In my never ending search for beautiful fabrics I often look at materials and wonder if I could create something similar. Particularly some of the abstract patterns and ink blot style prints that you see in places like Mint Velvet, Ted Baker and Karen Millen. These dresses by Donna Karen (right) and Bottega Veneta (left) are just AMAZING.
I have a beautiful dress from All Saints that has been the inspiration for this particular project. One colour bleeds into the other on a really fine silk – beautiful. The tshirt from Urban Outfitters at the bottom is another good example of this look.
So here is my first attempt as discharge printing. Discharge paste is essentially a dye remover. It works as you would imagine bleach would, but without damaging the fabric. It works best on natural fibres so I chose a coupe of different types of silk. A dark teal crepe (£4 / metre from Fabworks) and quite a fine navy raw silk also from Fabworks (£12 / metre).
I bought discharge paste (£9.99) and 3 colours of fabric dye (£4.50 each) from Rainbow Silks who were really helpful over the phone with advice to a novice.
I spread my crepe fabric out on the drive on a backing cloth to protect it from dirt. I applied the discharge paste in broad stokes and then sponged it along the edges with water to thin it down. At this point you can’t really see what you are doing as it is just a clear gel that doesn’t have any immediate effect. Once I was done, I put a heater on it to speed up the drying process.
When it’s dry you just iron it for about 3 minutes. This is the first time you really see the effects of the discharge paste. I have to say you need a really thick layer of paste to be effective. I really splattered this fabric with a weakened version of the paste but it had very little effect when watered down.
Often dyes do not go back to white, but to their base colour. Sometimes it’s tan, beige or a reddish colour. After I had washed out the discharge paste, I then applied a hand painted line of deep red which bled into the wet fabric. It gives it a lovely hand painted watercolour look. And there’s my gorgeous daughter in the background painting her own masterpiece.