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.
After tea dyeing on the left, original colour right
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.
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.
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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?
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This is the blouse I was planning to sew for my 1930s outfit – minus the scarf bit – that wouldn’t suit the cotton fabric or me.
But I’ve got a problem. I undid the blouse pattern ready to trace it and found I didn’t like it. I just won’t wear it. I know I won’t.
So here’s plan B:
I would like to make the “summer coat blouse” from The Needlewoman June 1934 in the same linen as my skirt. But I can’t find a pattern that I can use as a base. Has anyone seen anything that would work, please? I don’t feel confident that I could cut my own pattern so I need a base to work from.
The cotton fabric won’t be wasted, it will be one of the tee shirts seen here.
All help gratefully received.
PS EmilyAnn can cut her own patterns – see her blog for the wonderful journey from fabric, through drape to pattern.
No, not in an office or a shop but muddy work on our plot growing vegetables and mucking out hens.
I wear these tee shirt replacements with hardwearing trousers (usually jeans) often bought from charity shops. Over the years I’ve found that tee shirts are rarely in reasonable condition in charity shops but a small piece of fabric – new or from someone’s discarded stash – will make a good replacement tee shirt.
The photo shows the best ones I have. One or two are made of fabrics that are a bit too stiff and some are very worn and ready to become cleaning cloths.
Mostly they are hidden under jumpers or even a coat so they’re not much seen. If I really like them (and the ones in the photo are all in that category), I will wear them to town a few times first.
As for jeans, I know quite a few of you wouldn’t wear them but I do because what else can hide the dirt so well and not need ironing when they’ve been washed? They’re even better if they are being saved from landfill. Ideal for my working wardrobe.
Those of you who’ve been following me for a while will know that I can’t even let old jeans die completely. Look here and here for some examples.
What’s in your working wardrobe?
The skirt’s front pleat makes walking possible but I wasn’t happy with the original design (see here for reasons if you are interested in technical details). Above you can see the inverted pleat I made instead. I looked up pleats in my 1934 (ish) copy of Polkinghorne’s book and this was something they did, so it’s authentic. I’ve sewn it in place with hand topstitching as described in the instructions for this pattern.
I’ve found the process very soothing, turning the handle of my 1930s sewing machine, overcasting the seams by hand to stop them fraying. I’ve got the left side seam and placket to do next. This is very slow but satisfying sewing.
EmilyAnn is making great progress with her 1930s dress. If you’d like to try making your own pattern, her blog is the one to read.
Carol has some very interesting 1930s photos and sewing details if you like 1930s clothes.
Meanwhile, I have bought this to make the blouse.
I’ll have to change the neckline because the fabric’s cotton rather than “washing silk” and it won’t drape correctly but it’s definitely a 1930s style novelty print.
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Some of the blocks for my scrap double bed quilt.
I thought I had plenty but I had done my calculations on 12 inch blocks not the 10 inch ones I was actually working on. Oh dear!
I searched around for more scraps that could be included and cut them out but there weren’t enough. I went for a long walk and came up with this.
Dyeing a piece of self patterned white cotton fabric leftover from the quilt I made for my brother’s wedding several years ago. Enough to make borders. The revolting looking dyestuff is coffee grounds collected and saved in the freezer. It produced a lovely coffee colour!
I used milk as a mordant and left the fabric soaking for 24 hours, stirring and turning from time to time.
I didn’t solar dye this fabric because it was too big for any jar I have and at this time of year would take too long. So I waited for the solar panels to kick in, brought the fabric and dyestuff slowly to the boil, turned off the power and left them to cool naturally.
The only drawback is the difficulty of getting the coffee grounds off the surface of the fabric: a lot of rinsing and flapping in the breeze did it. On the plus side, the dye pot contents can be thrown on the compost heap without fear. They’d have been there anyway if I hadn’t been saving them.
I went through my wadding scraps but can’t come up with anything like enough to piece them to double bed size so I’ll have to buy wadding.
I have plenty of backing choices in store, including the good bits of old sheets or maybe pieced from large leftovers.
