Tag Archives: slow sewing

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

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

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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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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Filed under #1year1outfit, 1930s, Clothes, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, Knitting, sewalongs, sewing, textiles

A Very Local Skirt

This is it- my slowly sewn, 1934 oneyearoneoutfit skirt. It’s an all wool winter skirt and I can hardly wait to wear it. It’s not very photogenic  (like me sadly!) but looks lovely in reality. It’s the same pattern as this linen skirt but I’ve added a back pleat (as worn by Mrs Durrell in The Durrells), dropped the waistline and lengthened it to just above my ankles.

I chose a visible button fastening instead of the invisible snap panel. Although I do have some British made snaps from the days when factories here still made that sort of thing I decided to go with these lovely buttons.

Close up of the pleat topstitching – it’s the same back and front.

Now for the nitty gritty :

Fabric : Bought from Cambrian Wool, it’s a herringbone weave using Jacob wool in its natural colours.

The wool came from a farm in West Carmarthenshire and was spun at the Natural Fibre Company when it was still operating in Lampeter.

It was woven at Melin Teifi at Drefach Felindre. This is the location of the National Woollen Museum of Wales.

Buttons : Bought from a local craftsperson at the Wool & Willow Festival held at the Minerva Art Centre in Llanidloes. They are made from blackthorn.

Thread: Unravelled from the fabric and surprisingly strong. The darts were sewn with some very fine thread spun by my kind friend using fleece from sheep farmed in the local community. I was worried about sewing the hem invisibly with wool thread, but I needn’t have worried because it can’t be seen at all.

Overall : I love this skirt. It’s entirely handsewn so it was very slow to make. It was enjoyable though! I’m getting into handsewing.

Except for the linen at the waistline it is made entirely from very local Welsh products – I would guess that everything comes from less than a 100 mile radius of my home.

I don’t like waistbands and my 1934 pattern doesn’t use one either so I went with the undyed linen. It helps to stop the waist stretching.

What would I change?

I think it may need a lining to make it a very long lasting garment. I also feel that a winter skirt without a lining isn’t really right – does anyone agree? I may add one in time.

EmilyAnn has been sewing 1930s with me. A lot of very interesting topics have come up, including 1940s laundry. I recommend you to take a look.

If you are wondering what oneyearoneoutfit is, take a look here.

I have been busy over the summer, although not blogging. There’s a completed linen top – dyed with garden dyes – waiting to be blogged. And I’ve been knitting up some local wool. More to follow…

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

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Solar Dyed and Upcycled

Now

Transformed charity shop blouse – frills cut off, buttons changed, colour changed, white polyester stitching covered over with new stitching, fully mended.

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Then

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,

Norma x

 

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More solar dyeing

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:

Eco Colour by India Flint

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.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

 

 

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Filed under #1year1outfit, Clothes, dyeing, fashion, India Flint, solar dyeing, textiles

#OneYearOneOutfit Progress

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OneYearOneOutfit is really underway now I’ve sewn the Merchant & Mills top. It’s a bit dull at the moment because it’s waiting to go in the dye pot for solar dyeing. The mordant was a carton of sour milk and the first dye will be dock leaves unless I spot something better in the meantime.

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The facts :

Fabric : undyed medium-weight Irish linen bought from a re-enactment trader on Ebay.
Thread: linen from the above fabric run through beeswax (bought from a Farmers’ Market). Obviously, it wasn’t possible to use thread like this in a sewing machine.
Seams : backstiched and then hand overcast to finish.
Hems: hemstitched by hand.
Pattern : Merchant & Mills long sleeved Curlew top from their Workbook. Lining omitted.
Next step: the dye pot!

It took me about 8 hours excluding cutting out – I should think 2 hours would be plenty if I were using a sewing machine. I really like the pattern by the way, and will make it up some other way when I get time.

Why am I doing all this?

I’m trying to make an outfit from my own “fibreshed”, which I believe to mean the British Isles.

So far, I’ve managed to get natural Irish linen fabric and very local undyed Welsh woollen fabric but I haven’t been able to buy threads.

For the linen fabric it seemed best to take short lengths from the fabric itself and wax it for smoothness and strength.

For the wool fabric, my generous friend has very kindly offered to spin me some local wool thread – I’ve had a go with her sample and it works well.

Dyes have to be natural and growing in the fibreshed for this project so I’ve opted for hedgerows, fields and gardens around my home village in mid Wales. I’ll probably keep overdyeing the linen top until I’ve got the colours I like.

If you’re interested in the project, take a look at the principles and the participants here.

Enjoy your week.

Norma x

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Filed under #1year1outfit, Clothes, dressmaking, fashion, sewing, textiles

No pattern tops for starters

Following on from my posting here, I thought I’d show my no pattern tops. They are very good tee shirt replacements for everyday life. This one used 1.5 metres of 1.2m wide fabric. As I’m trying not to save scraps, I’ll make the remainder into one of my fabric pots and some bias binding – both to sell over the summer if I’m lucky.

Me Made May Day 7

A younger me wearing one made from a charity shopped Liberty print skirt

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And the whole collection…

They are all different, but all made by tucking and manipulating fabric to fit my shape. Buttons are my favourite fastenings so they always feature in these tops and dresses.

Odd? Yes, I suppose so, but they can be quite pretty, they are cool to wear and they don’t use much fabric. The dress was made from only 1 metre of 1.5m wide fabric.

Meantime on the 1930s front, I have a blouse I made a while ago which I think will make a good starting point for this:

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Thank you to all those of you who offered sugestions as to where I could find a pattern – I think going through all your suggestions helped me to realise that I actually had something that I could use. I’ll show you soon.

EmilyAnn has some interesting pointers to share on her 1930s dress toile. I am learning a lot from her methods.

And for the #oneyearoneoutfit project, I’ve started sewing the bias Irish linen top. I’ve unpicked some of the threads from the fabric to use as sewing thread as I’ve been unable to source any suitable linen thread. To make it usable I stick to short lengths (about 12 inches)  and pull it through a beeswax block. It seems strong enough. Obviously, handsewing is the only way to do it.

Once I’ve made the top I plan to dye it with plants from my garden (or maybe my neighbours’ fields).

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

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Filed under #1year1outfit, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dresses, dressmaking, sewing, textiles