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Vintage Costumes – Setting Dyes, Preserving Colors

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In the tribal bellydance world, we love our vintage and hand-made items. Particularly we heart imported Indian costuming, such as Banjara cholis, Rajasthani or Jaipur skirts, and bandhani tie-dye style dupattas. Whether old or new, they are subject to dye transfer and fading, and are difficult to clean. Here is a method that will help set dyes for longer wear, and is a good method for freshening up older garments which may have “vintage odors” to go along with our own bodily contributions while dancing.

If doing multiple items, I suggest doing them each in their own separate baths to avoid color transfer between them.

1. Fill your kitchen sink or large tub with cold water. Add a 1/2 cup of white vinegar plus 1/4 cup sea salt or similar.
2. Swish around to dissolve salt as much as possible.
3. Put item in the sink and gently squeeze the vinegar/salt water into the fabric.
 NOTE: With any items with sequins/pailettes, be careful not to fold/scrunch them.
4. Leave soaking for 30-60 minutes.
5. Drain sink and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
6. Lay out to dry (do not hang, it will stretch) in shady spot. NEVER dry in direct sunlight, it will fade the colors and can damage vintage fibers.
    6a. If you are doing a small item like a choli, and have a rack in your
        dryer on which you can set items so they don’t tumble, set to cool
        and lay item as flat as possible.

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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