I Live to Dye

Ever heard the saying “Use it up, wear it out, make do with or do without”? How about, “Necessity is the mother of Invention”? Or,  “I live to dye, I dye to live. The more I live the more I dye, the more I dye the more I live”?  Well, now you have. Keep those words in mind, and read on.

Since last spring, we thought Katya was going to undergo major and risky surgery this November. We spent the whole summer dreading it, and making no plans for November through the end of summer, thinking we’d either be busy caring for a convalescing Katya, or planning her funeral. But when we found out that the surgery might not be needed after all, and certainly shouldn’t be done now, suddenly the whole autumn, winter, and spring opened up. And I suddenly went from having no plans for the winter to having a great many.004

One of those activities is playing in a Christmas performance at a college. It’s a big deal, at least to me. Esp. because I have a stack of music to learn in not even five weeks. Since the decision to let me perform was left to my violin teacher’s discretion, it’s not just my reputation on the line. At any rate, it’s a dress-up event, and since it’s an orchestra, everyone has to look coordinated. Suits for the guys, and all-black for the ladies. Not the sort of thing you show up for in black jeans and a t-shirt if you can at all help it.007

I did not have a black dress, and my mother, who is taking the part of “Necessity” in this little story, did not have the 30+ dollars it would have taken to buy me one.  And since I was now christened “Invention,” it was up to me to find a way to make do.  My mother, who also is playing the role of “Practical-and-Hardworking-Housewife” sent me to the sewing room to reflect upon my misfortunes, and mend some clothes while I was at it. Wonder of wonders, I found this dress, purchased some time before from a thrift-shop, waiting to have a small hole mended. 001

It was the right fit, and looked pretty cute. Just one problem: it’s colour. The obvious solution was to dye it. (See where this is going?) 002

Having nothing to lose, except a dress I didn’t wear anyways, the boxes of dye were duly purchased, the internet consulted, and the dye bath readied. Which is how I discovered that I don’t really like dyeing. Keeping watch over my caldron by night (out of doors, on the grill, to keep the fumes down) and then spending the better part of an hour squatting in the bathtub, rinsing dye out of a dress is not my idea of fun.  But the dress is now irrevocably black. 016

It’s… alright. Not as pretty as I would have hoped, but it fits. I think it looked better before it was dyed, actually. Now it’s a sort of dusty black with red undertones. Which is fine, but not with the sweater I was going to wear with it, which is a true inky black.


Because of the red-undertones of the dress, and the faint redish-grey tint the white stitching took on, I can’t use the yellow-hued original buttons. So I will have to buy some new ones. I’m thinking black or silver, though I might end up with pearlescent.

See how the stitching the stands out on the skirt? Some of can be picked out, but not all of it. Do you think that it would work to colour over the white stitching with a black sharpie?


So despite fitting well, and being quite comfortable due to elastic smocked panel in the back, it isn’t perfect.  But, it’ll do.   And that’s the point, isn’t it?To make do.


2 thoughts on “I Live to Dye

  1. I once dyed a long white dress blue, but just as with your dress, the stitches remained white. However, I never really thought it mattered. Your dress being black though I think it might show more. But I think that silver or pearlescent buttons would help! And I guess that you will be up on a stage and the audience might very well be enough far away that they will not notice the stitches :-). And I think the dress looks nice enough – with a top and maybe a little scarf or something it will look nice!

    (I also remember when I dyed a pair of white shorts dark blue…..only they didn’t absorb the color right and instead became purple!)


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