Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sewing: Tie-Dye Tissue Hem Skirt (Tutorial)

Where has the summer gone? I can't believe we're at the end of July already! At the same time, seeing all the back-to-school supplies stocking the aisles gives me a little flutter. I love the back-to-school season! I was wondering what happend to June because it seems a bit of a blur, and then I remembered it was packed pretty full with guest posting! So fun! If you didn't see my guest post for Delia Creates during her Color Your Summer II series (I made this Rainbow Wrap Skirt for the series last year but was hosted by Kojo Designs) I wanted to share it with you here. It's not too late to tie-dye a fun outfit for summer...

I had been happily anticipating this series for all the creativity that comes with it. It's so much fun to see what all these talented women produce to add some color to the summer. I personally cannot believe all Delia and Kirstin and contributing themselves--wow!

For me, nothing says summer like a saturated tie-dye. So relaxed, so carefree, so whither-thou-mayest. I love the classic randomly tied pattern. The result looks like sun circles or the patterns sunlight makes on water.

My girls, especially Audrey, love wearing tie-dye too. And purple, or violet, just happens to be a favorite color in our household. Not too difficult to pick that color in the ROYGBIV rainbow.

So to color our summer, we tie-dyed some cotton t-shirts and some knit cotton fabric out of which I stitched a matching tissue hem skirt.

A nice, soft outfit for lounging, or twirling, or complementing the cast Scarlett just acquired after a bit too much bouncing this summer (she thankfully had it removed a few weeks ago!).

The skirt is essentially a circle skirt without the hem cut circular. Instead the square is left intact for the "tissue" effect. I created two layers this way and stacked them so the corners of one line up with the sides of the other for more interest.

I'm sharing a tutorial for tie-dying the fabric and t-shirts and sewing the skirt. Maybe you could use a bit of color saturation and twirly-ness. Here's to summer!


You will need:
  • Cotton t-shirts (mine were either 100% cotton or 60% cotton and 40% polyester--the 100% cotton took the dye the best)
  • Cotton knit fabric (mine was 95% cotton and 5% spandex and it worked great!)
  • A bunch of rubber bands
  • Dye (I used a combination of Rit dye and Dylon, both purchased at Joann)

To start, randomly tie rubber bands around your shirts and fabric. Random really is better with this but there is no such thing as a mistake.

The more "ties" the better.  The dye won't penetrate where the bands are so the fabric will remain white there.

Follow the directions on your dye to make the dye bath. I used a stove top method: I took a giant stock pot, filled it with enough water for the fabric to swirl around comfortably, added 1 cup of SALT, and heated it until just before boiling. Then I turned off the heat, mixed in the violet Rit dye, and dunked the fabric.

You should stir the fabric until it all takes the dye and then let it sit in the dye bath, stirring occasionally. I let this first "dip" soak for about an hour.

Pull the material out of the dye bath onto a stainless cookie sheet (or some other surface that won't stain) and then take the material to the sink and RINSE it really well. At this point you could remove all the rubber bands and rinse and be done, but I did a double dip, so I removed about a third of the rubber bands...

...so that my next dye dip would affect those white areas more intensely than the rest of the dyed fabric.

Then I added more rubber bands (more is more) to maintain the initial violet color in some areas. I also overlapped the bands on some of the white areas to mix it up a bit. (After the fact I realized that were I to do this again I would have the circles overlapping more because I like the effect.)

While rinsing and tying I turned the heat on to make certain the water was really hot again. Then I added the Purple Rit and Intense Violet Dylon to the mixture. (You could of course start with clear water and salt again, but I wanted to conserve the water and thought it wouldn't be bad to have a mixture of the colors.)

I dunked all of the fabric again as before, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes this time.

Pull all the fabric out again, rinse well, and undo the rubber bands. (If you haven't donned a pair of rubber gloves yet in this process now would be a good time!) I would recommend washing your dyed garments or material a couple times now before wearing to reduce any dye transfer. I washed once with detergent and cold water and once with cold water and vinegar as an extra effort to set the color. Between the salt and the vinegar these colors should stay pretty well but separate washing a few more times is probably a good idea.


This skirt is constructed very similarly to a circle skirt (Dana has a great circle skirt tutorial on MADE). To make a tissue hem skirt you will leave the square intact and simply cut the waist hole, but the size of the square is the tricky part. I will explain how I came up with it.

You will need:
  • two squares of tie-dyed cotton knit fabric to the measurements you determine via the chart below
  • thread
  • wide elastic (I used 1 1/2") the length of your waist measurement
I wanted two offset layers on my skirt, about 1.5" different in length. I came up with my shorter square using the calculations in the table below and then cut the second square 3" bigger. So one 24" square and one 27" square.

To find the dimensions of your squares, you can start with your "Desired Average Hem Length" and add the "Waist Radius" to it and double that number. So in my example, I could take the average length of 12" and add 3" to get 15" and then double that to 30". But, that would mean a shorter flat side of the square hitting at 12" but the point would hang at about 19", which is too long in my opinion. (Those diagonals are so long! Check out this calculator to see the difference between the length of a square's side and it's diagonal.) So I think you are better off just cutting a square double the Desired Average Hem Length, which will give you sides a bit shorter and points a bit longer. I hope that makes sense. It's a bit of art and science! Take a look at this chart for a bit of direction and an example of how I worked it all out for the first, or top square, which is the shorter of the two.

Here is a link to an online calculator for finding the diagonal of a square.

So, once you have waded through the math, or just decided to wing it, to come up with your two fabric squares, fold them in quarters. (Fold in half and then fold in half again so you have smaller squares 1/4 the size of your original, not that anyone is measuring...).

Using the radius calculation in the table above, measure a few points from the inside corner of this folded fabric, down to draw an arc, and cut a wedge out of the inside corner. (See this tutorial on MADE for more details on cutting the inside waist hole for a circle skirt). Do this on both of your folded squares.

Now, unfold the squares to their full size and layer them: smaller on top of larger, waist holes aligned, and turn the corners so the top points cross the center of the bottom sides as shown in the photo below. (Photo is a bit cropped but hopefully you get the idea!)

Pin the layered waist opening together.

Then, cut a piece of elastic the length of your waist circumference (including the added .5" which will be seam allowance) and stitch the raw ends together using a .5" seam allowance. Open out the seam allowance and stitch the seam ends down using a zig zag stitch. Pin the elastic to your waist opening (divide the elastic and the waist opening in quarters and pin at those points) with the wrong side of the skirt to the right side of the elastic.

Using a side zigzag stitch, top stitch the skirt to the elastic stretching the elastic to fit as you are sewing.

This results in a rather "raw" seam of the skirt to the elastic, which seems to suit this project with it's unfinished hem.

There you have it! A tie-dye tissue hem skirt!

Double layer and everything! 

1 comment:

CrochetBlogger said...

What a great tutorial for a classic project that can always be made fun again! Great job on the skirt!!

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