An ongoing series of informational entries and fun facts about our products.

What Exactly ARE Fiber Reactive Dyes?

January 26, 2017

We use fiber reactive dyes to produce our hand-dyed fabric designs. Through various application processes, fiber reactive dyes produce lovely effects on natural fibers such as cotton, rayon, and silk, but they will not dye synthetics such as polyester due to the manner in which they work. 

Fiber reactive dyes bond permanently to natural fibers through an electron bond created by mixing dye powder and soda ash (sodium carbonate). Soda ash, which is the active ingredient in washing soda, increases levels of pH to enable the covalent bond, which is the dyeing process.

Fiber reactive dye powders themselves contain no heavy metals or toxic substances. Because they actually bond with the fabric fibers, as opposed to remaining independent chemical elements within the fibre, they are colorfast, permanent, and non-toxic. While you might experience minor bleeding of your garment upon first hand washing, the color discharged is composed of deactivated dye particles that did not react with soda ash, and subsequently did not bond. Any color discharge that you see will not bleed into or stain other fabrics and will disappear upon future hand washings. 

What is Shibori?

February 26, 2017

Shibori is the ancient Japanese technique of folding, binding, and using objects to "resist" dye, thereby creating repeated patterns in fabric. Dating back to the 8th-century, the technique was applied primarily to silk using indigo plant dye. 

While indigo is still popular and beautiful in modern shibori, today's artisan has a broad arsenal of updated fabrics and exciting fashion colors to work with. For example, we created the scarves shown to the left using a light weight 70% silk/30% cotton blend fabric and fiber-reactive dyes.

Similar to painting with water colors, Van Decker Vogue very often incorporates the fabric's original white into the overall design, as shown in the light lavender example on the left. In that piece, you also can observe how wood block and string "resists" combine to produce a bamboo stalk pattern running through the fabric.  We sometimes create more colorful results by running multiple processes on a piece, as in the yellow and coral example on the right. 

Whatever the nuances of technique we used, you can be sure that each item has been individually hand-crafted into a unique piece of wearable art. Whether paired with a casual white tee, worn as a head wrap, or draped over a favorite little black dress, your versatile shibori scarf  from Van Decker Vogue will quickly become a beloved "go to" accessory!

Accessorizing with Scarves

March 30, 2017

Oscar De La Renta once noted that "a woman makes an outfit her own with accessories." As an accessory item, a scarf can dramatically change the look and mood of your outfit by introducing complementary color and texture. It can easily add the "exclamation point" to your look, as Michael Kors observed. But once you've picked out your scarf, how are you going to tie it?

No one ever went wrong with a simple drape or wrap around the neck, or even a front tie. But those looks, while tried and true, can also seem boring and trite, especially when everyone you see is sporting the same look. Sometimes you want to experiment with an entirely new bold look by breaking free of tradition.

From unique bows to flattering head wraps, this article offers some fresh ideas:

Depending on its width, length, and material, your scarf can be folded, twisted, and tied to accessorize in a way that is distinctly you. Van Decker Vogue offers a range of sizes, fabrics, patterns, and colors. We provide you the raw materials; where you take them stylewise is up to you and limited only by your imagination.

How will you punctuate your look this season?

Rocking the Retro Head Scarf

May 5, 2017

Marilyn Monroe once said, "Sometimes, wearing a scarf and a polo coat and no makeup and with a certain attitude of walking, I go shopping or just look at people living." While venturing out incognito, Ms. Monroe no doubt often donned a head scarf to disguise her iconic platinum mane.

Most of us don't need to travel incognito, but we appreciate and often emulate Marilyn's quintessential 1950s style! Lucky for us, the retro look is back in fashion -- or maybe it never left. From updated horn-rimmed and Wayfarer frames to our favorite jeans, today's classics retain the genetic fashion code of their ancestors. 

The rapidly approaching summer season will be the perfect time to express your inner Marilyn Monroe or Bettie Page. Pull on your 1950s cigarette pants, sport your favorite horn-rimmed shades, and experiment with a head wrap.

