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.
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:
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?
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.
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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.
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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Transformed charity shop blouse – frills cut off, buttons changed, colour changed, white polyester stitching covered over with new stitching, fully mended.
Colour – It smelt of dead badger after being dyed with onion skins so I left it in coffee for a week in the greenhouse. The colour looks much paler here because of all the amazing sunshine we’re having – I’m not complaining. To get some idea of the colour, the wall you can see behind it is yellow. The blouse is coffee cream and still smells a bit. To solve that, I have a small bottle of cheap vodka to make into a spray – Frankie Beane kindly found the idea on the internet for me.
Buttons – the cream square ones are probably vintage and were found by a friend in a charity shop, but there weren’t enough so I’ve mixed in some others.
Polyester thread just won’t dye using normal methods and most shop bought clothes are sewn with it. The solutions are either unpicking or sewing over the top and making a feature of it.
More solar dyeing
I got some more dock leaves for the linen top and it’s now getting its third dunking. the sun has been strong this last few days and I plan to dry it and then do some berry dyeing.
In case anyone is wondering, docks are a weed, grow abundantly here and are often sprayed to get rid of them. I wouldn’t use anything scarce.
Thanks for dropping by,
I’ve had two attempts at solar dyeing my oneyearone outfit Irish linen top. It is now vaguely yellow but not yet the colour I hoped for. I am thinking of using berries for the next stage – you can see reddish patches on the wet fabric and I think I would like more of those.
Dock leaves stink when they’re soaking so they spent time in the greenhouse rather than the house. Oddly though, the smell went after I left the top out overnight. I am leaving it untouched until I find the right dye. According to this book:
the longer you leave the dye before rinsing the better. And I think the book is wonderful, so I’m following the instructions as carefully as possible.
Much smellier is this:
This is a charity shop blouse (frills now cut off) that I’ve solar dyed in onion skins. It was left for 9 days in the greenhouse and came out that lovely orangey gold. You can see it’s covered in flies & I’m really not suprised. I left it out for 24 hours but have now washed it in soap flakes. It’s clean, pale cream and smelly – worse than the decaying badger I ran past today. Not onion but just horrible. Will it go? I don’t know. It’s still pegged to the covered washing line – I’m trying to keep it in the shade to avoid more fading. It’s a pretty colour now but not wearable because of the smell.
So, no especially successful projects so far but I’ll keep trying & let you know what happens.
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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 have decided to take part in #oneyearoneoutfit 2016. The aim is to make an outfit from local materials, some buying is permitted and so is secondhand. Have a look at This is Moonlight for the “rules”.
There are sheep in the fields around here and I know that a lot of their wool sells for very little. Wool has been replaced by polyester for so many purposes and we can get other natural fibres from around the world for very little money. It’s seeing all these sheep that’s made me feel that I would like to try using local fibres to make my clothes.
I don’t really know what’s available yet. The photographs above show a shawl I am knitting from wool raised and spun in the UK and the fabric for my new skirt which is Welsh wool. The knitting yarn is almost certainly not natural dyed and I don’t know yet about the fabric. The #oneyearoneoutfit rules specify non-synthetic dyes readily available in the locality so at the very least the shawl doesn’t qualify.
All sorts of questions come to mind:
What about thread? Footwear? Buttons? Are there non-wool fibres available too? Can I get good colours from the plants in my garden? What area should my “fibreshed” cover? I wasn’t able to source Irish linen for my 1930s dress, so will I find another source? – linen I can dye myself.
If you have ideas and opinions I’d love to hear them. Please let me know what you think.
Here are some of the colours I’ve managed to get from my solar dyeing experiments. Docks, coffee grounds and onion skins are my favourites so far. All of the fabrics are made from plant fibres so I soaked them in milk as a mordant. I wonder if I can extend this from scraps to my potential wardrobe. I’ll be giving it a try.
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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
Some results of my solar dyeing experiment.
The dark fabrics are dyed with onion skins. The fabric on the right is a linen damask napkin – it had already been dyed bright yellow by mistake and the solar dyeing has improved it. The rest is cotton.
Mordants for the linen and the long piece were tea followed by milk. The squarer piece was mordanted with milk only: that seems to have given a darker colour. The fabrics were in the jars for two months.
I love everything about the onion skin dyed fabrics: the colours are gorgeous especially in real life and I emptied the entire contents of the dye pot onto the compost heap without fear but there is one snag….
It has taken a fair bit of effort to get rid of that onion smell!!
Solar Dyed Spotted cottons.
Both mordanted with alum. The one on the left was dyed for two weeks in coffee grounds. On the right are pieces dyed for two weeks with dock leaves. These were done earlier in the summer when the sun was stronger but I’m sure the results would have been better if left for longer.
I put far too much fabric in the jar with the docks so the effect is a bit too patchy. I will probably overdye it next spring. This is definitely a very slow process.
There are still jars containing beech leaves, hops and beetroot in the greenhouse. Something is definitely happenning to the first two but I think the beetroot is a lost cause and I’ll empty that soon. What I don’t know is whether the solar dyeing process will continue over the winter. Should I bring the jars into the house over the winter? If anyone has tried this I’d be glad to know.
Thanks for dropping by.
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.