WARNING TO MY INCREDIBLY DISCERNING READERSHIP: This post has nothing to do with historical sewing, and everything to do with things that aren't historical sewing.
'Tis the season of Cosplay, and I'm up to the body part of your choice in the final stages of making two costumes. I'm in the home stretch (oh, please sewing gods, let it be so), but things got off to a rocky start. In the interest of whining about That Which Can Not Be Changed, and motivated slightly by the genuine urge to help others avoid the same mistake, I'd like to make a Costuming Public Service Announcement:
DO NOT and I repeat in all caps for fans of repetitive prose DO NOT purchase fabric that is not what you need with the intention of somehow magicking it into what you do need.
Go ahead. Laugh. I'll wait here.
Isn't this just the most sage, incredibly insightful advice ever? I know, it's common sense. Or rather, it should be common sense, but if life has taught me anything (spoiler: it hasn't), it's that sense is far from common. In this case, the lesson was annoying more than painful, but on the off-chance that there is another soul out there who is as trusting and naive as I am, I hope that my cautionary tale saves them the same frustration.
Yes, I price-shopped, and realized that I could save LITERALLY TENS OF CENTS by buying two textiles in wildly inappropriate colors, and dying it to match the material I actually wanted. Tens! And I've dyed fabric before (from a light color to a slightly darker color), plus, I dye my hair all the time! What's the big deal?? So, with a generous amount of smugness over my "thrifty" intentions, I purchased the fabric. Everything was dyed with the dregs of dye packets and bottles that I already owned. So thrifty! So frugal! It didn't quite go as expected, so then, I purchased some dye. Still thrifty! And some of it was on sale, so totally still a bit frugal!
Then, I purchased some MORE dye.
Then, I purchased some different dye.
Then, one night, I found myself sweating over my long-suffering washing machine, waiting for the optimal moment to dump my very last bottle of red dye into the drum so that it could mingle Santeria-style with some mumbled prayers and a cupful of the wrong kind of vinegar. It was well after midnight, but since the lower southeastern US is currently under a broad-spectrum weather curse (your choice: deadly floods, or triple-digit heat), my porch was only slightly cooler than the surface of the sun. In went the dye, in went the thrice-dyed "100% cotton" gauze, and for the fourth time in as many weeks, I found myself sitting on top of a running washer, contemplating my life choices.
Verdict: Not good, Threadlette. Not good at all.
In an effort to save myself the expense of paying an extra $1.60/yard for 3 yards of actually RED fabric, I spent $12 on dye. End result? Instead of red gauze, I have really really almost kind-of maybe mauve gauze that cost me the equivalent of an extra $4 per yard. Four dollars. And let's not factor in the bloody hours that I've spent on this little science project from creative hell, because that may actually sting a little.
Yes, I am somewhat pacified by the realization that it is a lot of fun to say "mauve gauze". But only somewhat.
I've learned my lesson. From now on, I'll only be dying large batches of fabric if the alternative is entirely cost-prohibitive, and/or the colors required aren't the two worst possible colors to try and dye fabric (red and black), and/or I don't have a vested interest in whatever unholy abomination emerges from my washing machine. Or maybe I'll forget all about this little lesson in three weeks. You just never really know.
Onward and upward!