Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wicked Cabbage - or almost

Aaaaaahhhh - so DragonCon is behind me (sniff) and now I have time for leisure again. So while the Wicked cabbage skirt turned out awesomely, it wasn't quite what I was hoping for. The last blog left off with the making and trimming of the layers. I think it was 21 layers of tulle/net, ranging from 12-13" to 5-5.5" wide. I should have made the top layers smaller, so that there wasn't a 7-inch difference between the top and bottom. If I were to do it over, I would make the top layer 10" or less. As I had feared, the bottom 4 or 5 layers turn to the inside when the skirt is worn, thus rubbing against the wearer's legs and not providing the sharp finish at the bottom. I have not remedied that situation yet. But here's how I got to the current point.

I had to decide how far down from the waistline to begin the frills. I knew the bodice would have a wide peplum that would cover the blank part near the waist - so I just needed to decide how wide the peplum would be so I would know how much space to leave above the first frill. I think I left a little too much, but I can always shorten the base skirt at the waist and put in a new casing. I ended up about 5 inches from the top of the waistband of the base skirt.
First layer pinned to skirt, seam pointed down

First frill added to base skirt
Starting at the top, I sewed each frill along the base lines I had drawn on the skirt. Each frill was sewn with the seam allowance pointing down, so you wouldn't see it on top of the frill. This also helps the frill stand better, so I've read. Not all layers are straight across and not all layers go all the way around. It is against my engineering nature to make things so random, but I managed. I worked my way down to the smallest frill near the bottom of the skirt. The first few layers go on quite well, but once you get to the 7th or 8th, the volume of the thing starts to fight back. I ended up using twine and safety pins to "squish" the layers together to make it more managable under the sewing machine. By the end, I was starting to question my sanity. The last layer was sewn with not the kindest of words.
Sewing the frills down
Sewing frills - closer to finished now

Frills being pinned to skirt
Pinning the layers to the skirt was probably the most tedious and time consuming part. I'm glad I had 1-inch intervals drawn onto the skirt. I should have made them 1/2-inch intervals, but I put good use to the ones I had. With this net and tulle, you need to pin A LOT to keep the frill along the line you want. I placed the skirt on my sewing board, to keep from pinning other parts of the skirt. I would have loved a wider surface so I could pin more at one time before having to shift the skirt to the next section. It would have been much easier to have each line drawn on for each frill - some were slanted, some were not all the way around, some doubled back on themselves - and just pin along the line instead of making new lines as I went. But that would have required more planning than I was willing to do at the time. Since this was a big experiment, I didn't know how to plan.

Frill pinned to skirt
Three hoop layers were inserted in the top third of the frills, middle, and bottom third. I ended up using the top and bottom hoop layer only due to time constraints. I will likely add the middle hoop later. I used plastic strapping from the lumber department at Home Depot for cheap "boning". I wasn't willing to cough up the bucks for steel until I knew how this would turn out. I cut the strapping in half - to about 1/4" width. If there are snags on the boning it will catch on the net, so be sure to sand down the uneven spots before inserting it in the casing. I couldn't get the boning to lay flat (another point for steel no doubt), but I don't think it really matters in this case. The real trouble came in trying to adjust the frill layer to make a level hoop. This is not easily explained, and I've not solved the problem yet, but you can the see "worst-case" uneven hoop layer in the picture. I got pretty close to even by adjusting the gathers around the casing. This may be solved by adding the casing AFTER the frill has been gathered, but I added the casing first. I will say it is a pain to insert the boning into this much casing, especially since it is gathered. I imagine the edge of the frill may stand out more if the boning would lay flat in the casing, or perhaps a 1/8" wide boning rather than 1/4". Another thing to test.

Uneven plastic hoop before adjusting tension
Adjusted hoop layer

The skirt could stand up on its own - even without the boning in. Quite frankly, it would make a cute skirt upside down and can even be worn without the hoops for a softer look. I told my sister I might add a casing to the bottom so it could be worn either way. If I don't have to do something weird to it for the roll-under problem, that is.
Completed skirt, upside down
There is still a little of the base skirt left at the bottom (maybe and inch or two in some places) and I've not decided whether to cut that off or add a casing for a hoop. As I said, the bottom of the skirt folds inward and it's not supposed to do that. I need to prevent the roll-in with some structural stability at the bottom or tie the frills together and pull them up with tension. Something to work on.
So with a few corrections needed, the skirt is complete. And pretty darn cute if I do say so myself. I put more hours into this skirt than any other costume I've made. I spent so much time with it this summer, I almost felt like it was my child. I was sad to give it away to my sister, but was so thrilled that she loved it. Next post will include pics of the top (work in progress) and completed (sort-of) costume.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The First Wicked Costume

