Slow Sewing and Dyeing

The start of leaf printing – I hope! Those are sage leaves taken from a plant outside the door and laid out on the tunic. It looks white here but it is a pretty, pale yellow. I have read that garden dyes are hard to photograph unless there is plenty of sun: unfortunately, it’s been dismal here this week so I’ll have to make do.

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The tunic parcelled up ready for steaming.

The tunic is very damp and sitting in the cupboard with the hot water tank. It’s not really drying so I’m thinking about opening it out and using the iron to dry it. I’m in unknown territory here so I can’t quite make up my mind. Interestingly, the copper pipes in the cupboard are leaving their mark on the fabric. I don’t know whether it’s permanent or not. I’m recording everything in detail so I can post about it afterwards.

And this is the result of painting with egg:

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The white strip (actually pale grey) shows the before colour of the linen contrasted with the dyed colour.

After two weeks sitting in a pot with dandelion heads the painted lines have absorbed most of the dye. I am thinking of adding another colour to the skirt – one that’s too pale to colour the painted lines further but will add a little something to the background. Maybe dock leaves?

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This is the dress I’ve made from the same roll of Irish linen as this top and the painted skirt. It’s the Curlew dress pattern from Merchant & Mills: a lovely bias cut pattern. I’ve made it mostly by hand but used the Singer hand crank for staystitching and also (oddly – no idea why) for the the bias binding round the neck. I’m planning a milk mordant this weekend and then it’ll probably go into the solar dye pot with bramble tips (expecting a pinkish colour but we’ll see).

It has been lovely to slow down the sewing in this way.  I’ve thought about every step so carefully and it’s limited the unpicking. Am I the only sewist to race away with my machine only to unpick later? It seemed very simple to ease the sleeve into the armhole by hand whereas it’s a stressful process for me by machine.

Well, I think that’s all to report. Please feel free to ask questions as I haven’t put lots of detail into this.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

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Filed under Clothes, dresses, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, sewing, Singer sewing machines, slow dyeing, slow fashion, solar dyeing

Scrap Happy May

An unusual challenge for me.

This is my only remaining childhood doll: Susan. I don’t think I played much with dolls and they were gradually given away.

I had to dress her for a competition (result 18/20 but not enough for a place).

I’ve never made doll clothes and had no idea how hard they were – three attempts at pants before she could sit down and I had to drape a top to get the fit.

Tiny pockets were less trouble than the shoes – ribbon tied under the sole and round the ankles because they just wouldn’t stay on. Thanks to Em for that advice.

I would say that if you think you’re a good sewer / pattern drafter give doll clothes a try – you’ll definitely hone your skills.

Anyhow, the shoes are made from out of date leather upholstery samples, the top, trousers and bag from dressmaking leftovers.

Why not take a look at the other scrap challenges – always full of inspiration.

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

P.S.  This was my skirt before the dye pot – painted with egg.

I’ve just taken it out of the pot and I’m very excited. I’ll post about that in detail in a day or two.

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More Garden Dyeing

The same tunic  – before and after. Made from an old sheet and solar dyed in daffodil heads.

The colour is actually more yellow than green – rather like these primroses:

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For those of you who would like the technical details, here goes:

10th April left in sour milk overnight and dried in the shade without rinsing.

11th April Left overnight in water and washing soda. Dried without rinsing.

12th April As 10th April.

13th April Rinsed, soaked in cider vinegar previously used to pickle eggs – not sure why but it seemed like a good idea. Added the daffodil heads and the warm water they had been heated in. I covered the pot with a sack and left it in the greenhouse. I stirred it daily until:

27th April Removed from the pot, rinsed it in warm water and hung it undercover to drip dry. The result is a very pretty pale yellow that’s hard to convey in photos.

It’s now in a drawer to mature until I’m ready for the next stage – probably leaf prints.

This is a probably the dullest skirt in the world as it is but I’m hoping it’ll soon be much more exciting. I made it from the Irish linen I had to buy so much of last year when I was making the OneYearOneOutfit top. This piece was mordanted in milk when I made the top and has been sitting in a dark place ever since. I’ve also soaked it in warm water & washing soda.

I used the brown thread for some decorative hand stitching – oddly the thread was still in good condition when I found it in an old box full of sewing stuff. It’s important to me to use these old things and I’m thinking of using some (probably 1960s / 1970s) press studs to fasten it.

