Category Archives: fashion

Garden Dyeing Again

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Garden dyed skirt

This linen skirt has been in the dyepot several times since it was made. The link shows the original undyed colour of the linen.

The lines and dots were made by painting with egg. The final dye was made from dock leaves taken from plants that were seeding. It gives a much deeper yellow than leaves taken earlier in the season but I think the build up of the various dyes helps too.

I’m planning to stitch along the lines with variegated silk threads. It will be a long time before I finish this skirt.

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Tunic Dyed with Sage

This tunic was made from a sheet and has undergone several transformations.  I tried printing with sage leaves and loved the yellow colour but it came out in blobs rather than leaf shapes. That’s what encouraged me to dye the whole thing with sage. It’s been in the dye pot in the greenhouse for six days which is quite a short time for solar dyeing here, but the weather has been exceptionally hot.

This is it rinsed in cold water and hanging in the shade; once dry, I will put it away for a week or two before washing it (gently!). I’ve noticed that the dye stays in better if the fabric gets a good rest between each stage.

The marks on the tunic were made by the copper pipes coming out of the hot water tank. Originally accidental, I liked them, so I made some more.

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Some garden dyed samples

These pieces of cotton fabric were originally white and were solar dyed as follows:

Top left used dock leaves from seeding plants.

Top right is from dock leaves pre seeding.

Bottom left is Earl Grey tea.

Bottom right is dandelion flowers. I was suprised by this as they produced a brownish shade on the skirt and a very brown shade on the painted parts of it.

If you’re interested in mordants, some pieces of fabric have been treated with alum but most have been soaked in dilute (slightly sour) milk and washed in washing soda before dyeing. They have all been left to dry between each stage and some have been stored for several weeks.  Alum is the only “normal” mordant I use. The others worry me somewhat and I prefer milk followed by washing soda.

Pieces of old sheet have picked up the dye really well without me adding any mordant. I think that is because of the number of times the sheet has been washed before it became part of my stash. I think there’s a build up of washing soda or something similar.

If you are interested in more detail, please let me know. I will do my best to answer any questions. All these are experiments inspired by India Flint. I think it will take years before I will be able to call myself a dyer but I’m enjoying the journey.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

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I made my shoes!

New espadrilles from scrap fabric and bought soles.

I used a pattern from Mollie Makes magazine. They’re a first attempt and don’t fit as well as I’d like so I’m going to alter the pattern and make another pair.

This photo shows the lining – a piece from my old kitchen curtains. 

I’d really like to make more shoes and this seemed a good way to start. 

The soles are made by Prym and I bought them online. And a word of warning – the pattern doesn’t have seam allowances and so far as I can tell, doesn’t say so.

Thanks for dropping by. 

Norma x 

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Some Dyeing and some Dresses

My Merchant & Mills Curlew dress.

The colour is more realistic in the photo taken on the stairs. It’s made of the undyed Irish linen and I’ve used Earl Grey tea to get the gold colour – I am so pleased with it!

The Facts:

Pattern Changes: I shortened the sleeves. I made the top so I didn’t make a toile.

Sewing: I sewed most of the seams by hand and the rest using my 1930s hand cranked Singer. The dress is bias cut so my wonky handsewing holds it quite well. I could have used my modern Pfaff with its zigzag stitch but I wanted to take my time over it.

Dyeing

I made the dress first

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This is the original colour.

Then I made Earl Grey tea with about fifteen used bags (store them in the freezer until you have enough), strained the tea and heated the dress with the tea. Left the dress to cool in the tea and then hung it in the shade to dry. Left it two days and then rinsed it, spun it gently and left it to dry in the shade.

I like the Earl Grey colour better than the more orangey shades of English Breakfast tea and I think I’ll try it again for something else.

I don’t usually post everything I make but I like this batik dress. it’s getting a lot of wear in the warmer weather we’ve been having.

The Merchant & Mills Bantam dress.

I’ve also made tops from this pattern. They are really good with jeans and don’t take much fabric so leftovers are used up.

The Bantam has a shirt style so the back is lower than the front. I quite like that, what do you think?

And here’s one of my attempts to cheer up every day wear.

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Just added for fun!

No pattern. This is just rectangles tucked to fit.

And for those of you waiting for the tunic

The colour doesn’t show up well on the actual tunic so I’ve included the parcel I made for leaf printing to get a better idea.

The sage leaves became blobs (pretty deep yellow blobs though!) rather than leaves when I tried to print with them. I don’t think I bundled them up tightly enough. If I had enough sage I would use it to dye a whole garment – the yellow really is beautiful.

