During the last month, I have been 4,000 km away from home in the bra-making capital of the world - Hamilton, Ontario - learning from the world's most knowledgeable bra-maker, none other than the Fairy Bra Mother herself, Beverly Johnson.
It's been wonderful to be learning so much, yet it's also been odd to be out of my sewing room and working in a different environment.
Despite sitting behind a sewing machine most days, there's been little time to sew my own designs, this is partly due to the hectic schedule at class, but also because I recently had a bra in mind but was unable to find the right colour lace and elastics.
Port red lace and grey charmeuse was the colour combination that I had in mind but without burgundy elastics, lace, rings and sliders, channeling or fold over elastic, I felt I wouldn't be able to do it justice. So I had to get out my dye pot.
I don't have a lot of dyeing experience, apart from a disappointing result trying to dye some jeans which stayed their original colour, although the rubber door seal on my washing machine did change colour - very dramatically. I suppose I've therefore avoided dyeing my bra-making materials, but well, you have to face your fears don't you?
So here's what I did: A quarter teaspoon of burgundy dye crystals from a small sachet of Dylon dye was put in the bottom of an old mug. A small splash of boiling water was added and I mixed it into a paste. I then left it alone for 5 minutes. This process was not on the instructions, but Beverley had recommended activating the crystals in this way so as to reduce to risk of stippling or flecking on the finished elastics.
After 5 minutes, I added the paste to a pan, added a pint of boiling water, some salt and added my fabrics. The rings and sliders were placed in a tea strainer and added too. A tea strainer is a great way to hold your rings and sliders in a safe place, and to avoid the risk of them disappearing down the plug hole when you empty your pot. The whole thing was heated to barely a simmer, and after about 20 minutes it was 'cooked' enough.
I removed the elastics, lace and channeling and rinsed this under cold water and rinsed it until the water ran clear. I left the rings and sliders in there for longer, to let the dye penetrate the plastic coating and to get a better colour match.
That's really all there was to it. What had I been so worried about??
The mug, pan, spoon and any other implements used for dyeing your fabrics should not be used for anything else. I suppose this sounds pretty obvious, but it's a good idea to label these items and place them somewhere away from your usual cooking apparatus so someone else doesn't use them by mistake.
I made up my first cup from cut and sew, and covered it in grey charmeuse intersected with the newly dyed burgundy lace. It's truly stunning, but not very Spring-like. So, after all this, I've decided that this bra needs to wait to until Fall to be finished, and I'll go back to my pale spring/summer shades.
However, I am very enamored of this segmented balconette cup, and I'm sure you'll be seeing more of it in various guises in the future.