Painted Purple

So this week’s challenge for Project Run & Play was COLOR.  We were supposed to pick a color and design an outfit around that color.

My idea for this outfit came pretty quickly to me.  There are two things that I’ve been DYING (hint hint) to try.  One was painting fabric and the other was dyeing fabric.  So this was the perfect opportunity to give them both a try!

The color I chose to use was purple which is kind of surprising, because it’s not one I’m often drawn too.  I like the color just fine, but I’m pretty much a blue girl.  But when I imagined the dress I wanted to make, a dusty purple was the only one I thought would work.  So here it is, my painted and dyed purple outfit for Yuki.  A bit vintage and a touch of modern.  I think it works.

So first was the cardigan.  This was the project that I actually started and practically finished during KCWC.  When I first saw Amy’s daughters painted rainbow shirt, I knew I had to try these watercolor like transparent paints!  I loved the soft muted look and how the colors bled together.  They are Setacolor Transparent Fabric Paints.  When I bought them I had a completely different project in mind, but this seemed like the perfect chance to test them out and get familiar with the process.  Now I have a TON of different things I want to try with them!

Anyways, I used some cheap white knit fabric and used a water soluble pen to make lines one inch apart.  Then I mixed my paint, added water, and started painting lines.  I wanted it to have a very handpainted feel, so I like the abnormalities, though I did have to be pretty careful about not being too heavy with the paint because it bled a lot.  It’s a good idea to test this out on scrap fabric till you get the color and water amount just right.

After I finished painting the stripes, I just dunked the neck and arm cuff fabric into the leftover paint to get a more solid, but still handpainted look.

After it dried, I heat set it and cut out my pattern pieces using Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee pattern with adjustments to make it into a cardigan.  It came together pretty quickly, the button placket being the most time consuming part.  I really want to make this pattern again soon, but just as a shirt next time.  I’m still very hesitant to try sewing with knits, but this pattern is so straightforward, it’s a good one to practice with.

For the dress, my inspiration came from this ridiculous pile of trims and doilies I have.

For some reason, every time I see some of this cute trim, I think I should get some to add to a skirt or dress and then I NEVER use it.  I remember hearing that different fabrics, laces and trims pick up color from dyes differently even when put in the same dye bath for the exact same amount of time.  So I thought it’d be fun to construct a dress first and then dye it and be surprised by the results.


The dress is made out of cheap unbleached muslin and the trims were all off white.  I sewed the dress together using off-white and white thread because that’s just what I had (I guess I really don’t sew with purple very often).  But just a note, if you are going to do a similar project, you should use thread that is close to the color you will be dying it.  Thread doesn’t dye, so if you will be able to see all of your stitching very clearly if you dye your garment a dark color (you can see the white thread along the bottom of the dress in the next picture).


I like how it came out, but honestly I thought there would be more variation in color.  It almost all looks entirely the same except for one trim.  And the most disappointing part was that I used this awesome doily from Japan that I’ve had FOREVER to accent the dress, but since it’s the exact same color as the rest of the dress, you can barely see it at all.  I’m tempted to try and paint it with some bleach or color remover to see if I can get it to stand out more.  Thoughts?  I’d hate to try it and totally screw up the dress.

I have to say, I was SOOOO SCARED to dye this dress.  Like, my heart was pounding, scared as I was about to dip the dress in the dye.  The results just seem so permanent and uncontrollable.  I guess that’s what I get for making the dress first and then dyeing it.  My tip for dyeing fabric, is also test out the dye on a few scraps before your actual fabric.  And remember that the color will come out lighter once it’s dried.

Next week is “Let’s Go To the Movies,” an outfit inspired by a movie.  I have an idea, but it’s kind of a large project to take on and we’re going to be out of town all weekend.  Sorry if it’s quiet around here.  I’ll likely be focusing my time and efforts on sewing.

Have a great weekend!!  We’re going CAMPING!  First trip of the season 🙂


167 thoughts on “Painted Purple

  1. I like this before & after it was dyed ~ I don’t think I’d touch the doily, it looks beautiful & it’s already attached to the dress (I wouldn’t want to ruin the dress)
    You never cease to amaze me with the amount of little girl clothing you sew, where do you find all the time?

  2. Incredible! Gorgeous! The watercolor stripes are brilliant and the dress is beautiful. My head is spinning with the possibilities for that watercolor paint, too. I’m pretty sure I need some RIGHT NOW. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  3. What a lovely entry! This is so adorable, you did a great job. I love the idea for the handpainted lines, I´ll try this out. For kcwc I also tried some shibori, that was a big surprise.

    … and your Yuki is so sweet…

    Enim sou.

    • For the dress I used good ol Rit dye in a bucket. For the Setacolor paints, you heat set it, so you’re supposed to iron it for 5 minutes. I ironed it for awhile, but certainly not five minutes all over. Some of the pieces I threw in the dryer hoping that it’d get hot enough to heat set, but I don’t know – I haven’t washed it yet. So we’ll see! Eek :[

  4. it turned out BEAUTIFULLY!! the purple is the perfect tone and it looks so comfy on yuki. i’m dying over the hem, too – gorgeous. and oh yes, i need to try that watercolor fabric paint technique ASAP.