The first costume of the Wicked trio is "the cabbage". The crazy tutu-like skirt is where I am starting, as I have no idea how to make it. I have collected quite a pile of green tulle and net to make the skirt. Since I didn't know where to start, I began researching the construction of a pancake tutu. This skirt will need to stand out straight from the body, similar to a tutu, and has gradually decreasing widths in the layers of ruffles.
"The Cabbage" from Wicked
For tutu information, I found the Ballet Talk blog on Live Journal and These were by far the best resources for construction tips. You don't want the no-sew tutu videos. The main pointers I learned were: use the right fabric - stiff net made for tutus; plan to put many, many hours into the construction; a hoop layer will likely be needed; press each layer after it is gathered and before you sew it down.

I did not buy the tutu fabric. It was cost prohibitive for me as this skirt requires much more fabric than a tutu. I'm going with tulle and nylon net that I bought at JoAnn and Hancock Fabric. I hope it works out. I tested various spray starches, homemade starch, and fabric stiffener to see if I could make the fabric stiffer. Nothing worked well enough for the trouble in the initial phases as a flat piece of fabric. I have read in the blogs about using spray starch on constructed tutus, so maybe it works better after the garment is made. Gathering and pressing the layers seem to improve the stiffness. I used seven different fabrics in four colors of green: 3 colors of tulle and 4 colors of net.
A stack of layer pieces
I knew I would need a base to sew the layers of ruffles, so I made a simple straight skirt out of cotton. I made a draw-string waist since the frills would start about hip level (wouldn't have frills above the hip area) and I didn't want an opening in the back of the skirt for a zipper or such. This way, the skirt should go over the hips well enough and the gathering at the waist from the drawstring will be hidden by the peplum of the bodice. After the base skirt was constructed, I drew lines at 1-inch intervals, starting from the waist, that I will use as a guide for sewing the frills. The lines aren't perfectly even at the sides due to the flare of fabric at the hips, but I don't think it will matter in the end.
Base skirt with 1-inch guide lines
Based on standard widths of pancake tutus, I decided to cut the top layer at 13 inches. One-half inch will be lost as seam allowance to the base layer, so the top layer will end up being 12.5 inches. I cut each layer of fabric at 1/2-inch intervals from 13 inches down to 5 inches. 13, 12.5, 12, 11.5, ... 6.5, 6, 5.5, and 5. And to make matters more complicated, many of the layers do not go all the way around, so I added 5 additional layers to fill in and made some layers shorter than others. Some of the layers are also at angles rather than straight around, so I'll probably end up drawing some additional guidelines on the skirt to incorporate slanted layers.

To calculate the length of material needed for each layer, I measured set lengths of fabric before and after gathering. Once I picked the tightest gather I could get on the ruffler foot, I used that ratio to calculate how long each layer should be. For instance, if a 60-inch strip of fabric was reduced to 8.5 inches after gathering, I would use a ratio of 7. I then measured the actual cirmcumference of the base skirt along the drawn reference lines. Each frill layer would need to be the circumference measurement multiplied by the gathering ratio. So if my skirt circumference was 45 inches, the frill would need to be 315 inches.
Frill layer going through the ruffler foot
Each layer was about 5 or 6 pieces sewn into one length, with each piece cut across the width of the fabric rather then the length. I found the cutting easier this way. Since I wasn't overly concerned about perfect width for each layer, I opted for an easier cutting method for the tulle and net. I would fold the fabric in half along the length, then fold in half two more times to make a narrow length of fabric to cut. Then I would measure the width of the frill layer as I cut. Not very accurate, so don't cut this way if you don't want slight variations in the width of your frills. This tulle and net was difficult to line up and cut, so I chose sanity over perfection. Most of the frill layers are 5-6 pieces sewn together. I labeled each layer so I could keep track easily.
Pile of frill layers prior to gathering
I decided to add a ribbon edge to 4 of the tulle layers. I used satin ribbon folded over. I ran 10-lb fishing line inside the ribbon as I sewed as this helps the edge of the tulle stand out.
Satin ribbon sewn with fishing line inside
Ribbon trimmed tulle (pressed on the right and unpressed on the left)
I used bias tape on 3 layers to use as a hoop casing. The upper most hoop layer is the 5th from the top (which is the 11-inch layer) and the outer edge of the bias tape is about 8 inches from the inside edge of the frill layer. I sewed the casing on before I gathered the frill, as I thought this would give the layer the most volume. I've read that some people use strips of net as the casing, but I thought the net was more difficult to pin and sew. I've also seen instructions to sew the casing after the frill is gathered. That may be more appropriate if you want your frill to be flatter. The second hoop casing is on the 8-inch layer and the third is on the 6-inch layer. Each casing layer used 3 packs of 4-yard, single fold, bias tape, so 9 packs in total. I have no idea if I will need 3 hoop layers, but I know it would be easier to add the casing now rather than later.
Bias tape pinned to net for hoop casing
Gathering the frills with the ruffler foot was super fast and easy. After they were all gathered, I pressed each layer. Now they are ready to sew on to the base skirt.
Pressing the frills, which are pinned down to the ironing board