I got interested in the marks the copper pipes from the hot water tank – so I made some more by wrapping the tunic around the pipes. I think the copper enhanced the yellow rather than made a dye themselves, although if you know about this I’d be glad to hear from you.

The tunic is in store waiting to be decorated further. I think it would benefit from fancy threads to enhance the pattern the copper pipes made.  I’m thinking about it.

So that’s it. I haven’t been keeping up with what you’ve been up to so I’ll be around to your blog to check up on your activities very soon.

Have a lovely week.

Norma x

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Filed under Clothes, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, sewing, slow dyeing, slow fashion, solar dyeing, stashbusting, textiles

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

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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1940s Pattern Giveaway 

Some of you may remember that I made this dress once and it soooo didn’t suit me.  It’s a lovely pattern but whilst I love 1940s styles they really don’t love me.

I traced off the pattern so it’s all still complete. 

If you’d like this Sense & Sensibility pattern please leave a comment below and I’ll choose someone from the hat next Thursday 23rd February. 

It’s not heavy so I’ll post anywhere in the world. 

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Leather Pouches

I’m trying to work with leather.

I was given scraps of supersoft coloured suede and had the idea I’d like little pouches (the bottoms are about 2 inch diameter), the sort of thing I’d imagine a Medieval woman putting her money in or a travelling herbalist keeping her most special herbs in. I’ve used them as purses and for giving little gifts, but I’d like to have one with tiny special items inside – maybe pretty stones.

The brown leather was fairly damaged when I got it but I just wanted something to try so it didn’t matter too much. The bag is made with three identical shapes as you can see from its bottom. It’s based on a 16th century pattern – not commercially available so far as I know and it was drawn on a bit of brown paper for me.

I added the strap: I think the original might have been attached to a belt. I machine sewed using a leather needle and extra strong thread.

I tried to add metal eyelets to the brown leather but I just couldn’t get them to attach properly. I’ve never used metal eyelets before so I have no idea why they didn’t work. I will try again using denim to see if it’s my technique or the leather.

I used an awl to make the holes for the draawstring. I think a leather punch might be better so I’ll look for one of those.

I would like to learn lots more about leatherwork. Making shoes would be lovely. Some of you might remember these shoes I made in a beginners’ workshop at Green Shoes.

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Shoes made with lots of help

The shoes are still in use five years later, although I have had them resoled so they’re not quite so me made as they were.

I have used the little pouches and although the brown pouch is not as elegant as I’d like because my skills are pretty basic, I think I’ll want to use that too.

I have been watching Carolyn’s shoemaking for her Year of Handmade and thinking I should have another go. Maybe I will.

Meantime, I was given these so that I can keep practicing.

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Leather upholstery samples

So I’ll definitely keep trying.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

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Another 1934 skirt

 

 

This one is Irish linen – navy pinstripe.

How is it different to the others?

It has a zip in the side. The lavender one has press studs and the wool one has wooden buttons.The lavender skirt doesn’t have a back pleat.

The zip was a lucky charity shop find and dates from the 1960s (still in its original packaging). It works fine, but I rubbed the teeth with a pencil point to ensure smooth running.

I sewed this one on my modern Pfaff and finished the seams with a machine zigzag stitch. I did insert the zip by hand (because I am rubbish at zips) and hemmed the bottom by hand too. I sewed the lavender skirt on my 1930s Singer and finished all seams by hand overcasting. I sewed the wool skirt 100% by hand.

I think I might have made a mess of this skirt if I hadn’t made the other two very slowly beforehand. I have had plenty of practice with the pleats now.

I’ve been very encouraged by the support of EmilyAnn in Brooklyn who’s sewing 1930s along with me. Take a look at her marvellous recreation of a 1930s dress. Wonderful sewing and technical details.

Which is my favourite?

I love the wool skirt so much but I did need a slightly lighter version for warmer weather.

What next?

I’ve been trying to work out what I need in my wardrobe and I think a dress and jacket for a summer wedding need to be high priority. I’m also planning a garden dyed skirt (or maybe wide trousers) and a top but whilst I might make them now, the actual dyeing will probably take all summer.

I’m planning plenty of posts about garden dyeing for this year, so look out for that if you’re interested.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dressmaking, fashion, sewalongs, textiles

Wearing the Landscape

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OneYearOneOutfit – the final outfit reveal.

Top: Lots more detail here.

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Before dyeing

Made of Irish linen, garment dyed by me with docks, onion skins and a pattern made by hammering English Marigolds into the fabric. I kept the top in the dark after each dyeing session to help set the dye.

Bias cut, sewn by hand. Pattern: Merchant & Mills Curlew.

