I am looking for a medium weight pure linen, in pink that is both very light in shade, and cool (blue undertones). For a summer jacket.
I have found lots of nice smokey pinks, shell pinks and bright pinks. And even a few good (for me) pinks in blouse weights. McCullough and Wallis has a heavy “jacket” linen in pink, and I dropped into examine it. It has a nice weight and I liked the colour, but it was too grey in reality. And, as Jenny suggested there is nice one at Merchant and Mills – third picture. I think this one might be a bit peachy – it’s always hard to tell on a screen, but my experience of linen tells me that the underlying yellowness will come through if the fabric is not first bleached. As ever, even when you make your own clothes it is a compromise – I found nice light greys and other neutrals, and a light jacket in taupe or stone would be very useful, but I still had a desire for pink.
So I considered getting the right weight in white and dying it.
Simply Fabrics of Brixton had some pure white heavy linen that I planned to buy. But when I got there I realised it was probably more suitable as a furnishing fabric. Luckily Leo located some lighter weight white linen, and a couple of metres of white viscose lining. As you probably know, because viscose is made from cotton it dyes in a similar way. I wanted to be able to dye the lining and fashion fabric together.
The next thing was to take advice from my friend and dye expert Marijana of Sew2Pro. Marijana often makes wonderful clothes in inexpensive plain cotton and then dyes the garment. Although I love the dying process I have only ever done it in a bucket or a sink – by hand. I have got fairly even, but not perfect, results. When hand dying I put the garment in the machine at the end and it does get rid of the remaining dye, and often evens it out. Marijana swears by the washing machine method. Have you ever tried it? I had of course wanted to, but my husband was against it, believing that some residue would remain and would ruin his shirts or whatever. And as dye stains permanently, and in its powdered state it is very concentrated, you can probably understand Nick’s anxieties.
In our conversation Marijana was very reassuring. She said that if it dyes your next load they give you your money back (£3.89??), “or a new washing machine or something”. And that she hadn’t believed it either, but that she had done it many times. So I ordered the dye, and the salt (which is just salt really), and washed my 4 metres of fabric to remove any finishes. I didn’t consult my husband I just did it!
You put the powder in the bottom of the washing machine drum, and cover it with the salt, then you put in the clean damp fabric. With the 4 metres I had more than the package suggested could be successfully dyed (one pair of trousers). It suggests if you are dying a duvet cover two packs are needed. I figured my two fabrics were about equal to one duvet cover but decided to risk it. I was after a light pink so I hoped this would work for me.
I glanced inside the machine while it was dying. (Observant readers will know what I was wearing that day!) It looked fairly pink. A fact that was confirmed when the fabric came out. I laid it, damp, on the floor and while the process was very successful – strong, non-streaky look – I think the colour is a bit deep. Even after drying off in the sunshine it is a shade or two deeper than I had planned. All the pinks in these photos are different, as is the light, and none of them is “true”. The viscose is a little deeper than the linen. Even though I wanted very light pink, I much prefer these to the yellowy Merchant and Mills, and the muted MacCulloch and Wallis.
I now have two options. Procure or produce some lighter pink linen (I am sure the lining would be OK) or use this medium pink – which is a colour I like very much. But it may be a bit too pink and girly for a work jacket. Although men do still wear pink shirts sometimes they seem to be out of fashion at the moment. If I used half a packet on the same amount of fabric I might get the colour I want. But it takes all day and four cycles on your machine – washing the fabric, dying the fabric, washing out the dye and washing out the washing machine. Then drying and pressing the fabric. As I haven’t toiled the jacket I might just go for it and see what happens. Sometimes I spend so much time trying for just the exact right shape, colour, design etc and then end up disappointed in some way.
Have you ever tried to get a colour you want by dyeing?