Fabric Dye Adventures and the Revenge of the Trimmetra

I decided to sleep away all of Friday instead of working on coses (proud of me, I really am) so I ended up finishing (most of) Symmetra’s dress on Saturday. All that I have left to do is attach the sleeves and bind the neckline and sleeves with bias tape. So altogether not bad.

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I’m also seriously proud of myself for managing to somehow bullshit through fabric dying my dress. I was really terrified to dye the fabric, and the good thing is that RIT synthetic dye works for polyester (my neoprene is a polyester spandex blend). The extra good thing is that polyester is really difficult to dye, so keeping my fabric in the dye bath for extra time didn’t do anything bad.

I first tested a few swatches, paper towel and then scrap pieces of my neoprene, and quickly realized that the fabric looks a lot darker while wet (duh). All of my swatches were still damp, but I knew the darkest colors I could get, and definitely wouldn’t get, so that helped to not freak me out. (Also hurray for the pot I’m using, curtsy of my mom who sacrificed more stuff to the cosplay gods).

Finally I bit the bullet and dumped my fabric in. I ended up having to dye it twice because it ended up too light the first time around, but I’m happy with it. Yes, it’s a bit blotchy in places, but for my first dye attempt, and with a synthetic fabric, and with EXTREME PANIC, and with an ombre of all things, I’m proud of how it turned out!

I thought the scariest part of the dress was complete. I was so, so, so wrong. Enter the return of the Trimmetra.

The bad part was that it took me a literal three hours to position the trim correctly on the dress, before I even got to sew anything. Yep. You read that correctly. Three. Whole. Hours.

What I originally thought would be a simple and painless process of just pulling the edges of the dress to rest inside the completed trim like a taco ended up involving a lot of swearing, fusible interfacing, pins, and an excessive but necessary amount of tape.

My original plan of attack was this – take the trim, which in its full Trimmetra glory was the trim for both the right and wrong side of the dress sewn together around where the dress would be hemmed, and understitched onto the wrong side of the trim (i.e. the side of the trim meant for the underside of the dress). This would do the amazing job of keeping the trim from rolling to the front and thus exposing my now fabulously hidden seam, and helping me trim both sides of the dress in one go without having to worry about hand stitching anything.

To those of you who are still confused, I basically did the cheating version of a bias tape binding – sandwiching a raw edge in bias tape and sewing through all the layers, so you catch the bias tape on one side, the main fabric, and the bias tape on the other side. My method just involved making my own custom trim for the edges of Symmetra’s dress and then sewing in on, cheating bias tape style.

Except oh my gosh, sewing this was the easy part. Positioning it was a nightmare and a half.

My original plan for positioning the trim was to use narrow double sided fusible interfacing that came in a roll like ribbon. I fused it to the trim no problem, but I quickly realized that it took a disgusting amount of heat to fuse it to the dress through the vinyl trim, and that the bonding strength wasn’t high enough to handle all the manhandling required to position the trim further after fusing a section.

I also made the mistake (which I originally thought was a good idea) to position the trim on the center front of the dress first. Let me tell you – stuffing neoprene fabric into a turned point of trim is a nightmare and a half, and it doesn’t really work. Even when it works, it doesn’t stay in place long enough to position the rest of the trim.

Finally, I did the smart thing and positioned the trim from the back flaps and to the center. I held the front of the trim down with tape and then positioned the trim on the wrong side and pinned it through the front (after which I could remove the tape). And after that I went sew crazy.

The trim ended up rather wrinkly on the front so I want to try to fix that if I have time (though I really doubt that I will before Katsucon). Turns out that since the trim doesn’t stretch as much on the bottom, it takes away from the waist definition I was getting from the dress before so I plan on taking the dress in a little drastically at the waist (if I have time after finishing my other coses for Katsucon). I also want to add some darts to the back to make it fit more closely, as I could assess fit much better after sewing in the black portions of the bodice top.

That’s all for today folks! I can’t believe I wrote an entire post on sewing on trim. This is what my life is now. *falls into hell filled with trim* Please leave a comment and follow my blog if you’d like to see more! And also let me know any requests you have for posts 🙂

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