Before we get to the fun stuff, I just want to say thank you all so much for coming and visiting me on my brand new website! I've gotten everything as 'done' as I can, but I imagine there will be a settling-in period as I make this new house a home. If you notice anything's wrong, wonky, upside down, or an unattractive shade of red, please let me know so I can fix it!
I think of vintage sheets as the shipping pallets of the sewing world. They're kind of unassuming at first, and most modern folks wouldn't have any use for them in their original form (I like my bedding plain, thankyouverymuch) -but given the right bit of inspiration, they can turn into something awesome.
Also - because Pinterest is a thing that exists - vintage sheets are about as hard to come by these days as shipping pallets are. I know, for I have hunted both in their wild habitats.
My vintage sheets came from Fabric-a-Brac last year - it's a secondhand fabric and sewing goodies sale that travels around New Zealand, where people with fabric to sell converge on a venue to sell their stashes, and presumably buy other people's stashes. I snagged four vintage sheets for $10, and this is one of them. It's a twin size flat sheet: my second favorite, and I think the most densely woven of the four.
I do love a good large-scale floral, and blue is a pretty easy to wear color, but I didn't want to end up looking too much like an exploding powder-blue bouquet, so I decided to modernize things a bit by dip-dyeing the skirt in some coordinating blue. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves here.
This is another French Navy Orla dress (see: Orla #1)- I really liked the shape of the first one, and it put me in a sundress-making mood that I just couldn't shake - despite the mostly uncooperative weather. I used the same modifications as last time, but I went back to the original scoop neck in this version and removed some of the extra width from the skirt. I stuck with my lined bodice - this time in a silk/cotton blend from The Fabric Store. Of course, there are pockets.
This one was quicker than the first one: I wasn't worried about fit, plus the cotton was much more stable than my wiggly rayon. It was the dyeing that ended up taking most of the time. I chronicled the process in real time on my Instagram stories, but if you weren't there for that, it went as follows:
I sewed the skirt and hem in cotton thread so that it would dye with the cotton fabric. Then, I balled up the bodice and tied it inside a plastic bag to keep it safe from the dye. I tied a shoelace around the bag so that I could control the ombre process, and prepared the dye.
My cotton dyes are Dharma's Fiber Reactive Dyes - I used electric blue, which was a pretty close match for the blue of the flowers. I used about a teaspoon of dye, plus 4 tablespoons of soda ash and 8 tablespoons of salt in my bucket.
I rigged a little ombre station in the shower, as it was the only place I had where I could control the depth of the dress in the dye, and also guarantee a speedy cleanup. I dunked and soaked the skirt in the soda ash mixture for about 10 minutes so that the dye could absorb into wet fabric (this prevents obvious graded lines of color -the damp fabric absorbs water more evenly so the fade is more gradual)
Then, I combined the dye with the water, and parked myself on the bathroom floor with the shoestring looped over the shower fixture, dunking to different levels as time progressed. A quick dunk for the top, a few minutes for the middle, and the majority of the color concentrated around the hem. After the initial 20 minutes of the process, the reaction slowed down so I tied it off with just the hem in the bucket and let it soak overnight.
I was pretty happy with the top and middle sections of the skirt, but after it dried I decided I wanted the hem to be a deeper blue. I repeated the dunking and dyeing process with just the hem, and a mixture of strong navy and electric blue dye - and now it's perfect!
My favorite part of this dress is that the blue dye highlights the white printed swirl design - it was all over the sheet, but so subtle that you can only see it in certain light. I think that white feature makes the whole thing look a lot more 'hipster-does-70's' and a lot less 'I paid $3.50 for this granny fabric and dyed it a little bit'
I feel a bit like a Pinterest maven when I wear this dress: "Why thank you, I made it out of a vintage sheet!" - I imagine pretty similar to the way a person feels when they show off pallet furniture. That said - and despite how happy I am with the dress itself - I'm not sure how much wear it's going to get. The fabric isn't as swishy as my first version, and it's still a bit not my style. I'm not wearing it right now because it's winter and I'm cold, so I guess I'll reserve my final judgement for summer, but one thing is for sure - this one is definitely out of my comfort zone.
I've got some fun new projects coming up, and I'm really looking forward to testing the boundaries of my new website! Aside from that big scary button at the top of the page that says "Wedding Dress" which I'm getting to soon, I've also got my eye on a monthly blog installment that I think is going to be a lot of fun. Basically, ~pay no attention to the lady behind the curtain~ and I'll see you next week!