Pile of pressed frill layers ready to sew to base skirt

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Start of Something Wicked

So I have wanted to make costumes of the Citizens of Emerald City ever since I saw Wicked. The costumes are A-ma-zing. So I decided to make a group of costumes for 2011 Dragon*Con. As my sister and sister-in-law are also going to D*Con, they are being forced to wear these wacky green costumes. I love willing participants. I am starting this post before I have finished any of the costumes, mostly as a journal for myself. There weren't many blog posts or pictorals about home made costumes from Wicked, aside from the main characters.

So the first step was acquiring decent photos of the costumes from the musical. Not so easy since folks seem infatuated with the costumes of the main characters rather than glorious supporting cast. I managed to find enough to get started, even though some were from productions in other countries (not the Broadway production). I also found a few pics of handmade costumes, but few descriptions of construction. I watched several online interviews with the designer, Susan Hilferty, and read a few articles about her and the design. There's even a book out there with her conceptual costume designs.

I knew many many months ago that I would want to make these costumes, so I have been collecting green fabrics for a while. All the costumes require several types and colors of green fabric, and buying it all at once would have been too much of a shock to the checking account. So I spent several months watching sales at the retail stores, combing through posts on ebay, and digging in the bins at thrift stores. I've also been collecting green ribbon, trim, and thread, as well as any other crazy green costume thing I could find like gloves and hats.

I ended up with green satin in a few colors, lots and lots of tulle and net, chiffon, taffeta, and sparkle mesh. Not to mention the pieces I had in my stash already AND the green taffeta prom dress that fits my S-I-L perfectly! So the next step was to decide which costumes to make and determine if any commercial patterns would get me close to the design. Since the prom dress fits my S-I-L, I didn't have to make a dress for her. I decided to alter the hemline of the dress and add a voluminous petticoat that would show on one side. Lots of ruffles will be needed for that. I will also bead the bodice and I hope to make a sheer top to be worn underneath.

My sister liked the "cabbage" costume. No pattern to help me out with the skirt. And that will require tons of tulle and net. I will make the bodice from a pattern (I hope).

I haven't decided yet what I will wear. But there is so much to chose from!!! I will make separate posts about construction as it progresses. I have to work quickly though, Dragon*Con is just around the corner.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quick Victorian-ish walking skirt

So I keep trying to come up with a few pieces to start a Steampunk costume and haven't made it there yet. I've seen a lot of simple-looking skirts that would make an excellent base for a Steampunk costume when paired with other great pieces and props. I've seen a lot of "ready to wear" Steampunk/Victorian costumes with these ruffle-bottom skirts, so I thought I would make one. It is vaguely reminiscent of a walking skirt, especially on an American frontier setting. Remember, this isn't supposed to be historically accurate - just fun and easy.

I had about 3 yards of a suit-like fabric with a subtle plaid pattern that I paid $5 for at a thrift store. At the very least, I could probably get $5 worth of do-it-yourself lessons from the experiment right? So I started with a skirt pattern that I have 3 copies of. McCalls 4090 - full ren-type skirt with 6 gores. I wanted the front of the skirt to be flat and the back to look full, in an effort to create a bustle look without the work and without the undergarments. This is supposed to be something simple - and an experiment. This may have turned out a little better if I had drafted my own pattern instead of altering one, but I'm not ready for that.