Incidentally, I used my 1930s Singer to sew most of the seams. It’s hand cranked and I keep wondering whether I could find a treadle to put it in. I think it might be easier to use that way.

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The skirt is currently cooling in another pot of daffodil dye. I think next time I will solar dye as the smell of the daffodils cooking is awful and can’t possibly be doing me any good.

I will update you when I see the result.

If you would like to see more frequent but brief postings, please follow me on Instagram – find me by clicking on the photos at the side of my blog.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

P.S. I have since looked up daffodil flowers and find that they are poisonous if eaten.  I wore gloves to process and covered the pot because of the smell. For future reference I think solar dyeing is the way to go for me.

 

 

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Enjoying the Slowness

My Tumbling Blocks quilt is growing: albeit very slowly. I’m really not far from finishing the top.

The bright white tunic – previously a sheet – is sitting in a pot of daffodil heads. They were flowers that needed deadheading so I popped them in the dye pot before going to the compost heap. I’m relying on solar power to dye the top. I heated it up when the solar panels were working and the pot is now sitting in the greenhouse. It will probably be there for 10-14 days. It’s not bright white anymore and I’m hoping for a pale yellow as a base colour. We’ll see!

The silk skirt is progressing well. I took it out of the dark and dyed it with onion skins today. I’ll rinse it once it’s dried – in some dyeing traditions this is done to help the colour to take better. I can see it from the window and it’s looking a lovely dark orange now. If I like the colour when it’s rinsed I’ll put it away in the dark for a couple of weeks before wearing it.

And then there’s my dress. Remember this top?

It’s Merchant & Mills Curlew pattern and I’m going to make the dress version using some of the big roll of undyed Irish linen I bought for OneYearOneOutfit. I’ve traced the pattern and I’ve been debating how to make it – machine or hand? I bought some undyed looking cotton to use the machine but now I’m not so sure. I enjoyed last year’s slow progress and wear the top a lot. The hand stitching is holding up fine. And if I do it at speed I’ll probably then make another dress – but I don’t need one.

What do you think?

I will be dyeing it once it’s made – usual slow methods.

Well, that’s the update. Hope there was something there to interest you.

Have a good week.

Norma x

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More about Dyeing

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Wool yarn immersed in Marigold Heads July 2016 

The Spring Equinox is now behind us, days are slightly longer than nights and so garden dyeing can begin again. Perfect time, as we’ve just been having some lovely sunny weather.

The wool yarn has been in that jar since last July until a week ago. I expected orange but got pale green. I wonder if that is because I didn’t rinse the jar beforehand? The vinegar from the pickles may have made a big difference to the outcome. It’s a happy accident anyway.

This is the orange silk skirt after being simmered in (used) tea bags. I keep them in the freezer to stop them going mouldy before I have enough to work with.

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After tea dyeing on the left, original colour right

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Herringboned hem – made to show on the outside

The colour is much better now but it’s in the dark awaiting a brown dye. I picked up pine cones from the garden this morning with the idea that they might provide the dye I need.  More to follow on that.

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Curing in the sun

Looks like a medic’s uniform? A tunic made from part of an old cotton sheet with the express intention of dyeing it with various materials over the summer. I think the fact that the sheet has been washed many times will help it receive colour better but I’m taking no chances. The thread is cotton straight from the reel and it hasn’t been washed before – it would be horrible to have bright white thread on a hand dyed garment. It’s had an alkali dip (washing soda) this afternoon, to be followed by a protein dip tonight (slightly sour milk saved specially in the freezer). I’ll do it all over again a few times before I dye it with the first layer – probably daffodil flowers that have died off.

In my dyeing adventures I’m using India Flint’s book “Eco Colour” as a guide. I love her work and I’m enjoying using some of her methods adapted as best I can for the vegetation and less sunny climes of Mid Wales.

Have a fun week.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

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Slow Sewing 

This is a skirt or  maybe a petticoat in the making. I bought the silk fabric maybe fifteen years ago but never used it because the colour doesn’t suit me. 

This is the book that inspired me to do something with it. I’m sewing it into a four panel drawstring skirt with the intention of dyeing it with tea when it’s done. 

I’m using variegated silk thread and making French seams. 

I think I need to slow down my sewing and take more pleasure in it, so I’m sewing by hand.

