Tessa sweater

A couple of weeks ago Daniela of DG Patterns contacted me to test the Tessa sweater. You’ve already seen this pattern featured in my chevron trimmed dress I made for That Sewing Blab.  Before I made that dress, I made this one, and this Tessa sweater dress is a project that was all about transformation.

Tessa Sweater Dress

Wrap neck style

As for the pattern, I really love the wrap around style of the neck on view D.

It’s nice to have a neckline in cold weather that you can wear sans scarf or other extra warm layers.  Also, this neckline is sleek enough that I can still play violin while wearing it which is not the case for turtlenecks or other “winter” styles.  For those, I have to add a little capelet like this one I made as part of my Handmade Holidays series I’m currently doing on YouTube.

Kind of chenile, kind of towel like, kind of hard to classify

Tessa sweater

Colorado Fabrics is often a source of really unusual fabrics.  The one I used for this dress is no exception.  I bought it as a flat fold, and I really have no clue what it is.  It’s a stable knit with a lace face and some raised flowers that feel rather like chenile.  The texture of this knit is absolutely fascinating, but the baby pink color is a little offputting.

For before and after effect, I took a couple pictures of the dress all made up before I metaphorically blow up the whole thing.

It’s not that it was bad, it’s just kind of plain and really lacks the depth that the knit’s texture has naturally.

Why you need a dedicated dye pot

Tessa sweater

I have this unwritten rule in my sewing room that plain fabrics will always be embellished in some way.  Another rule I have is that if something has been in my stash for more than 2 years, it’s fair game to dye/bleach or otherwise alter.  My logic is that if something has managed to stay in my stash for such a length of time, ignored, then I must not like it enough to use it.
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I’ve blockprinted, painted, and bleached out many fabrics.  Dyeing is a recent addition to my altered cloth arsenal.  Before I bought a cheap stock pot for dyeing, I was rather hesitant about mixing dyes.  Now that I have one that resides in garage, I often turn to it to add a little extra flair to my projects.  Dye all the things!!!!

Swatches

Tessa sweater

I can’t emphasize it enough, but when you set out to dye a fabric, you need to do swatches.  Mixing dye is a bit of trial and error and different fibers react differently to every batch of dye.

This particular fabric is most certainly nearly all polyester.  Rit DyeMore has quickly become my favorite product since it can actually legitimately dye synthetic fibers.  Whatever is in that stuff binds to the fabric in a way that regular dye does not.
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The flowers in my fabric have at least a certain amount of cotton in them.  It was interesting to see how they took the dye very differently than the rest of the fabric.  I mixed up a bath of mostly apricot orange, tan (not a DyeMore color, just a regular Rit liquid), and a little super pink.  The result is a coral that sings fall.

Embrace the uneven

Tessa sweater

I know people get really concerned about how even the dyeing is on their fabric when they dye things.  You stir and you stir the fabric in the pot.  In the end, the dye does what it wants, and I kind of love that.  Perhaps it’s my background in doing batik from junior high-college, but for me, the beauty of dye is in the unpredictability of it.

How do you feel about fabric dye?  Do you use it?  Does its unpredictability scare you or excited you?

14 Comments

    • Thanks Faye. I’m really glad the dye took to the fabric the way it did. Before, the raised effect wasn’t as apparent. I’ve never thought about dye creating texture, but I think it did on this one!

  1. That neckline is so great!!it looks cozy so cozy. I’m such a fan of dresses with tights in winter and I love the casual style of this pattern…on the wish list.,.

  2. mizzsmartypants Reply

    Wow! I love the transformation that the dye gave your dress! I agree that it was boring before. The marbled effect is so cool. Do you have to boil the DyeMore dye? I’ve never tried dying any synthetic fabrics before. I should probably experiment some.

    • Thanks Jennifer! Yes, you definitely want to boil DyeMore. Synthetics won’t take on dye unless it’s superheated…so, no ice dyeing an old acrylic sweater! 😀

  3. The dyed version is so much better! I do have a cheap giant pot that I dedicated to dye, and it’s so much better knowing that I don’t have to hold back for fear of ingesting dye the next time I make pasta. I’m hoping to do some dye refashioning before long. In particular, I have some dye remover that I’d like to play with for that plus overdyeing, though I’m not sure of the dress’s fiber content.

    • Yeah, dyed pasta is probably not a good thing. 😀 Dye remover is one of the coolest products–you can get some really amazing and very unexpected effects, but do swatch it. If it’s a synthetic, the dye remover won’t touch it. I have an amazing floral decor print with an unfortunate 70s colorway that I’ve tried my darndest to alter, but the polyester permanently baked in that avocado ugly.

  4. The thought of dyeing fabric does scare me a bit. I’ve never attempted it myself. I love how your dress turned out though. The finished two-tone look is really good. I love the collar style too, as it looks so snuggly and warm.
    One sentence you wrote made me think though…”My logic is that if something has managed to stay in my stash for such a length of time, ignored, then I must not like it enough to use it”….. I think this can easily be applied to some of my stash and I need to re-evaluate it at some point, though occasionally, I’ve made up something that I’ve had for years in my stash and loved it, but it’s good to re-assess…

    • Thanks Diane! You’re right–sometimes things just get buried and you come upon them again. Dyeing is one of those gambles, and if you’re up for the risk, it can definitely be a fun way to change things up.

  5. csm--carla Reply

    GREAT DYE RESULT! Love that dress! Love the attitude about dye doing its own thing — and that’s OK. I need to adopt that thinking — or else remain frozen and unable to cope with dye experiments! Also love this: “I have this unwritten rule in my sewing room that plain fabrics will always be embellished in some way. Another rule I have is that if something has been in my stash for more than 2 years, it’s fair game to dye/bleach or otherwise alter. My logic is that if something has managed to stay in my stash for such a length of time, ignored, then I must not like it enough to use it.”

    • There’s something to be said about that Carla. Dye is unpredictable, and while swatches can help you understand how a certain colorbath will react with a fabric, it’s not a guarantee that things will go 100% as planned. But if you go into a dye project accepting the adventure of it all, it’ll be fun in the end!

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