Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Baste and dye: the tale of a lost shirt

Once upon a time, a plain green shirt hung on a clothesline in a quiet backyard. It was a cold and windy winterday and there was nobody in sight. The shirt dangled in the wind. But the wind became stronger and stronger, pulling the shirt back and forth until... it finally managed to pull the shirt from the clothesline. It went flying through the air, until it finally landed on top of a pile of wood in the back of the yard. 

There it lie, unseen. days went by...Until, one day the owner of the shirt walked through the garden and saw a glimpse of faded green on top of the pile of wood. She climbed on top of it to investigate it and saw the shirt, faded by sun and wind. She exclaimed " oh my shirt! thou art faded!"

Yep, embarrassing as it is, I have to admit: I recently ruined one of my favorite shirts because of cruel neglect from my side. I had left it on the clothesline and had completely forgotten about it, until I found it back in the garden. And boy, it was not a pretty sight. After being in rain, wind and sunshine for a couple of weeks, the shirt was faded, and had odd stains on the back where it was extra faded from sunlight.

It looked much worse in reality, I promise :)
Although throwing it away might have been the best option, I have always loved this shirt. The fabric is soft and of good quality. So I decided to use it as a guinea pig for one of my experiments:
a combination of basting and dyeing!

Many of you may remember the traditional tye-dye techniques: binding and knotting the shirt together with some string to create funky patterns. I love the idea of tye dye, but I figured that it would be a little too wild for me, so I decided to experiment with a more subtle approach: basting.

I started with basting around the neckline several times with some strong yarn.

By basting several lines underneath each other, I mimicked the look of a layered necklace. I simply cut of the yarn, leaving some extra room to tie it all together once I was finished basting.

I also added some basting at the bottom of the shirt. I didn't do a very neat job: not all stichtes were even, and there was also some variation in height, but If figured that would create a nice effect.

Once I was finished, I pulled all the basting together, and made secure knots in the end, so that it looked this this:

Then I simply tossed it in a bath of ocean-blue dye. I usually use a washing machine for this, but this Time a simply poured the paint with some salt and hot water in a bucket, and tossed the shirt (along with some other things) in. I think that a washing machine usually creates a more even effect. But in this case, the uneven painting was intended :)

After 45 minutes of soaking in the dye, I took the shirt out, rinsed and washed it, and unpicked all my basting seams. After a quick press with my iron, this is what came out of it!

looks like small leafs!

I love how it still looks a lot like tye-dye, but it is much easier to manage the painting. You could do all kinds of patterns, or even write a text or something, which I would love to try!

Next time I might simply do the basting on my sewing machine. And I love to try some patterns with this: vertical lines, or triangular patterns by crisscrossing the basting.. I think it might work out pretty cool!

And for now, I'm happy to have saved my shirt.  I'm so sorry shirt, I will never forget you again!

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