  5. I found your blog recently, went through all the archives, and had to comment on this post– this outfit is really so beautiful. I wish I had two of this, one for each of my girls! I adore the dress and the cardigan is absolutely perfect. I don’t sew but I certainly admire your work. 🙂

  6. The cardigan is great, and I love how the lines turned out. The dress blows me away — so beautiful! You are so talented and creative, thanks for sharing your work!

  7. Thats just gorgeous! Personally I’m not sure about the doily. I like the look with the dress by itself, but with all the purple and other lace it’s lots of detail. I wouldn’t change it, but if you do it again, maybe a smaller one.

  8. Thanks so much for the great feedback about the doily and the whole outfit!! I’m just going to leave the doily/dress as it is, mostly because I’m lazy AND I don’t want to screw up all that work. Lesson learned for next time!

  9. The cardigan is perfect! 🙂 Love the dyed items. I was surprised the first time I dyed something that the thread doesn’t dye either. 🙂 I think I’d leave the doily, but then again I’m not very good/patient at unpicking. . . .

  10. Really really LOVE this dress. Looks so complicated but yet so simple! Just a note on threads… I believe if you used a cotton thread rather than a polyester, it would have taken on the dye similarly to the fabric. However, polyester thread doesn’t dye like cotton does as it’s a plastic rather than a plant-based fibre.

    I’m really tempted to try something similar to this, but dying scares me too!

    • Thank you! What you said about the thread makes a lot of sense. Most of the threads I use are polyester or at least coated in polyester. Dyeing fabric can be pretty intimidating, but just read all the directions and the other helpful hints you can find online. Then start with a small project. I think making the dress and then dyeing it was pretty risky, but you could always dye the fabric first and then sew it together after. And always do a few test strips before you dye your fabric. You’ll get an idea of how dark the dye is and how long you want to leave the fabric in for. You should go for it!!

  11. My mother used to stitch our clothes when we were kids… Unfortunately, I’m not really into stitching… But I’m one of those people who collects stuff just because they are so pretty and it just sits in the cupboard gathering dust… maybe its time to use up the ribbons and glossy wedding invitation cards 🙂

    I’ve always been fascinated by batik… hopefully, I’ll be able to give it a try in this lifetime…

    Enjoyed the post – I love the dresses… They are so cute… and these photographs are amazing!

  12. So adorable…my daughter is now 16 , this makes me miss those early years when I could dress her up and “tried” to sew her some clothes. Your work is marvelous and your daughter is too.

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  14. You’ve most likely heard this already, but the outfit (and your daughter) is (are) cute! I’m not a big fan of the color purple either, but it really works well with the cardigan and dress. This was a nice project to read about. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  15. Oh my God!!!! That outfit is sooo creative, I love what you did with the doilies (I would have never thought of that!)

    • Thank you! But hmm . . . hard to say since I collected the trims and doily over a long period of time. I used about 1/2 a yard of muslin which was $1.50. I’ll estimate all the trims at $3-4 total? The dye was leftover from other projects, so I don’t really consider that as part of the cost, but if you are wondering, I used Rit dye and I think they are like $3 a box. Considering making one?

      • Just considering making children’s clothes in general for my little one… it would be a brand new adventure.

  16. I love love love this!! And I wouldn’t worry about it not coming out exactly as planned. That’s how art is sometimes! And the threads on the bottom being white actually look great too. Professional looking garments will have topstitching, and sometimes done with an accent color. Because some of the ruffles came out white, it looks like you accented it with the white thread on purpose. It’s beautiful. And purple is my favorite color…;)

  17. Awesome, so beautiful. I can’t sew at all, not even a stitch so this is incredibly impressive to me, that you actually made that whole outfit. I think the trim work looks amazing, and I definitely would not mess with it. Looks perfect just the way it is.

  18. Very cute. I would fiddle with the doily if you want it to stand out. Could you add some bead or button embellishments to draw attention to it? How about using your paints to darken it a bit? Perhaps pink or blue to alter the tonality a bit? If your lace is made from different fabric contents (poly vs cotton vs rayon vs silk) they absorb differently. I suspect yours were mostly the same content that they didn’t absorb very differently. It came off beautifully though.

    Adorable patterns and a most successful application of the challenge. I adore the cardigan, and am tempted by those paints!

    • Wow, great suggestions! In the end, my laziness won out and I’m not going to touch it, but it’s great to keep in mind for future projects!

  19. i have one 6 years old daughter, i imagine her wearing that dress, i guess all cute little girls will wear that awesome dress will turn very beautiful..very nice color your choose my daughter loves this kind of color

  20. So beautiful! The colour is lovely and your skills are inspiring. You mentioned sewing the trims to the fabric before dying it, right? So, how did you prevent the scalloped lace trim from being dyed? Was it simply a natural resistance to being coloured or did you coat it somehow first?

