Saturday, January 21, 2012

All the Colors in Your Mind...

I am SO excited about this project. One of the little banes of my existence in the little brick house, besides no dishwasher or washing machine (which will always take priority), has been our sofa.

Gypsy Slow Down

The fabric was probably once a cream but is now a dingy gray spotted with chocolate and wine stains. I'm not a domestic laundry goddess but bleaching didn't help. The cushions are seperate from the back of the sofa and they sag sag sag sag sag. I have stuffed the cushions with pillow form, cotton and in a moment of desperation, beach towels. But they continue to deflate no matter what waifs of people sit on them.

My aunt Dawn and I were sitting on the sofa drinking a glass of wine and I was talking about how I need a new one. I'm always slightly embarrassed of the sofa, lest people think I like the stains and the sag. She suggested I just fix the one I have. When we lived in Paris together I remember seeing her dye shirts to change up the color and their sofa cover, a pretty dark gray. We had just come from Anthropology where we saw lots of project ideas in their decorations so our creative juices were flowing. She suggested I dye each cushion cover a different color. Brilliant. I went online where they have TONS of beautiful colors and picked out too many.

Gypsy Slow Down

The first order of bussiness was to find a washing machine to do this in. Our laundry mat has huge signs that say "NO DYE." This is too bad since that would be easiest. The second place I thought of was my parent's house. I don't have the best record with projects from my childhood; I once ironed on my mom's ceder chest and ruined it, there is still my hair dye staining the bathroom floor and once I put a hot teapot on the dining room table, my dad's pride and joy, which didn't end well for the table. So I was ready to completely understand if my dad would not be cool with this. Much to my great surprise he was (I did get reminded of my past mistakes but I was too grateful to care). I made plans to visit on my day off and the project got underway.

Gypsy Slow Down

The first color my mom and I chose was a fuchsia, called Violet if you are going to look it up. This one was a bottle dye (they have liquid or powder) so we filled up the washing machine with hot water (just enough to soak the cover) and poured in the dye. Then we dampened our cover and submerged it in the water. The fabric needs to soak for 30 minutes so once the washing machine fills up the best thing to do is turn it off and let it sit. After 30 minutes turn the cycle to rinse and let the fabric rinse and drain. Then...VIOLA!

Cate Photography

For the record, the fuchsia one turned out the best so I highly recommend this color and all red based colors. Next we tried blue and left it to sit and then green and so on. By this point, we had eaten lunch, looked at the beautiful jewelry from my sister Lauren's new business, made plans to have a Tapas party and had our short story writing class (which I am teaching to my sister's Cate and Nan- they are so talented). We realized that doing one load at a time (since we need six) was going to take all day. So we filled up the laundry room sink and soaked a cover in there. This works fine as you can then move the cover to the washing machine after the 30 mins and run it on the rinse cycle.

Cate Photography

We were hesitant to dry the covers in the dryer since the fabric is a strange denim like thing but it didn't shrink and was much quicker then when we sat them outside and they didn't try after four hours.

At the end of the day, the covers were dyed six different colors and the sofa looks beautiful!!

Gypsy Slow Down

Along the way we learned that:

1. Red based dyes work best, blue based dyes are weaker. We are going to have to re-do the green and brown, they came out spotty and not in a cool tye-dye sort of way. I also tried this beautiful turqoise but because the covers were dark to begin with, it barely tinted it. This might work great on white cotton. Not dirty denim.

2. Dying doesn't ruin your washing machine, much to my father's relief, and if you run a load of clorox afterwards the parts are barely tinted.

3. The more dye the better the color. Even two boxes would have been fine for one of our covers, I mixed the yellow and orange together and it made the most beautiful mustardy orange. The dyes are inexpensive so you don't feel bad about spending the money.

4. In the end I got a new couch for about $20!

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