So the first alteration was the length of the skirt. I wanted to add a 6-inch ruffle to the bottom, so I took off the difference for my height as well as for the ruffle. (I also had to make sure I had enough fabric leftover to actually make the ruffle. Although a ruffle in a complimentary solid color might also look nice.) Since I wanted the front panel to be one piece and have the seams fall at the sides, I added several inches to the waist and hip of the front pattern piece. I also changed the front piece to resemble a that of a straight skirt - straight bottom hem and straight sides down from the widest point of the hip. (I figured I could add darts at the waist line if the front panel didn't drape well.) I decided not to alter the side seams of the middle panels as I was just doing this for fun with cheap fabric. It was tough getting the lengths of all three pieces to match, but I ended up cutting a little bit off all of them anyway. When in doubt, make it longer.

I didn't worry too much about lining up the striped pattern on the fabric. I got close on the top of the side seams (since most folks won't see the bottom), as it's hard to get patterns lined up on a bias cut. Something to think about next time if I decide it bothers me. I did notice that the stripes near the top of the front piece aren't even with the waistband. Perhaps a few darts are needed after all - if I feel up to fixing the hem. The back three panels were gathered to make the "fullness" in the back. I think next time I would add more panels, or make the three panels I used wider. For the ruffle, I cut 4 strips of fabric 8 inches wide and did a narrow hem on the bottom. After experimenting with the settings on my ruffler foot, I decided on a ruffle ratio of approximately 1.5. With a 100" hem on the skirt, I would need about 150 inches of fabric to ruffle. I finished the edge of the fabric before I ruffled.

The intention is to add a waist cincher, ruffly shirt, and maybe a bolero jacket, along with my collected steampunk props and accessories. (The cincher and shirt in the picture are just what I had on hand - not part of the intended finished product.) I think it turned out well, for a $5 investment. I would likely make it fuller in the back next time, and maybe try two layers of ruffles on the bottom. I'm also thinking of a trim at the top of the ruffle.

I also don't know how to cut the pattern pieces to get the stripes at the correct angle, but a little thinking next time might help. Now to find some fabric for a waist cincher.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Corset break

So I really needed a little break from the corset, so I decided to make a waist cincher. I've always wanted to see what one would look like on me. I used the pattern from Simplicity 2331. Don't know how durable it will be, but it was easy and cheap. The green fabric is a medium weight twill-type that was given to me by my sister-in-law and the liner fabric was less than $1 from the thrift store. Free plastic boning from Home Depot's lumber binding. Including the cost of eyelets, interfacing, ribbon, and thread, this probably cost me less than $5 to make since I already had those things. I may add a modesty panel behind the lacing.

I didn't really have a specific costume in mind and since I couldn't decide between a dress or a shirt to go under the waist cincher, I went with something super easy - Butterick 4685. The brown fabric was already in my stash, and I think it came from the thrift store. I shortened the top by an inch and didn't put elastic in the sleeves. Super easy and has better shape than the elastic tops associated with ren/gypsy costume patterns I've used. And you don't need bias tape like some do. Bias tape would make a nice trim for this shirt though.

I shortened a skirt given to me by my sister and added a new waistband. Threw in some belts from the thrift store and I'm on my way to some sort of costume - scout, steampunk bad-ass, wench? Who knows.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making a Corset is Easy (Ha) - Part I

How to make a corset - Simplicity 9769
Part I - Mock-Up(s)

Step 1. Research
From the many corset-making sessions I've attended, I believed making a fitted corset was like climbing Mt. Everest alone, with no shoes. I wasn't far off. The construction itself isn't that bad, but getting the right fit is a chore. I knew from the start that I wanted as much information as possible before I made my own. So I'll include some of the many resources I used along the way.

I chose the Simplicity 9769 corset pattern since folks seem to think it is the least historically inaccurate of the corset patterns from the Big 4 pattern makers. And I already had it and probably paid $0.99 for it. I figured it would be good practice before I spent significantly more on a fancy pattern such as Laughing Moon. After choosing the pattern I looked it up on the Pattern Review website. Very helpful advice on this corset. The pattern does indeed run way too big, so be prepared to make one several sizes smaller than you think you need.

I also checked out the uber helpful Corset Makers page on Live Journal. The indexed topics are great. They even have a topic just for this Simplicity pattern. Farthingales also has some tips about this pattern. Your Wardrobe Unlock'd has a great corset construction tutorial. I didn't draft my own pattern, but some of the construction advice was helpful. I used several other sources along the way, but you should do your own searches as well as there is a great deal of information out there about making corsets. Also consider the purpose of your corset. Mine is being made as an undergarment for costuming, so no one will be seeing it.

