More Experimentation: Dip-Dyed Dress

Pattern: Simplicity's Special Occasion Dresses #4070
Fabric: 2 yds stretch woven
Cost: $30

Coming up at the end of my week off I had another friend's wedding (the twin brother of the groom from our Alaska wedding), this time in beautiful Tahoe. Because I had some time off, I decided to experiment on a design I've wanted to do for a long time - a dress with a dip-dyed hem. 

I had bought some beautiful cream-colored fabric for the project a while ago, but since this was for a wedding I knew that white wouldn't cut it. So I first started off by dying the fabric a light yellow. Or at least that was the intention... It came out looking like a banana cream pie, which is great for desserts but not my cup of tea when it comes to fashion. Some dye remover and a bleach bath later and I had it back down to a very light yellow. Perhaps a bit too white, but still much better than banana yellow. 

For those of you who are curious, my preferred method for dying is by washing machine. I have never had an issue with the color sticking around for the next load, and I like how evenly it comes out in this process. I don't have any sort of big vat or large kitchen, so this method works great for me. I simply let the washer fill up with hot water, add the dye (pre-mixed with a cup of warm water if I remember), submerge the fabric, and let it soak. To get the fabric fully submerged I let the washer agitate for a moment. After it soaks, I let the washer run and then throw the fabric in the dryer. Pretty easy! I think this method would work less well if you were going for a very specific color, in which case you would probably need a method that allows you to monitor more closely. 

For the hem, I cut the circle skirt and then prepared a warm dye bath in a bucket. It was difficult to dip a circle hem evenly, and it took some experimentation to get the intensity I wanted. After the initial dip I laid the dress out on a painter's tarp and sponged on some more color, but I think this just made more drips than color. I then decided to hand the skirt back in the dye bath, agitating the layers a bit every ten minutes. To preserve the bright color I squeezed the fabric out and threw it in the dryer rather than completely rinsing it out. This worked well in not washing the color out, but I don't know how the dress would hold up if I decide to wash it in the future. 

Of course, there was one final layer of dying. As I was putting the finishing touches on the dress and pressing the stitching around the zipper, a giant burn mark began to form. Right on the bum. Where where it would look like you had an accident or sat in something nasty. I cussed so loudly that I woke the dog up, and ran into the laundry room for the bleach. While the rest of the fabric had put up to rigorous pressing, for some reason this part of the fabric reacted. Perhaps there was more bleach or dye in this area? Luckily, a little dabbing of bleach cleaned it right up, and the fibers looked unharmed. I rejoiced. 

The end result is a little less edgy than my inspiration pictures, but fun and different than your average dress. It was perfect for a sunny summer wedding, and I would be excited to try dip-dying again.

The dress itself is once again Simplicity's Special Occasion Dresses #4070, the same pattern I used for the Alaska wedding dress but this time with a circle skirt. I love the shape of this pattern and how versatile it is depending on the fabric and details you choose. This fabric, which is a bit stiffer than the last one, had tons of body in the skirt, which I loved. 

Because the fabric had some stretch to it, however, I did end up needing to take in the bodice a bit, and it was still a bit too big at the shoulders. This was surprising, as the last version of this dress in a non-stretch woven was a bit snug after a big meal. I also should have stay-stitched the waist of the circle skirt before dangling it in dye, as I'm pretty sure that stretched out a good deal as well. 

Here are some shots from the wedding, including a rare one with my lovely photographer boyfriend and a fellow-party goer and lover of yellow. 


  1. I have had a dip-dye hem tutorial pinned for ages but haven't gotten around to actually doing it. Yours looks so great!

    1. A tutorial would have been helpful! Share here or on your blog if you get a chance!

  2. What and amazing dress! I love the dip-dyed hem it looks great...I want one for myself. sorry if I once copy your dress :)

    1. By all means, do it! I didn't add it to the post, but here are my inspiration pics:

  3. This is great - I might try this on a simple TShirt in the future!

    Thanks for sharing your results!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...