress with the intention to dye it afterwards, you can get a lot more wears out of it. That way you can be more sustainable in your fashion choices. You can be even more eco friendly by styling it with thrift store finds.
First sew the wedding dress.
So you have got this beautiful wedding dress that you have made for yourself, and you would now love to turn it into a wearable dress to get more wears out of it and be more sustainable in your fashion choices.
I have previously wrote a blog post about sewing your own vintage inspired wedding dress from a regular dress pattern. First part of my plan with sewing this dress was to show you, that sewing a wedding dress is not necessarily more difficult than sewing a regular dress, and that it is totally something you could achieve. Second part of my plan was to show you how to dye that dress after your wedding and get more use out of a dress that you would normally only wear once. If you want to read my post about sewing the dress first click here.
The prices of dying the wedding dress.
I made this dress out of thai silk and lace of unknown fibers. Both fabrics were from the scrap sale pile which is also why I don’t know what the lace is made of. I also used acetate lining and an off white invisible zip. Therefore in order to dye the dress I needed dye that would dye more than one type of fibre. I found the Dylon multi-purpose dye at patin-a.de where I bought pagoda red in a 10 gr. packet. Be aware that the multi-purpose dye does not work with polyester! Although I did not know the exact composition of the lace, I was going to take the risk and I was willing to accept, that the lace and the silk would get different shades of pagoda red. I also knew that the zip probably would turn out lighter than the rest of the dress and probably also the the lining. You can not really see the lining and you can only see the hanger of the zip, so again, I was willing to accept this for the sake of being able to use the dress more than once.
I did not want to wash the fabric before sewing the wedding dress although that is what I normally do. But the thai silk will get a little bit less shiny and less crisp looking when you wash it. On the other hand the fabric will shrink in the boiling proces, so you can argue that it’s worth washing/boiling the fabric before you start sewing. Instead I made sure that my dress wasn’t to tight and had extra hemming so I could let it down if needed. I do not like dresses to be to restricting anyway, so my dress was on the loose side, and I made the hemming of the dress 4 cm. It could have been more, but I did not have enough fabric, so 4 cm is what I had to work with. As you hear I had taken my precautions for wanting to dye the dress after it’s first use, already before I started cutting it.
I read the instructions on the dye carefully, and it said you had to slowly bring the water and the dress to the boiling point in a big saucepan where you would be able to stir the garment constantly to secure an even colouring of the dress. I did not have a saucepan big enough, so I had to be creative. I had a big tub made out of plastic, and since it is the rapid change of temperature that causes the silk to shrink (as far as I understand it) I started by putting my dress in lukewarm water. Then slowly little by little I added boiling water like if it was just getting warmer on the stove. A least that’s how I pictured it:-) Well, it seemed to work, because the result turned out fine. I got a shade of red a little bit lighter than on the packet, so if you want a more intense shade you will probably need more dye. I know it’s not easy to see in the photos, but in real life the dress is lighter than it looks on my photos. A little bit more like a strong salmon colour which actually suits me better, so I’m very pleased with that shade of pagoda.. I will have to stress that it is of course best to follow the instructions on the dye for the best result! And also don’t forget to wear rubber gloves.
Working with the new red dress.
The dress did shrink a bit, especially the length. So I unpicked the hand sewn hem at the bottom of the dress and did a machine hem of only 1.5 cm. What I had not anticipated, although I should have, was the polyester tread staying off white of course. This was not a huge problem since I did not have any visible seams on my dress other than where I had sewn on the lace trim at the bottom of the sleeves. The lace I used for this dress did not have a nice scalloped edge, so I had to sew on a beautiful lace trim. If your dress doesn’t have any visible stitching you will not have a problem, otherwise sew the visible stitching with cotton thread if you want to dye it after your wedding. I had the choice to either unpick the lace trim and sew it back on in the right colour, or shorten the sleeves. I decided that it would be a great opportunity to show the dress with short sleeves, so I went for the short sleeve version.
The hanger of the zip and the lining turned out a lot paler than the dress, but as I mentioned before the tone of red is right and you don’t really see those two things anyway. I’m so happy with how it turned out, and I got a very versatile summer dress out of that wedding dress. It can be styled in so many ways, and in this post I have showed you 6 different ways, and I’m sure you can easily put your on spin and taste on it as well. It can work as summer dress going to the beach, or as a more fancy version paired with some high heels and a sequins purse for a cocktail party. You can also wear it on colder days with jacket and some boots. Most of my accessories are thrifted or handmade. Some of my shoes are thrifted as well, but most of them are old shoes already in my wardrobe. I also created a great outfit with my denim jacket that I made out of thrifted old jeans. I love the thrifted multicoloured purse that I found in the second hand shop, especially because it’s hand made out of old recycled plastic. What I’m saying is that I encourage you to go to your local second hand shop for a treasure hunt. You can find so many great items there to spice up your own outfits.
It was totally worth it.
It was quite a lot of work, and it did feel a bit (read very) daunting putting the beautiful white silk dress into the dye, because you don’t really know what result you’ll get. So only do this if you are not too attached to your dress, also don’t do it if your dress holds a lot sentimental value to you. As I said in the beginning of this blog post I created this dress with the intention of dying it later, so I had made the decision before I even made the wedding dress to sew a dress model that would be wearable after the wedding. I tried to capture the difference in tone that I ended up with in both the lace and the lining/hanger. It does not show well in the photos, but there are different tones of pagoda red if you compare the silk, to both the lace and the lining. The cord in the lace is also a wee bit lighter than the rest of the lace, but to me it actually looks quite rather nice.
To sum it up, For me it was worth the work, and totally made the dress wearable for more than one time and therefore so much more sustainable. I love wearing this dress and I could easily become addicted to wear silk.
Hope you got some inspiration, Tina
NB. On a final note, I’m not being sponsored by any of the companies that I mention, they are just the ones I chose to use:-)