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  1. #1
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    Ever dye wool tartan

    Was curious if anyone has experimented with dying kilts? I want a belted plaid that is not so bright but rather blends in with its surroundings like they made them in the 18th century and earlier. I could always buy the weathered tartans but those can get rather pricey, so I thought maybe i could dye it or stain a cheaper tartan to get the same look. I'm thinking either Wallace, Fraser red, or Macgregor. any input is appreciated. thanks.

  2. #2
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    The idea that 18th century tartan was always dull is a fallacy. Those that could afford it would generally opt for the best and brightest shades.

    With regard to your question, I think you mean/should be referring to, staining tartan rather than dyeing it. The former will tone down a pattern, the latter will alter it and depending on the colour and weight of dyestuff, obscure the design.

    If you want to dull down a red based tartan you could steep the cloth in a bath of weak tea or coffe and that should dow the trick. Worth trying with a similar swatch before going the whole hog.

  3. The Following User Says 'Aye' to figheadair For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
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    Derekc


    Please check out figheadair's various write ups analyzing original documented 18th Century tartans.

    http://www.scottishtartans.co.uk/research.htm

    The documentation is much different than the pop history that has colored :-) many peoples perceptions
    Last edited by Luke MacGillie; 11th December 16 at 10:22 AM.

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  6. #4
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    I've done it. A couple years back, I started a thread titled "An Interesting Experiment" in which I posted a photo of the result.
    'A damned ill-conditioned sort of an ape. It had a can of ale at every pot-house on the road, and is reeling drunk. "

  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    The idea that 18th century tartan was always dull is a fallacy. Those that could afford it would generally opt for the best and brightest shades.

    With regard to your question, I think you mean/should be referring to, staining tartan rather than dyeing it. The former will tone down a pattern, the latter will alter it and depending on the colour and weight of dyestuff, obscure the design.

    If you want to dull down a red based tartan you could steep the cloth in a bath of weak tea or coffe and that should dow the trick. Worth trying with a similar swatch before going the whole hog.
    It's true that there were those who could afford bright colors and those people wanted to stand out, but most people were very poor and (don't quote me on this) often use their tartan as camouflage while hunting so they would choose more earthy browns,tans, and grays. Of course this is just what I've heard, I could be completely wrong.

    I was thinking dye would work better for what I'm looking for cuz I want the red a more brownish color. Plus I tried coffee on a tartan swatch but it didn't take.

  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by KD Burke View Post
    I've done it. A couple years back, I started a thread titled "An Interesting Experiment" in which I posted a photo of the result.
    Looked at that thread, and it's very interesting. But the idea of putting wool in a wash machine hurts my soul.

  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derekc5555 View Post
    Looked at that thread, and it's very interesting. But the idea of putting wool in a wash machine hurts my soul.
    As my dad was fond of saying "Do not as I do. Do as I SAY do."

    I don't advocate machine washing tartan. I only did it because the fabric was unsuited to the task I had commissioned it for and I thought it might work as a boiled wool blanket.

    I was right. It still is a very comfortable and wind-proof plaid, suitable for use as a picnic blanket, stadium blanket, whatever.
    'A damned ill-conditioned sort of an ape. It had a can of ale at every pot-house on the road, and is reeling drunk. "

  10. #8
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    Well I'm glad to see it worked out for you.

  11. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    If you want to dull down a red based tartan you could steep the cloth in a bath of weak tea or coffe and that should dow the trick. Worth trying with a similar swatch before going the whole hog.
    How long do you think I should let it soak in the coffee/tea? A few hours? days? Weeks? Also would a diluted brown dye also work?

  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derekc5555 View Post
    How long do you think I should let it soak in the coffee/tea? A few hours? days? Weeks? Also would a diluted brown dye also work?
    I was about to suggest that, using a diluted dye. I dyed a British army dress jacket black, and the instructions on Rit Studio website (from someone who dyed a suit purple for her son's Joker costume ) advised using two bottles of dye versus only one for cotton, rayon, linen, etc. So maybe if you tried using, say, a third of a bottle of brown dye? Better to have it come out too weak and have to do it again than too dark.

    Oh, I almost forgot...the instructions are here: https://www.ritstudio.com/2015/10/26/joker-cosume/ Only I found that I didn't have to use the fabric refresher let alone putting it in the dryer (which I would certainly not advise with a belted plaid), as the only vinegar smell I noticed was when I re-pressed the bottom edges with a press cloth sprayed with vinegar water...and even that smell dissipated on its own in less than an hour.

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