There are many sources for corset supplies. I've purchased boning and eyelets from eBay before. Chain sewing stores have limited supplies (don't get one-piece eyelets) and don't carry steel boning or busks. This time, since I needed a busk, I ordered from Corset Making Supplies. The shipping is higher than I like, but I was able to get eyelets (grommets), boning, boning tips, and busks into one shipping charge - making it comparable to piece-meal puchases on eBay.  Walmart and Michaels often have two-piece eyelets that work well when set properly. Be sure to research the proper method of setting eyelets/grommets. Get yourself an awl if you don't have one. Also, if you plan to wear this corset as outerwear, be wary of the store-bought black eyelets. I have found that the "paint" comes off too easily when setting them. I ordered black eyelets from Corset Making Supplies to see if theirs are better.

Step 2. Mock-up
Everyone recommends making a mock-up out of muslin, also called a toile. Even though I knew the pattern was going to be too big, and probably too short, I decided to make the mock-up from the size I thought it would be, just for practice. Cheap thrift-store muslin, free plastic banding for bones, and casings from muslin fabric. I did end up making my own re-usable eyelet strips from sturdy canvas-like fabric. I can use them over and over with other mock-ups. I did not put the busk in to the first mock-up. I just stitched the front pieces together with a tight zig-zag stitch. To save twill tape for this first run, I just used 1" strips of the muslin fabric for the bone casings. My final version will likely include a lining fabric and won't need casings, but it is good to practice.

The lumber at Home Depot is strapped down with plastic banding that makes excellent plastic boning. They just throw it away and are willing to let you have however much you want. I used sharp scissors from our garage to cut the pieces to length and then in half (they are 5/8" wide). I have heard that people use this in their bodices, and sometimes in their corsets if they don't need it too curvy. Heavy cable ties are also a cheap substitute for steel boning. Do your research about which boning you need to use in the final version.

Based on advice at the above-referenced sites, I did not flat-fell the seams. I pressed them to the appropriate side according to the instructions, and trimmed them to 1/8". The casings will then be centered on the seam line and I won't have to worry about matching up stitching lines. I did double stitch (lock stitch) each seam using 2 different stitch lengths. Another tip I read was to use spring steel boning at the back, near the eyelets, instead of spiral steel.

So the mock-up was waaaaaayyyyyyy too big. But I did discover that I made a common mistake - I had a few pieces bottom side up. The pattern pieces do look "blocky" so be sure to mark the top of each piece of the pattern as you cut them. I did this by making a mark with a red pen in the seam allowance at the top of each piece.

For the next mock-up, I decided to take my measurements and compare them with the actual measurement on the pattern piece (exlcuding the seam allowances). I decided how much "squish" I had in my chest and waist and how much extra could come off each measurement. After I compared that to the actual pattern measurements, I decided to go down 2 sizes in the chest and 1 size in the waist/hips. My goal was not to take many inches off my waist. I simply wanted to make a costuming undergarment that will smooth things out. I was not interested in being uncomfortable just to make my waist smaller. I could have taken much more off the waist, but opted for comfort this time.

I also needed to add 2 inches to the pattern. The first mock-up hit right above my hips and right at my nipples. (I don't consider myself long-waisted, but just about every top pattern I've used has to be lengthened.) I cut the pattern pieces at the waist line (see note below) and spread them 2 inches, taping the 2 pieces to blank pattern paper. I then re-drew the pattern lines to fit the two different sizes I am using.

*Note on waist line - The waist line is marked only on the center front and center back pieces. It is helpful to mark the waist line on all pieces if you are going to alter it. A tip I found on-line is to take the center front piece (13) and place the front piece (14) on top, matching notches and making sure grain lines are parallel. Then mark the waist line on piece 14. Continue with each pattern piece. When you get to the center back piece (19) redraw the waist line based on piece 18. For some reason, the waist lines don't seem to match up on 13 and 19. Maybe it's just me?

Even though my final version will have a lining and I won't need the bone casings, I decided to practice with the twill tape on this mock-up. I also made this mock-up with the busk, which wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. In preparation for this corset, I ordered two busks - a 12" and a 14". I had a feeling I would want a longer corset so I got one that was longer than the pattern required. The second mock-up will include the 12" busk as I read that a shorter one can be used when there is boning adjacent to the busk. So hopefully I'll be able to use the short one and save the longer one for next time. I also added a piece of twine inside the bias tape on the upper edge, in an attempt to tighten down the bust part. I can see how this would be helpful if the top poked out a little. But it doesn't help much when the top is way too big.