Skirt: Lots more detail here.

Welsh wool, spun in Wales and woven at the National Wool Museum. No dyes, these are natural sheep colours.

Pattern: 1934 from Home Journal magazine. Extra pleat inserted by me.

Scarf: All welsh wool. The cream and the grey are natural sheep colours. The golds are onion dyed by me.

The scarf replaces the waistcoat I knitted which I hate: it makes me look much bigger than I like. It will make a gorgeous cushion cover and I’ll work on that over the next few months.

Boots: Made by Celtic & Co in Cornwall from British sheepskins which are mainly a waste product these days. They were a Christmas present from my husband.

Is it wearable? Yes! I have worn the skirt and top together and felt happy with it. I put these boots with it to make it a British Isles outfit and prefer my black leather boots to make an outfit.

The top is a great match with my black trousers so will get worn that way too. I love the skirt and it goes well with a couple of other tops (and the black leather boots rather than these). The scarf is lovely and warm so is sure to get lots of wear over the winter.

What did I learn about British Isles textile products? There are no natural fibre threads spun in the British Isles so far as I can tell. All my threads had to be pulled from the fabrics so handsewing was the only option.

Plenty of handmade wooden buttons are available and they are so beautiful.

 

There is lots of Welsh knitting wool available – hand and machine spun. I’ve loved using it and will definitely use it again. It looks and feels beautiful. My knitting skills do not do it justice (and that’s not false modesty).

How will I take it forward?

Making clothes from completely local products is time consuming and can be quite expensive.

A lot of work goes into bringing up sheep, spinning yarn, weaving yarn, dyeing , knitting and handsewing. If all my clothes had to be made this way, I would have very few. It makes me understand why Elizabethans left each decent garment to a favoured person in their will. They were valuable and valued.

My life won’t allow me to have every item made this way but I plan to use elements in the future.

Lots of garden and other natural dyeing planned. I loved doing it. I’m growing woad to try to get local blue dye. The plant was eaten by caterpillars so I’ll have to try again.

I will visit WonderWool Wales again and buy more Welsh wool fabric. For a jacket, perhaps.

I am a terrible knitter but definitely improving because of all the practice I got doing this project. I’d like to use some of the cream or grey wool to make a sweater for next winter.  Or the one after!

I bought a 10 metre roll of undyed linen so I think another Curlew top or dress but dyed a different colour. Made by machine next time with purchased threads.

I really like Merchant & Mills patterns so I’ll probably make more of theirs in 2017. (I made an “unblogged” summer top from one of their patterns too).

Why wearing the landscape? That’s how I felt about #oneyearoneoutfit when I was working on my clothes. I wanted to take it further and see what else I could do with natural colours and fibres. It occurred to me that maybe wearing nature’s current products rather than those that have been buried under the earth for centuries might be a more sympathetic look for me.

I’d love to hear your comments on that.

Happy Stitching!

Norma x

 

 

 

 

 

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Victorian Style Petticoat for a 1930s Skirt

It proved impossible to find a secondhand silk dress to line this oneyearoneoutfit 1930s skirt. It’s made of Welsh wool tweed and needs something underneath to complete it. If I could’ve sourced some very lightweight undyed Irish linen it would have made a great lining. It was not to be.

Instead, I decided I’d have to make a petticoat to work with it. I was inspired by the lovely cotton lace I was given and some white cotton lawn from my stash made it possible.

The top of the petticoat uses one width of the 115cm wide fabric and the bottom frill is 150cm wide. It was the only way to get a long swishy petticoat out of 1.5m of fabric.

Unlike the Victorian petticoat it resembles, it has elastic at the waist. It has French seams, a rolled hem and I’ve satin stitched the lace to the petticoat. All techniques used in the 1930s but I did them all by machine.

I couldn’t resist some handsewing so there’s white cross stitching in cotton perle on the gathered seam.

I’ve used cotton threads throughout so that I can dye the petticoat in the future if I want to. Interestingly, the very fine cotton thread I used for all the sewing behaved well even when stitching the elastic in. It needed to be upright on the sewing machine spindle because it was straight wound onto the bobbin.

It doesn’t count towards oneyearoneoutfit because it isn’t local fabric or thread and I’ve no idea where the elastic comes from, but it does make the skirt wearable. A wool skirt with no lining teamed with a too short petticoat would never get worn, but this combination made me feel fabulous when I wore it. And that’s what we’re all looking for from our clothes, isn’t it?

Thanks for dropping by

Norma x

 

 

 

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Filed under #1year1outfit, 1930s, Clothes, dressmaking, fashion, history, sewing, stashbusting, textiles