Monday 16 November 2009

Blue suit fabric - dyeing

After the excitement of finding what I believe is the fabric used to make the blue suit, I now need to work out how to over-dye it to match it to the screen-used fabric.

I am using a standard machine washing Dylon dye, in the same way I did when I needed to dye the pillow ticking for the Six Trousers I made earlier this year.

First thing you do is put 500g of table salt in the drum of the washing machine (see below, left), before adding the dye (see below, centre). I then adds the fabric (see below, right), put the machine on for a 40 degree wash and cross my fingers!!!

It took me a few attempts to get it to a colour I was happy with. Here are the stages I went though:
This is the un-dyed fabric to see how it started out.

Version 1 - too electric

My first attempt used a mid-colour blue dye, which although it gave a good result, and toned down the bright red pinstripes to somewhere near the correct shade of dark red.
However, it is a bit too electric and vibrant.

Version 2 - far too dark

The next thing I tried was to move to a different shade of blue, tis time using a dye akin to blue denim.
However, this come out shockingly dark, and the pinstripes are almost completely lost. You can just see them in the inset, if you click to enlarge.

Version 3 - on to something
Having failed dismally with the latest attempt, I returned to the colour I used for the first version.
Looking at it I realised that although it was too vivid, it was the right colour, but needed to be toned down. I could do this by using less dye or more fabric, but this would make the resulting colour lighter, and that is not what is needed.

The only route I could take was to mix or pollute the colour with something else to make it give the result I want. I took advise from where I bought the Dylon dye, and found a suitable colour to mix with it.
This part I am keeping to myself regarding how to do this, what colour to use and the proportion in which to mix them.
Suffice to say that the blend I created has given me a very good result.

Here is a stack of the fabrics I dyed, with the original on the bottom, the first attempt (too vivid) in the middle and the blended dye on the top.

Finally, here is a large view of the blended dyed fabric (above) and an image taken by Lisa of one of the real suits on display at one of the various exhibitions (below).

My plan now is to use the skills I have gained in my college course to cut a better suit pattern than the one I got only so far with earlier in the year.
Finding this fabric has certainly given me some incentive to finally make it happen!


  1. How exciting!

    An awesome find indeed.

  2. Will you make lots of brown and blue suits like your five doctor stuff and put them up for sale? And is that a negotiable price?

  3. I need to dye my blue Tennant suit like this... I just don't have my own washing machine.

  4. Do you still have the way too dark fabric? Would you think about selling it?

    1. I do have it. What will you offer? Email me at

  5. Do you still have the too dark fabric