Sometimes in sewing I notice funny little twerks of the cloth and wonder why. For example- why exactly does stiff, light dupion silk become lovely swirly silk when washed? I made my wedding dress of such washed silk and wondered at the time if I could crisp it back later if I wanted. Since then I occasionally play with scraps of similar silk to watch how it behaves.
I dyed cotton pique (bottom) and a scrap of dupion silk with Lilac iDye. I made a Parfait from linen dyed with the same color, and smile every time I see the dress. This time, I washed both together on gentle. Then I added the packet of iDye, a cup of salt, and 2/3 c of sodium carbonate. They sell it at pool supply shops as a pH booster. Silk needs a high pH to accept the dye readily. Once I used only salt and the silk was very palely tinted.
When Lauren at Wearing History asked for pattern testers a while ago, I jumped up and down shouting “ME ME ME” so she sent me a pattern if I’d just sit still and sew it. This and the jacket will be my main projects for the next month.
Back to the silk revelation- I washed both fabrics afterward with a little regular soap and a tiny dash of hair conditioner. Silk is a protein fiber like hair, right? I took the wet silk from the washing machine and hard pressed it on a high iron to dry the fabric, with a towel protecting the silk. I must not have pressed it just that way before, because this time the crisp came back to washed silk. It took forever to steam it dry that way.
I used copious amounts of sodium carbonate this time. The color on both fabrics is deeper and richer than I’ve achieved thus far on any of my dyeing experiments. In the late afternoon light they glowed. Sometimes the color turns out muddy or fades quickly. I’ll test for color-fastness by washing a scrap with my darks for a while. I’m not worried about how fast it is (Moderne is a work dress). Just curious.