This mock-up was still too big in the top. Laced all the way together, I could still stand to take 2" off the bust. I've read that a 2-inch gap is ideal between the eyelets, so that would mean an additional 4" to take off. The waist and hips fit, but didn't squish my waist at all - which is comfy, but I'll probably have to take a couple of inches off the waist/hips to make up for the take-up in the chest. I also decided to add two boning channels to each side - one directly under the breast and one to the side. I've heard this is necessary if you need to give the girls a lift. I've no idea how much a difference the spiral steel bones will make versus the plastic bones in the amount of support in this area, but I am not cutting the steel until I'm certain how long they will be.

So - next step is to dart the current mock-up to take-up the extra inches, add additional bones casings for the girls, and hope this time it fits!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Feathers to Dye For

Cheap, non-toxic way to dye natural feathers

When I decided to make my own mask for my autumn dryad costume, I decided on a paper mache base with colored feathers. As a vegetarian, it was hard for me to buy standard craft or store feathers, as they involve the killing of the bird. Fortunately, eBay and Etsy had a few folks selling naturally-shed, cruelty-free feathers. Often from pets or egg-laying birds, these feathers are natural in color and vary in size and pattern and are collected when the bird molts. As molting is seasonal, I had to allow some extra time to collect the feathers I wanted as they aren't always available. I did check with local wildlife experts to confirm that it is illegal to collect feathers of wild birds (hawks, owls, songbirds, shore birds, etc) even if you find them on the ground.

So I started out with all sorts of feathers - pigeon, turkey, peacock, guinea fowl, chicken - in various colors (white, cream, brown, black, grey) and patterns (stripes, dots, mottled). I did not wash the feathers before I dyed them. Some feather sellers wash them for you, but I don't think mine were. I found different opinions on the internet about pros and cons of washing the feathers. Some say the natural oils in the feathers are good, some say a wash in a mild detergent helps the dye set. I took the easy way in my test batch and skipped the washing. My feathers turned out fine.

I decided to try the kool-aid and vinegar approach to dyeing the feathers. It's cheaper than the chemical dyes and fabric dyes. I played around with the mixture of kool-aid and water/vinegar mixture to use the least amount possible.

What you'll need:
White vinegar
Shallow microwavable pan or dish (I used a casserole dish)
Kool-aid in your preferred colors
Ground tumeric (if you want yellow)
Chop sticks or other stirring device

Fill the shallow dish about 1/3 full of water and add a splash of vinegar. Stir in the Kool-aid until dissolved. The more Kool-aid you use, the stronger the color will be. You can also mix the colors for different shades.

Add the feathers one at a time into the Kool-aid bath. **If you don't need the fluffy part of the feather, save yourself some time and hassle and cut it off. The color in the fluffy part is more likely to be splotchy** Use the chop sticks to immerse the feather and work in the color. Be sure to get the air bubbles out. Add additional feathers until the surface of the water is covered. You can try to add layers of feathers to save time, just be sure that all the feathers are wet and in contact with the dye.

Microwave the feathers for 2 minutes. Gently aggitate/stir them to make sure they are still in contact with the dye - especially if there are a lot in the pan. Let rest for 2 minutes, then microwave again for 2 minutes. Let the feathers soak until they are the color you want. The longer they soak, the deeper the color. I gently rinsed my feathers in a strainer, but I don't know that you have to do this. The rinse was helpful with the tumeric dye since the tumeric didn't completely dissolve in the water and the rinse helps reduce the strong smell. You can use the dye again, but the color may be lighter unless you add some more Kool-aid. The dye will get lighter with each batch.

Gently pat the feathers to remove excess moisture. Use a hair dryer to dry the feathers completely and re-fluff. If the feather looks like it is separating, gently run your fingers down the spine while using the hair dryer. If you don't need the fluffy part, drying goes much faster without it. I did not need the fluffy part for my mask and could have saved a ton of time if I had cut it off before dyeing.

The very dark parts of the feather will not dye well. I liked the stripes and dots and variation in color with the natural feathers. I had to mix in some black cherry with the green kool-aid to get a somewhat muted color and not the crazy bright color. To make brown, I would mix in a different color with a used batch of dye that was getting too light.