Stick or Fix?

Deep net and lace trim

Deep net and lace trim

You know how, sometimes, you are searching around for the right word and it just won’t come to mind? Well, that happened to me on Saturday. I was preparing to go into the tiny centre of the town where we live. I only had a couple of errands, one of which was to buy some salt. Peter expressed doubts that my trip was worthwhile for just the two things, but I explained that I needed the salt to use on that day. He asked me what it was for and that was when the word I needed completely escaped me. I told him that I wanted to do some dyeing and that I needed the salt as a mordant to ‘stick’ the dye. I knew ‘stick’ was the wrong word but I just couldn’t think of the right one!

Dylon Machine Dye in Burlesque Red

Dylon Machine Dye in Burlesque Red

I had bought the dye a few days earlier but had completely forgotten to buy the salt. I was preparing to dye some white broderie anglaise fabric that Peter’s mother had given me: the plan was to use the fabric to make some items for Syria. However, culturally, white is their colour of mourning and, also, with water being a scarce commodity, light colours are discouraged. I had chosen this lovely shade: Burlesque Red, which I thought, and hoped, would be suitable.

I placed the two lengths of fabric in the washing machine and set it to wash before going on my errands. When I returned with the salt, the machine had completed its cycle. I had decided that, in addition to the broderie anglaise, I would dye a couple of small pieces of silk fabric from that which I am currently selling, together with a few short lengths of lace. I had even bought a laundry net to put the pieces in so that they didn’t become entangled in the machine.

The results of my labours

The results of my labours

As you can see from the photograph, the dyeing session went well. In fact, I was very pleased with the results. There was one glaring failure: the stitching on the hem on one of the pieces of broderie anglaise [which you can see in the bottom right of the picture] had obviously been done with manmade thread and, consequently, had resolutely remained white! It’s not a problem as all I need to do is whip out my trusty stitch unpicker and remove the offending stitches. I had also thrown in a couple of short lengths of nylon lace, just to see how much or how little the dye would take on them. The answer was: very little. In fact the two pieces barely showed any trace of pink, although the stitched motif on one was obviously done using cotton thread which had absorbed the colour beautifully. I don’t count those two lengths as failures as I had no real expectation that the dye would affect their colour.

The two silk fabrics

The two silk fabrics

The two pieces of silk, one dupion, the other taffeta, took the dye beautifully and evenly. Both pieces were an ivory/cream colour at the start and ended up a soft, slightly muted shade of light purple. I think it’s a beautiful colour and I shall enjoy finding a project to use them in.

One of the short lengths of cotton lace

One of the short lengths of cotton lace

As you can see, the cotton lace dyed beautifully: its resulting colour is very similar to that of the broderie anglaise, which is a good and satisfying result. The small piece of net and lace shown in the first photograph, at the head of this post, also took the colour well. In fact, I think that design together with the Burlesque Red is an attractive combination.

All in all, I am pleased with the results of my dyeing session. Yes, I know using a machine dye could be seen as cheating, but, with results as good as these, I think my cheating was justifiable.

Oh, and on Sunday morning, I finally remembered the word I was trying to think of: it was ‘fix’! Such a simple word, you’d think it would stick in my mind, wouldn’t you?

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