11.29.2016

Custom Dyed Wool

Hey, remember this FUBAR curtain situation? I've had replacing these on the back burner since writing about them in May. Turns out, it proved extremely difficult to find this same magenta color in wool. I did an exhaustive internet search and ordered quite a few samples, all to no avail. 

Finally, I came to realize that to get the right wool in the bright color I desired, I would need to get the appropriate weight/composite wool first and then have it dyed. Done! 

I bought one yard samples of two weights of  100% white wool from a company in New Hampshire called Dorr Mills -one manufactured by them and another by a separate manufacturer they carry. I bought a full yard so that I could see how the wool hung and so that I could get a shrink test done at the dyers -because sister, don't we all know that wool shrinks when you wash it! 

A 20" square was marked on the wool and then processed and then the shrinkage was calculated from that. The wool I preferred (made by Dorr), which was slightly more expensive at $27.50 a yard, mercifully had less shrinkage than the other which was slightly lighter in weight. Shrinkage was 5% in length and less than that in the other direction. 

It did take me forever to find a source to dye a really large quantity of wool. I've done my fair share of dyeing at home, but this project called for 36 yards of fabric, which was WAY beyond what I could do in the bathtub in my yard.  I found Alverado Dye House through the great people at Discount Fabrics. I brought Alverado a piece of my shredded silk and they ran two color samples -one for each wool and a shrink test at the same time. 

Each test was 35$ and they matched the color perfectly, and I mean perfectly. The actually dyeing cost is by the pound, with a minimum charge of 140$. My job cost 166$. 

Btw, I want to note that I have NO affiliation with ANY of these companies, I mention them because I have found them to be good sources.  
  
So after I confirmed that I could get the color right and determined what the shrinkage would be, I ordered the wool -a whopping 36 yards.

There was one more step in this process. In order to get the best consistency, the dyeing company dyes straight yardage in 5 yard increments -sewn end to end into a loop. This was fine for me because I needed a shrunk length of 3.75 yards per panel. 


Instead of measuring out my yardage each time, I cut two lengths of non-stretchable string and used them to mark the distance for each cut. 

I sewed the fabric end to end in an easily visible thread using the longest zigzag stitch my machine could muster. 


I picked up the wool yesterday and am now beginning the process of removing the looping stitches. As a cost saving and recycling measure, I am going to try to use the lining, which still appears to be in good shape, from the otherwise trashed silk curtains. I am expecting that it will take some time to carefully deconstruct those. 

On cost, I am coming in a bit over what I had hoped for in my initial estimate. I had wanted to spend about 24$ a yard. Dorr Mills gave me a 10% discount because my quantity was so large (36 yards), so that brought me down to 24.75$ a yard. But added to that was the cost of dyeing and samples (236$). Plus, I ended up needing to buy a bit more yardage because of shrinkage and the width of the wool bolts. I had estimated 25 yards but in the end needed 36. So far I have spent $1,127 for this project. Certainly not a paltry sum but far lower than the heart attack inducing cost of a custom curtain made by someone else for windows of this size.

All in all, I am excited for these curtains. I think the wool will be far more durable to the crazy kitty and be well worth the effort, and I'm glad I was able to reproduce the color of the silk curtains because I just loved them so.

Now let's just get these bad boys sewn.

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