Category Archives: textiles

Scrappy Post

I’m very late for Scrap Happy September but thought I’d show you these little fabric pots I’ve made.

The largest has a 2.25 inch base and is an inch high. These pots are going to a local shop but I plan to make some in silk for Christmas presents and fill them with little gifts.

I will be around soon to look at what you’ve been up to and soon I’ll be back to regular posts.

Have a lovely week

Norma x

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Filed under fabric bowls, fabric pots and bags, scraps, sewing, textiles

Blackberry Dye

This is the linen Merchant & Mills Curlew dress previously tea dyed.

I’ve worn it in its previous incarnation and decided the colour is not for me as a dress.

Maybe as a top I’d like it better.

It was mordanted in sour milk originally and the tea and the wash it had after wearing should also act as mordants.

I will dry without rinsing and leave it to cure for a week or two before washing.

Apologies for the photo quality – I’m having to use my phone.

Enjoy your week.

Norma

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Filed under Clothes, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, slow dyeing, slow fashion, textiles

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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Filed under dyeing, fashion, India Flint, scraps, slow dyeing, slow fashion, solar dyeing, textiles

Scrap Skirt 

My new skirt.

Colour Block Skirt

I have a lot of linen scraps, some of them quite large – most of my summer clothes are made from linen or linen/cotton. The pale blue in the middle is the remains of a tablecloth I dyed in natural indigo a few years ago. The lavender is leftover from my first 1930s skirt. I’ve incorporated some pieces from an old skirt too.

The fastenings are buttoned pleats – they open up to make enough space to get in and out of the skirt. It’s a type of fastening I’ve been experimenting with recently. This skirt has a similar fastening. I like that I don’t have to have openings at the side.

The buttons have all been rescued from old clothes. I just can’t let a good button go to waste.

I’m joining lots of makers over at Scrap Happy June. Why not pop over and see what other people have been making?

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

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Filed under Clothes, patchwork, scraps, sewing, textiles

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

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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Filed under dolls, dressmaking, scraps, sewing, textiles

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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Filed under Clothes, dyeing, fashion, sewing, Singer sewing machines, slow dyeing, solar dyeing, textiles

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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Filed under Clothes, dyeing, patchwork, quilts, sewing, slow dyeing, solar dyeing, textiles, traditional quilts

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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Filed under bags, fashion, leather, purses, scraps, sewing, textiles

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