My dyeing and painting tunic
The original me made skirt
I wear many clothes to destruction. They’re only fit to be turned into cleaning rags or if there are good bits, maybe some bits of quilt fabric. But I can’t find a photo of me wearing this skirt, maybe that’s because I didn’t wear it very often.
I have a “thing” about clothes that I don’t wear much. I feel sad when I see them hanging there wasted. Some such things just go straight to the charity shop: they’re too good (and too unloved) to be used for something else.
To refashion it: I took off the top of the skirt where the darts were, made armholes and bound the edges. I made more buttonholes so that it would cover me better.
Then I tried it on.
It needed shaping badly so I used some large black buttons to pull it in and give me some shape.
Next came pockets – a working tunic has to have pockets… It was lucky that I had a few bits of the original fabric left because the bits I’d cut off the skirt just wouldn’t stretch to two pockets.
I don’t know why the pockets look blue on the photo – they are definitely black.
And that’s all: I’ve worn the tunic a lot and I’ve even had compliments on it. It’s a simple but successful refashion.
What do you do with your failures? Do you enjoy refashioning? I’d love to hear from you.
Have a fun week.
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.
Thanks for dropping by,
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for dropping by.
A different way of using up my scraps – a fabric pot made with fairly stiff string and the scraps from a hand dyed quilt. Shame not to use them.
There are plenty of instructions to make fabric pots out there on YouTube but these are the basics:
Cut or tear strips of fabric about 1 inch or 3/4 inch wide – depends on the thickness of your string – and wrap the strips tightly around the string making sure that no string shows. Start coiling your string and zigzag stitch the coils together.
My machine can cope with fairly tough string and rope given a jeans needle and some very strong thread – machine quilting thread, hand quilting thread (has to be used on the upright spindle of my sewing machine as the thread is wound straight) and semi-industrial thread.
New strips of fabric are wrapped in as you go along. When the base is large enough, tilt the pot to make the sides. Keep going until you have the size you want, then neatly sew in the ends of the string and fabric.
I cut my fabric on the straight grain as this is the neatest way – if you use bias strips it’s hard to finish neatly at the end – but practise will show you what’s best for you.
It’s not an easy technique to describe and is better demonstrated – if there is any interest I could do a picture tutorial.
I made several pots before I worked out how to get them looking right. Since then I have made dozens including tiny ones with crochet cotton inside and a wool tweed one with no string inside. It’s something I love doing.
I collect my eggs in a fabric pot and I carry my shopping in one and they’re all made from leftover fabric.
The shopping basket is made with rope bought from the local farmer’s store. All the fabrics are leftovers – my own and other people’s.
Rosyragpatch’s blog has the original quilt here if you’re interested.
Linking to Tall Tales from Chiconia – Scrap Happy February. Why not pop over and see what other people have done with their scraps.
Thanks for dropping by.
I’m knitting again!
I gave up knitting after a lot of bad experiences but with the help of some friends I’ve started again. This isn’t my first attempt recently, but it is the one I am most proud of.
The wool is Jaeger Donegal Spun – I found lots of it in a charity shop but the only identifier was a sticky label, no tension, no ball band…I searched the internet without success: there were no patterns that I could find.
After a lot of thought and one or two false starts, I knitted it into two pieces and then I felted them in the washing machine. It took more than one go and I think I should probably have knitted it on bigger needles. More experienced friends said that looser knitting tends to felt better.
I cut it into bag shape, lined it with linen left over from one of my pattern free tops, made a linen handle and fastened it with handmade wooden buttons bought from the maker years ago simply because I loved them.
And now some notes:
- It might be easier to knit the bag and then shrink it – I’ll try that another time
- Knit on bigger needles
- I used the 90 degree Centigrade cotton wash to shrink the knitting
- Clean the washing machine filter – wish I’d done this sooner, I thought I needed to get the machine repaired. Well, I did do a stack of sweaters too….
Three of the patchwork bedcovers I’ve been involved in making at the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton, West Sussex.
All the fabrics are as close to those used in the late nineteenth century as possible. The hexagon and squares were pieced over papers using English paper piecing as was the middle of the medallion quilt top left.
There are other patchworks and some quilted clothing. I’ll post some more photos over the next few months.
I’m hosting a day’s workshop on 22nd May at the museum and really looking forward to it.
Ever wondered what to do with old pairs of jeans, worn to indecency?
Well, this is what I did. I was inspired by the Japanese Boro work to make this lap quilt. Some of the jeans are stretch so they were quite hard to work with but the embroidery stitches helped to stabilise those patches.
I don’t like to throw things away if I can help it and this was a fun way of using up fabric.
And old shirts make up the reverse.
Pre-used fabric is harder to work with than standard quilting cottons – it moves more if it’s well washed shirts and it’s very tough and worn if it’s old jeans.
I don’t think the results would stand comparison with quilts made from brand new fabric but recycling is in the quilting tradition and I like to think I am in that tradition. What do you do with your very old clothes – the ones the charity shops would spurn? Do you quilt? Make bags? I’d love to know. You can see what I’ve done with them before here.
On a completely different subject, I’ve signed up for Ilona’s 1,000 mile challenge. I plan to walk the dog, run and cycle my 1,000 miles.
Enjoy your week.