I can’t get any further until I have the wadding as I plan to strip piece columns straight to the wadding and backing. Take a look at Mary Fogg’s work if you you want to see wonderful quilts made using this method.
Thanks for dropping by.
PS. Linking this to Scrap Happy March.
I found the three inch windmill blocks in a drawer. I cannot remember when they were put together, but it must be a long time ago as I’m a bit better at matching points now. The individual pieces are tiny so I don’t think errors like that will show up – the quilt will be double bed size and these blocks make up only a tiny part of the whole.
I’m trying to clear myself some space in the room where I sit and sew. The amount of stuff I have in cupboards and drawers is invading my head as well as the room. If only I could get rid of my chest of drawers ….. so I’m on a stash busting mission. I went through all my scrap boxes and slightly bigger boxes trying to get fabrics which would blend. There are dressmaking leftovers from the late 1980s and early 1990s, recent leftovers, tiny bits of quilt fabric and because there wasn’t quite enough, my solar dyed pieces.
I’ll machine piece into 3 inch blocks before assembly. I want to produce one of those really old fashioned unplanned quilts such as our foremothers made out of every last leftover bit of fabric. And just in case you’re wondering, I am still hand sewing the tumbling blocks but that’s only for when a bit of hand sewing is needed.
After reading this post from Kate I am going to piece the wadding too and maybe the good bits of my stashed old sheets for the backing.
Remember the solar dyeing? Remember the summer?????
These were previously leftover pieces, some of them very small. I’ve cut them all up to include in this scrap quilt and I’m fascinated that every tiny piece is different. So much more interesting than the bits of commercial plain fabric I cut up.
1930s Dress Update
I am toying with the idea of dyeing my own fabric for my 1930s dress and maybe trying to get some shade variation. Only trouble is I think I want lavender or maybe purple and I don’t think I’ll get that with a natural dye. I’ll keep on thinking.
1,000 mile update
74 miles by foot and bike this month – weather forced me into the gym instead and I don’t count indoor miles.
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Filed under 1,000 mile challenge, 1930s, dressmaking, dyeing, patchwork, quilts, sewing, solar dyeing, stashbusting, textiles, traditional quilts
I’ve just finished this sort of memory quilt.
The circles are made of hand dyed fabrics I bought in a charity sale. The lady who dyed them is no longer with us and I wanted to use them so her work was not wasted.
The quilt wadding is a late 1940s / early 1950s Utility wool blanket belonging to my parents, used by them on their bed and eventually turned into a protective layer for my dining table. It’s very thin now but still tougher to sew through than regular wadding.
This is the back of the quilt and the curtain I made it from is pictured in this blog’s header. I brought it from my previous house but it was too small to fit here. Some of the fabrics are my dressmaking leftovers, reminding me of times past.
Meanwhile, the solar dyeing is still cooking in the greenhouse. We’ve had some very sunny weather recently and the jars actually feel hot during the day. It’s hard to know when to take the fabrics out – solar dyeing in a climate like this is tricky…
Thanks for dropping by. Have a great week.
Eco Colour by India Flint
This is a fantastic book if you want to try natural dyeing.
A friend introduced me to the concept of solar dyeing and encouraged me to get started. She has jars in sunny spots all around her garden whilst mine are in the greenhouse.
I have been organised and carefully labelled jars with details of mordants (tea, milk for instance), dyestuff used and date put into the jar. These are experiments and I don’t know how well they will turn out. It hasn’t been a particularly sunny summer here so that will no doubt affect the outcome. Maybe some of the jars will have to sit by the stove during the winter to get the dye to take.
If you have tried solar dyeing, please comment and let me know how you got on.
This one seems to be doing particularly well.
I’m using small pieces of cotton and linen for the experiment and I’ve got jars with hops, beech leaves, beetroot and onion skins on the go. Eventually, I want to try natural dyeing for clothes and for quilts but I don’t want to waste fabric by diving straight in without testing. It’s a long term project.
I got these from a charity fabric sale: tie-dyed cotton fabrics in toning colours. They use conventional dyes but they are very pretty and will make a lap quilt for certain.
Thanks for reading and have a lovely week.