I’m in the middle of making a 1770’s period costume for events with my DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) chapter. I’m using Simplicity 4092 as a base pattern and I’ll be making detail embellishments to it that I’ve gleaned from my copy of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail.
The main fabric of my dress is a soft khaki green with an embroidered floral print. Embroidery was huge back then. The center of the bodice is a tone-on-tone ivory with a pretty sheen to it.
The pattern calls for 7-inch wide lace to be used on the sleeve flounces and all I could find was white in that width when I really needed ivory. I initially sewed one of the white flounces on the cuff and didn’t realize it at first (I should have, but I didn’t) but the white looked like crap with the rest of the dress. The light in my sewing room is yellow so you can’t tell this lace is really white.
Last night a lightbulb went off to dye the lace in brewed tea. I had heard of this somewhere around the interwebs and decided to give it a try. So I brewed two family size tea bags in two cups of water and let them steep for a few minutes until I liked the color.
Then I soaked a second piece of lace for the other sleeve in the tea and worked it with my hands until it looked like the lace had even color throughout. I rinsed the lace in cool water to stop the dye process, rolled it in a towel to remove most of the water, and let it dry overnight hanging over a door. Side-by-side, you can see the difference from the original.
The tea dye gave a nice soft ivory effect to the lace and it really matched the tone-on-tone inset fabric.
I repeated the same process with the white lace that was already attached to the sleeve (totally too lazy to remove it from the dress first) and gingerly dipped the lace, holding the green fabric out of the way, and dyed it as well. Perfect!
I love the result. Hubs took the picture before I was ready but I’m really liking my progress.
Smart solution…and probably true to the times 🙂 It’s always a challenge to do period clothing – yours looks great! Love the dyed lace – it’s very pretty!
Have fun, and best of luck with your project from NCDAR!
Thank you! Even though the fit is a little uncomfortable through the front of the armseyes, it really did turn out beautiful and I’m very pleased with it.