To get started, check out Vintagious's YouTube video for some retro chic inspiration.  And if you want to further explore the turban-style wrap, The London Curls has published a great online tutorial. (The faux bun technique illustrated in this video is very cool.) And if that isn't enough, the Naturally Curly web site offers 45 Head Wrap styles to peruse.

Van Decker Vogue can show you a super easy turban trick featuring our best-selling light rayon infinity scarf, three simple wraps, a few easy twists, and a tuck. Our infinities are large enough to wrap around your shoulder as a shawl, pull through your arms as a bolero, or simply wear infinity style around your neck. As you discover its many uses as a fashion accessory, be sure to try wrapping it turban style. Or drape it loosely over your hair, don your favorite ankle pants, Keds, and Wayfarers and go full-on Marilyn!

Stop by our booth at the 3rd Annual Keyport Antiques and Artisan Festival on May 20 for a live demo of our rayon infinity scarves and other one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items. See you soon!

Summer Hat Style

May 5, 2017

With the warm summer sunshine also come damaging UV rays. Sun protection in the form of light-weight straw hats is not only practical but fashionable as well.

Our hand-dyed silk sashes and scarves are the perfect addition to your summer straw sun hat. We will have a large selection of hand-dyed fabric items available in the Made in Monmouth tent at the Monmouth County Fair (NJ) on July 29, 3-11 PM.  

In addition to a wide variety of hand-dyed silk scarves, we will offer a small number of hats similar to the one shown in the photo, as well as indigo dyed rayon skirts and pareos, rayon infinity scarves, and our full line of leather jewelry.

Autumn Style

August 14, 2017

Autumn will be here soon, and we are getting ready to launch a line of accessories bathed in the colors of the fall. The one-of-a-kind silk devore satin scarf shown here in shades of a rich Gingersnap and muted Muir Green adds unique character to the most modest of black dresses or tops, but makes an equally bold statement when offset by the season's browns, beiges, and taupes.

Come see what we've been working on! We'll be at the Lakewood Lion's Renaissance Faire in NJ, September 16 and 17, and at the Mount Pocono, PA, Harvest Festival, September 23, 2017!

Holiday Gifts

November 13 , 2017

We have been working on more one-of-a-kind silk creations that are priced attractively and perfect for holiday gift giving. The versatile silk and rayon  velvet burnout scarf shown here in shades of winter blue with hints of lilac measures 14" wide X 72" long. It along with other lovely pieces will be available for sale at two upcoming events at Pocono Farms Country Club in Tobyhanna, PA.

Hope to see you at PFCC for Ladies' Night Out on November 17, or for the Holiday Gift and Craft Show on November 18, Noon till 4 PM at the PFCCA Clubhouse, where you also can order a cocktail and delicious snack while you shop. 

2018 Spring and Summer Fashion Colors

March 25, 2018

Spring and summer will soon be here, and so will fresh fashion colors. Dominating the 2018 fashion scene are shades of lavender, violet, rose, red, and blue, in addition to light green, chocolate brown, and bright yellow, according to Vogue.

Whether you are looking for a more casual fabric, such as our signature rayon infinity scarf, or a more formal devore satin or Habotai silk piece, we will have the perfect accessories to punctuate your personal style this spring, including the gorgeous combination of blues and violets similar to the one shown to the left, and available for sale here as well as at upcoming events!

2018 Summer will be here soon! Time to Update Your Tie Dye!

May 2018

The fashion industry continues to embrace tie dye. Vogue UK recently reported on high-end tie dye designs featured on catwalks by Ferragamo, Marco De Vincenzo, and Stella Jean during Milan Fashion Week. This is not your grandma's tie dye in glaring 1970s red, yellow, and turquoise shades. Rather, it is subtle and chic, and dances across the Pantone palette in the most sophisticated shades of purples, pinks, greens, browns, and blues. Vogue claims that the runway's latest incarnation of tie dye represents the industry's "latest shift towards wearing fashion that hints to the wholesome and handmade." Well, that is certainly something that we know a bit about!