  21. This is so darling – and your little girl is too cute!! I actually really like the tone-on-tone look of the doily accent. There is still enough textural difference that it stands out. Beautiful outfit … would cost zillions at the baby boutiques 😉

  22. WOW! You are such a gifted artist! Thank you for sharing your magic with us. Congratulations on being Fresh Pressed

  23. Lovely! I actually like the dress better in ivory/white – on its own … But the cardigan goes perfectly with the purple dress and makes the outfit complete – and the little model is just adorable! Great post!

  24. How absolutely adorable! The dress and the model Yuki. I am very impressed with your talent. And I like being able to see the stitching at the bottom. I think it gives it some more vintage-look detail, the we-don’t-buy-store-dresses look. I’m not sure about touching up the doily. I can understand how it’s not standing out as much as it could, but even you went too far in the other direction, it would detract from the rest of the dress in my opinion. Maybe some subtle, or contrasting, yarn\thread\fiber intertwined into it to call attention to it that could also be easily removed or even changed for different occasions? You asked so that’s why I’m putting this out there, because I think the outfit is just,well, adorable as it is!

  25. I loved the post….every thing about it…..the experimenting ,the creativity, the outcome….the dress and the cardigan both are lovely …but most of all the cute little angel….

  26. Awww….what a cutie! I hope I have the knack for sewing things! I’m sure it’s easy to learn. Maybe one day I’ll craigslist a sewing machine and see where it takes me.

    I like the dress in its off-white color, too. Good job!

    • Ooh, I think using the paint to cover up stains is a great idea! These paints are pretty transparent, so maybe something more opaque would cover it better – but you could still try it and not have to worry about ruining anything since it’s already got spots. 🙂

  27. Loved this post. Loved the simplicity of the design with which you’ve conveyed a complex task. If some of the pics had been posted as a collage, might have been easier to follow on the screen. Loved it!

  28. I adore this! I only remember about 3% of what I learned in junior high about sewing 😦 But this inspires me to learn and make things for my nieces! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  29. I have a Husqvarna Lily sewing machine that can make 30 different stitches and the only time I used it was when I made curtains for our apartment. This post just inspires me to sew more. I think both the dress and the cardigan turned out fabulous. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  30. This is just beautiful! I have recently started dabbling in sewing. I cannot wait to get to this point. Truly inspiring!

  31. Um this outfit is absolutely adorable and I wish I had one for my little girl!!!! Purple is definitely a favorite color of mine. You make this sound so easy to make! You have talent! Great post 🙂

  32. Saw you on Freshly Pressed…Congrats! This is simply lovely! It looks like you found it in a high-end children’s boutique. I wouldn’t fret so much about the doily. Bravo to you for taking the risk. I think your end result is almost as beautiful as your little girl! 🙂

  33. Beautiful dress! Thank you for explaining what you did in detail, it made it much easier to understand. Baby girl looks so cute in that outfit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. I started recently sewing, and am so delighted to follow your blog as it’s the first sewing blog I know of. Yuki is sooooooooooooooooooooooo adorable, which makes the whole unbearable sewing process that much more delightful with your mini model displaying her joy of your creations. Sooooo cute! 😀

    Thank you so much for sharing. 😀


    • Thank you! You will quickly realize that there is an AMAZING world of sewing /crafting blogs written by super talented people who provide endless inspiration. If you want, I can point you to a few. But have fun and don’t give up!

      • Wooo!! Really, with just as cute of a model ;D. I recently purchased Sari fabric lilac on sale and wanted to make a Chinese Sari. Somehow I’ll figure that out. I figured that the details like button pins, sleeves, and collar can be Chinese style with the Sari fabric draping across. 😀 I recently bought a serger too, used for $100, Singer, and it works beautifully after dusting it, oiling it. and the like. Woo! Looking forward to seeing more of your amazing creations for Yuki! Or even yourself?

        Looking forward to the recommendations. Soooo exciting!


  35. This outfit is entirely adorable! I love how you incorporated all the different trims and doilies. Sorry if I missed it, but did you draft the patterns or what? =D

  36. I no longer sew clothes since my children and grand children are mostly grown and gone, but I stumbled on this and was delighted. What a darling outfit, and Yuki is heart stopingly gorgeous. Look out mom!

  37. WOW WOW WOW WOW! I’m in shock from the response to this post and my blog after being “freshly pressed.” Thank you soooo much to all of you who took the time to stop by and comment, or like or even subscribe! I’m going to try and go through and respond to those of you who asked specific questions, but until then – THANK YOU ALL!

  38. Oh and for those of you who mentioned that they are just learning to sew, or want to learn how to sew – I am EXTREMELY excited for you! It has been so much fun the last and I’ve been introduced to a huge community of amazing and talented people and it’s been so rewarding seeing my daughter wear things that I’ve made for her with love. I wish you luck and encourage you to use the online sewing community as a resource and just have fun with it! 🙂

  39. Oh Cherie, I am totally amazed by your talent.
    This dress is so so so beautiful, tht I wish it was mine, although I actually don’t like purple!! But this dress is too beautiful to resist. The cardigan is absolutely adorable, as well!!! I will absolutely try this awesome paint!

    I wish you would share your dress pattern, I would even like to pay for it.

    Be still, my heart……!!!!!

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