Monday, July 6, 2009

How-to: Spray Paint a Figure Skating Dress

Remember how I ruined a figure skating dress for Ice Girl last fall? Well, I did it right over the weekend.

If you’ve read the previous post, you know that constructing the figure skating dress before spraying with Simply Spray fabric paint is a disaster. There’s no way to prevent the dye from spotting through to the panties and back – I don’t care how well you cut out tag board shields.

Here’s how I spray-dyed the figure skating dress:
  1. Cut out all of the pieces from white lycra.
  2. Cover an old folding table with an even older sheet. Ice Dad, a wizard with an iron, ironed the sheet flat using steam and spray.
  3. Let the sheet dry for 30 minutes (the steam and spray need to evaporate).
  4. Set out the pieces, matching notches and hems.
  5. Spread out the pieces just a bit so they’re not touching, but so the seamlines and hems match up. Make sure they're flat, flat flat. No wrinkles.
  6. Spray with Simply Spray fabric paint in an arc starting off the fabric and ending off the fabric.
  7. Allow to dry for a good 24 hours (the package says 1 hour, but I had trouble with this last fall).
  8. Sew as usual.

The fabric is stiffer than unpainted lycra, but it looks really pretty. I used 1 ½ cans on this dress.

  • Shake the can away from the fabric or you’ll have spots.
  • Don’t use all of the paint in the can – it spots as you finish the can.
  • Start and end off the fabric or you’ll have spots.
  • Dry well or you’ll have weird shadow images from whatever is behind slightly damp fabric.
  • Paint and dry on a perfectly flat surface.
  • Be careful to wear an apron or old clothes and spray in an area that you don’t mind covering with fabric dye spots.
  • Don’t spray in the wind or where leaves, twigs, and bugs will fall on your fabric while it’s drying.
Update: Oh, you're going to just love this. You might notice something missing in the photos above. Yep. The panties. I thought I'd outwit the system and allow the dress pieces to dry while I sewed the bodice and the panties. The bodice and panties were both white. I watched Ice Girl skate yesterday at a competition and noticed the white panties peeking out from under the dress. Er. They looked like...well...underpants. Geez. I'm such a dork. I should have sprayed the panties along with the dress. After a fit of guilty giggles and lots of head smacks, I debated for a minute or two about asking Ice Girl to change dresses between the spins event and the jumps event. However, there was little time between the two events, so I decided not to tell her. Yeah. Not my best parenting moment, I'm sure. However, Ice Girl didn't seem to mind when my friend told on me. Ice Girl just shrugged it off and told me she liked the dress anyway.

Bottom line: Again, allow me to be your horrible warning. Um. Paint the panties while you're spraying the rest of the dress. Duh, Ice Mom.


c.m. said...

Hi Icemom,

I have been waiting for you to update with your progress on this topic ever since I read your first post about it!

I have been making competition dresses for more than five years now and I have spent at least three of them tyring to master this technique of color-fade skating dresses as they are very popular with the skaters. Many dressmakers don't bother with it and the ones who do are reluctant to share their technique with others. However, I will be happy to share with you what I have learned.

Instead of prepackaged spray paint, I use an airbrush setup consisting of a Paasche single action airbrush and a portable compressor. The major disadvantage to this is that the initial investment is rather high , however you can achieve a very controlled spray and you have a choice of what paint to use. As for paint (and believe me, I have tried everything under the sun) I have yet to find anything that works better than the Jacquard Dye-na-flo line: the colors are very vibrant, can be diluted, and are very permanent once you heat set them with an iron. In addition, they leave no stiff or rough feeling on fabric; I use them on very delicate silk chiffon skirts and they barely alter the feel of the fabric.

You are absoultely right about keeping the fabric smooth during the application. Even the tiniest wrinkle or snag will show up when you apply the paint. I have discovered that it is easier to get an even application if you tack the material to a cork board or an easel so it is perpendicular to the floor, this way you can apply a perpendicular spray to the material.

What I have discovered works best is partially constructing the dress (Body, lining and panties basted (not serged)on. I adjust my dress form so it is a size bigger than the dress and I wrap it in ceran wrap. I iron out the dress and stretch ot onto the dress form and I apply the paint using a very light mist (20 psi) with very little paint going through the brush. I go over areas to make them darker, this takes about an hour depending on the complexity of the design. After the paint is dry, I take the dress off the form and remove the panties from the bodice. To paint the skirt, I iron it out the individual pieces (just as you did) and I tack them flat onto a cork board which is then mounted on an easel. Once everything is dry and heat set, I sew the skirt into the rest of the dress. If you don't have a dress form, the cork board can be used for the entire dress. It is not quite as easy as using a form, but it is the next best thing.

Keep up the good work with the blog and the dresses! As someone with close relatives who ice skate, I find your entries to be very insightful.

Ice Mom said...

Wow, c.m. Very helpful. I search Craig's List every so often to find a used airbrush so I can experiment. Now when I find one, I'll know what to do! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The spray turned out lovely, Ice Mom! Great job! I have cans and cans of that spray paint when it went on clearance at our local fabric store.. I might have to try this!

And thanks c.m for the great airbrushing tips! I got an airbrush for Christmas and have been too afraid to try it on dresses.

Mom of 4 Girls said...

Hi Ice Mom.

I love your site and have used your tips to make sock buns and blade soakers; my girls love both. Thanks for tons of good info for those of us who are new to the sport!

What do you do with Ice Girl's skate dresses when she grows out of them? Do you ever sell them on eBay or anything? (I'm interested!)

Ice Mom said...

Hi, Mom of 4.

Thank you for the kind words - I'm glad that the sock bun and soakers worked out for you!

I would love to sell off some of Ice Girl's dresses; however, she blinks back tears every time I suggest it.

When did I turn into such a sucker?

lori in canada said...

Hi there,
I am also in the same situation. I have been making dresses for over 15 years and my clients are asking for airbrush. It scares me to death but I am trying. I have tried using a spray bottle of paint with poor results. I also have a pencil airbrush with a .35mm needle, it is good for fine details. I have recently purchased a paint gun with a 1.0mm needle and for larger areas the coverage is great it can also so smaller areas if you control your air consumption.
What size needle are you using on your airbrush.
lori in canada

Mathilda Clasificados said...

I would like to ask my husband to follow your instructions for my daughter Celine.