To help you update your tie dye for Summer 2018, we have been  creating higher-end unique silk pieces in updated tie dye styles and fresh combinations of fashion colors -- at very reasonable prices.

Welcome the warm weather wrapped in luxurious hand-dyed scarves designed to add a pop of color without unwanted bulk. Our 100% Habotai silk infinity scarves, such as the one shown here, are 11 inches wide by 72 inches around. They are not only on-trend; they are priced so attractively that you can own several without breaking your budget. Come see them for yourself at upcoming events

The Holiday Gift Season Will Soon be Here

November-December 2018

Welcome the holiday season wrapped in unique and luxurious hand-dyed scarves, or gift a few to your nearest and dearest. Each piece is unique;  no two are identical because they are individually hand-dyed. For special holiday occasions, you can't go wrong with a hand-dyed cut velvet scarf in rich jewel tones (similar to the one shown to the left). If gifting, select a casual fiber-reactive light rayon infinity loop that can be worn multiple ways -- always versatile and much-appreciated. Or select 100% Habotai steam-set silk infinity scarves. Hand-crafted in brilliant colors, the silk infinity scarves look very high-end, but they are priced so attractively that you can gift quite a few -- and keep one for yourself -- without breaking your budget. Come see them at upcoming events

In the Midst of Winter Freeze....Think Spring!

March 2019

Unfortunately, this year's two-day Sherman Theater Winter CraftFest in Stroudsburg, PA, was limited to one day due to winter weather, the Governor's declaration of emergency, and a deep freeze. But in spite of the cold, people ventured out pre-storm on Saturday. It was wonderful to meet those of you who visited my booth. I truly hope that you enjoy the items that you purchased for years to come!

As we enter the often unpredictable winter season in the mountains, fewer live venues are scheduled, and those that are can be canceled up to the last minute due to Mother Nature's seasonal storms.

So while all of this winter white stuff descends upon us, I'm going to focus on developing new unique designs and color combinations for SPRING. In response to customer requests, I just ordered a new Devore satin pattern to play with, and more of the popular light and airy silk and cotton blend in 80" lengths as well as a light and airy infinity loop. These new items will be available for sale at the Emerald Lakes Spring Vendor and Craft Market on April 6. I'll also be offering new, unique hand-dyed designs on Etsy very soon!

Stay warm and safe!

Materials and Processes. . .

April 2019

I work in 

  • 100% silk, 
  • silk and rayon blends, 
  • silk and cotton blends, and 
  • 100% rayon. 

Different fabrics require their own types of dyes and processes.  On the one hand, rayon and cotton are "plant-based" fibers that color best with fiber reactive dyes which marry with the fabric through a chemical reaction brought about via a fairly strong solution of soda ash. On the other hand, silk is a "protein" based fiber requiring specific steam-set silk dyes to obtain bright, permanent color.

While I often use Fiber reactive dyes on silks and blends, I do so with great care and caution so that the fabric is not damaged by the caustic soda ash solution, which has the potential to destroy delicate protein fibers.  

On blends like the Devore satin shown to the left, I use both types of dye. The raised  cutouts are rayon, so the fabric first gets a relatively brief -- but highly pigmented -- bath in fiber-reactive orange and yellow dye and soda ash to create a gold tone. When that process completes, the piece is thoroughly rinsed to get the soda ash out of the silk, and left to air dry over night. On the next day, I apply a second process of steamed silk dye with the addition of alcohol (to make the dye "dance"). This creates the contrasting dark blue background. After steaming, the piece is rinsed and left to "cure" over night again. On the third day, I wash the piece in special dyer's detergent to remove loose dye and treat the piece to a final rinse in a special softener designed to restore the fabric's "hand." The final step of the process is to steam iron the fabric while it is damp.

And finally, after a lengthy three-day process, the piece is done, and hopefully someone will think it is as beautiful as I do and will want it for her very own!

Multiple processes are time consuming and labor intensive,  but the result is a stunning fabric accessory that cannot be found elsewhere -- and when the maker "gets it right," the result is very satisfying indeed!