20th Century

Achieving Emily pink

I know that last week, when I blogged about the evilness of pintucking, before life and a lack of internet derailed the blog, I promised to tell you what the pintucks had taught me.

But that’s the wrong way to tell the story of Emily’s dress, because before you can pintuck fabric you have to have the right fabric.

I already told you about the quest to figure out the correct term for the fabric type, and then to find a modern replacement, and that I ended up buying white silk taffeta.  Obviously Emily’s dress is extremely pink, not white.

An extremely pink dress

So, how to get extremely pink fabric?  Dye it!

When I went to dye Emily’s fabric, I was a little scared.  It was a very precise colour, and a LOT of fabric to dye at once.

I kept trying to put it off, but when I looked out the window I noticed that our camellia bush had put out its first bloom of the year, and it was exactly the right shade of pink.  Obviously a good omen.  Time to dye.

Good omens

Unfortunately, in the unhappy computer problems of the last week, I lost my images of the undyed fabric 🙁

So you are just going to have to imagine huge swathes of white taffeta.

Mmmmm….white taffeta…

To prepare the fabric, I prewashed it.  This is a mistake.  I know the dye packet says to, but when you prewash silk it crumples and then doesn’t dye evenly, and I get caught up in the prep and what the dye packet says and forget this, and then have to dry and iron my washed silk before I can dye it.

Do you know how much time it takes to iron 10 metres of silk taffeta that has been washed?  Yeah, total stupid time waster.

For my colour I used a packet of idye pink dye (sidenote: why does idye come in 5 shades of yellow and 7 shades of blue, but only one shade of pink?).  Since I wanted a slightly coral-y pink, I added a bit of yellow dye to my dyepot.

Coral-y pink

Like any sensible dyer, I tried a small piece of my fabric first.  It came out icky sicky cold blue-pink.


So I added a bunch more yellow to my dye pot, and tried again.  Success!

Can I add at this point that ‘trying again’ means dyeing the fabric, hanging it out, waiting for it to dry, ironing it, and then deciding if it will do.  Not a short process.

So, after two whole trials, I was ready to go.

Masses of fabric shoved in dye pot, frantic stirring and turning and trying to get huge swathes of steaming fabric out of boiling dye all at once got dye all over my kitchen.

Pink dye all over everything

And boiling dye for an hour got steam all over my windows.

Not the best view after a dye job!

And the fabric hanging out on my line freaked me out.  It looked ombre!

Eeeek! Ombre pink is not right!

But at least it was a gorgeous shade of ombre pink.  Still very Emily, but with the icky bubble-gum shades taken out.

Once it dried, and I ironed it, it was good.  Still some very slight variants in colour, but the pintucks hide that beautifully.

Pintucked pink loveliness

I guess pintucks aren’t all evil 😉


  1. Oh, and on your poll this week, I miss the option “depends on the purpose of the garment”. I voted for handsewing, but that’s if the purpose of the garment is to be “historical”. If its purpose is to be… historical-looking, for fun, I’d use machine unscrupulously. 😉 And I’m just a beginner costumer, so I’m still figuring out the nuances…

    • LOL! That’s what I hate about polls – you never get all the options that you want. More and more these days I’m doing everything super historical so that I can use it as an historical accurate example if I need to.

  2. Looks beautiful! You’re very ambitious to dye that much fabric in a little dye pot! I would’ve tossed it in the washing machine and hoped.

    • I’ve never had a good result with the washing machine, and my dye pot is almost as big as my washer, so I always use that! Not to mention that I have way more control with the dye pot.

  3. that is such a beautiful pink. oh, now I want to make something pink. you inspire me 🙂

  4. Lovely!That shade of pink is my favorite kind.The peachy or coral pinks with yellow tints instead of blue.The other can be pretty,and a lot of people like it,but peachy pink all the way for me.lol.
    I dyed some silk crepe de chine with turmeric and salt to make it yellow.I got a little bit of the ombre effect,too…i should have used a bigger pot or something.I think maybe next time I’ll put it in a large tub ad then boil my dyes in several large pots and pour it in(I think i’ll slowly put the fabric in so it might dye more evenly).
    I put it in the washing machine,too,to rinse.That doesn’t work for all silks,but it worked for this one.I was thinking of using pleats or ruffles to hide some of unevenness.Unless i decided to try to dye it again..lol.
    I hope I learn how to dye fabric well soon!I love being able to get the exact color I want with the material type I like.

    • I’m with you – not much of a fan of the blue pinks. Orchid looks good on some people, but my complexion is all pink and gold, and doesn’t work with cool pink.

  5. I think your silk is SO much nicer than Emily’s! I think the reason she got the pink is that is didn’t sell in the shop hehehe

  6. Kim says

    This shade of pink was worth all the work. It’s wonderful.

    (The shot of the material on the clothes line is my favorite. I love the way the material came to 1 focal point and “pointed” the eye to the hills in the background. )

  7. I like your shade better. You do have the best skills. I was thinking today that I should buy a big pot for dyeing one day soon (but I’m going to start with ribbon!) and now I’m thinking about it even more…

  8. That is a scrumptious shade of pink. I love the way your pintucks turned out, especially the vertical rows on the bottom skirt which are echoed by that cute pleated ruffle at the hemline.
    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I hope you’ll get some photos of it modeled by a person for us.

  9. Stella says

    That colour is gorgeous! It’s much nicer than the original, but still really close. You must be so pleased.

  10. jackiead says

    Looks like you are having alot of fun with this dress! Can’t wait to see photos of finished dress.

  11. Not really the same pink, but it is always so hard to tell from the photos, and it is still a gorgeous pink I think I would probably be more likely to wear than the ‘Geranium’ pink. Dying fabric is such hard work isn’t it?

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