I’m collecting tea bags in the freezer. I reckon I’ll have enough in a fortnight and the skirt / petticoat should be finished by then.

Drop by in a fortnight if you’re interested in the process. 

Have a happy week.

Norma x 

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The One Hour(ish) Dress

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Em of RetroGlam sent me the book for fun and I thought I’d have a go. I like a challenge.

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Let no one say that I only show the successes….it’s ok but not really wearable. So what happenned?

The dress on the cover looks as if it’s made of lovely soft fabric but the advice is to  use “medium firm” fabric – which this is. I would say that you could not get the drape with it but if you used soft, drapey fabric most sewers couldn’t make it in an hour or even two.

I am probably not the shape (or age) of woman envisaged in the book – I don’t really think straight up  and down clothes are the thing for me. Of course, I knew that before I started but the idea that I might be able to make a dress that quickly spurred me on.

And the sash? I do have a photo taken wearing the sash but I couldn’t face showing it to everyone.

What makes it so fast?

The fabric is torn rather than cut and it’s all rectangles so that saves a lot of time. There’s no real shaping to worry about.

I think the seams were left unfinished or the selvedges were used in places.

The fabric for the bodice is one piece back & front with a hole cut for the neck.

How long did it take? Two hours! Why?

The pattern on the back of the bodice would have been upside down if I’d followed the book’s plan, so I had to make shoulder seams. In fairness, the author did point out that it wouldn’t work with a one way design but I didn’t have anything else suitable.

I don’t like raw edges so I zigzagged them.

I pintucked the fabric for the skirt to narrow the waist. The book suggests side plaits (pleats) but I thought they would look awful on me.

I had to feed the hens and walk the dogs part way through so I lost track of where I was.

The bobbin thread ran out & I hadn’t thought of preparing a spare beforehand.

I am not a fast sewer.

So, what to do?

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A skirt and top. An improvement???

I split the dress at the waist, took a bit of the skirt’s fullness out and added buttons along one seam so I can still get into it.

There’s also a knee high split so I can walk.  I’m thinking of making a black cotton petticoat to flash a bit of lace as I walk along.

The red skirt is my latest version of the 1934 skirt – for everyday wear.

The black teeshirt is me made – I traced a favourite shop bought teeshirt to get the pattern. Tracing existing clothes is one of the ways I get patterns I like.

What did I learn?

That a sewing challenge can be fun even if you’re pretty sure you won’t want to wear the result.

That with a few modifications I could get a dress I would like out of this. I would add darts to create shaping, add fastenings because it would be hard to get in and out without the loose shape and use a soft fabric. I would also make my own bias binding to match the dress because I think it would look classier.

I’d like to say a big “Thank you” to Em for sending me the book. I enjoyed the challenge and I’ve learned from it.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, blogging friends, Clothes, dresses

Pattern Design Books

Two very interesting pattern design books just received from Em of Retro Glam.

The draping book needs a lot of study – I’m a bit frightened of draping, it’s so different to anything I’ve ever tried. Em is making a 1930s dress and used draping to get her lovely pattern. I recommend taking a look at her blog for a real learning experience.

The one hour dress though is just my thing. I love making clothes without patterns. I can already see one of these beautiful 1920s dresses as the “thing” for a summer wedding I’ve been invited to. In lawn or a supple silk perhaps. I think I’ll make a very small scale version first to be sure I’ve got the hang of it.

Anyhow, lots of excitement for me thanks to Em.

Thanks for sharing the excitement with me.

Norma x

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And the winner is….

Gary picking the winner. 

Emma and her machine. 

Emma, please email your address to normajeffries at yahoo dot co dot uk and I will send you this pattern. 

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Mini Quilts

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The quilts each measure approximately 11.25inches x 8.25 inches. This size of quilt has become a bit of an obsession of mine. They get put into an envelope and sold in a sort of Quilt Lucky Dip to raise funds for the Quilt Association.

It’s quite a hard size because it’s not square – normal block patterns don’t work but it gives me the freedom to try out ideas. If they work I give them to the Quilt Association, otherwise they’re scrapped.

These two are made from the remains of the batik jellyroll I used to make this skirt.

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I’ve made a couple more mini quilts but one isn’t quite right yet so I’ll save them for another day.

You can see my velvet mini quilts here.

And there’s another 1934 skirt in the pipeline – they really are becoming an obsession.

Thanks for dropping by

Norma x

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