Crab Apple Dyeing: Part 3.

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I was tired of the remaining dye bath sitting about. I nearly threw it out without further use, but then I thought of something to do with it. I still had the white merino rib jersey left over from the Paua Inspired Cardi . I didn’t want to use it white, so I skimmed and reheated the dye bath, washed and vinegar rinsed the jersey, combined the two for an hour or two and got this nice yellowish creamy colour. The ungenerous might call it beige. Anyway, I like it. I’m hoping there is enough to cut a long sleeved Henley top. I could even use the crab apple dyed silk from Crab Apple Dyeing: Part 2 for trim perhaps. This exhausted the dyebath (almost no colour left in the water) so I could pour it away and clean everything up without feeling I’d lost an opportunity.

Crab Apple Dyeing: Part 2

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I had made a dyebath, but what to dye? I decided to do a test first. So I put a couple of tablespoons of the dyebath in a strong glass, added small scraps of a variety of fabrics and boiled it several times in the microwave. This pic is before heating:

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Here are the results after rinsing and drying. Original fabric and dyed scraps. From left to right there is cotton, linen, silk, wool fabric, wool yarn.

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I was not surprised to see that the protein fibres took the colour best. I still didn’t know what I wanted to dye in quantity. Sleeping on the decision meant I lay awake turning possibilities over in my head. Argh.

The dull gold colour didn’t seem that exciting, but not horrid either. I came up with two plans. One, that I would dye a portion of the 100g white skein Bendigo Woolen Mills sock yarn I bought on a whim several years ago. I’ve split that skein into four, with the idea that I might have a go at some other natural dyeing and make socks from whatever colours result. The other plan was to take some of the silk I bought cheaply from a warehouse closing sale and do a variety of shibori folded resist patterns. On the left is silk crepe, enough for a dress. Two different folds that should deliver a stripe and a spot/check. Plus a plain piece for trim. Then the sock yarn. To the right is a selection of folds in a plain weave silk habutai, enough for a shirt, or something.

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In the dyepot. I brought it to the boil, then added the fabric bundles. I let that all sit with a certain amount of poking and reheating for a couple of hours. Silk doesn’t really like being boiled, so I backed off from the “boil for an hour” instruction.

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Then I pulled all the cloth and thread out, rinsed it in warm water and hung it out. This is the fine plain weave silk. The patterns are there, but pale.

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Here is the silk crepe. This took the dye a bit better. All this fabric is still sopping wet, except the thin white piece above which I took out early because of cardboard failure.

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Darkest of all was the sock wool yarn.

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So some success. I’ll be interested in the look of the dry cloth and how fast the colour turns out to be. There is still colour in the dyepot, so I might put something else through tomorrow.

I will say that cardboard compression pieces are less than ideal for the shibori. They go soggy, fall apart and don’t do their job. I will look out for better stuff for use in future dyeing experiments.

Crab Apple Dyeing: Part 1.

An exercise in backwards project design. In stead of starting with the desire for an end product, I found myself with a raw material that I hadn’t planned for, and decided to work out a way to utilise it.

It all starts with my planting a crabapple tree in a too small space. I was pruning it each year to try to limit the size. I eventually did some research and concluded that I was just causing it to send up long unproductive growth. Basically it turns out that one can’t heavily prune a crabapple and still get fruit. Bother. So I decided to work towards pulling the tree out and replacing it with something more civilised.

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I had hacked off all the small branches and was enquiring as to which of my wood working friends wanted any of the sizable pieces. Another friend spoke up, saying that one can use the bark and twigs for dyeing. Oh, well then. I figured I had to try that.

I found this site which had something of a recipe. Happily, it didn’t seem to need any special mordant. I collected as much coloured bark and small twigs as I reasonably could, then filled the bucket that I was using with as many of the leaves as would fit. That little collection then sat on my back verandah for a couple of months. Then I looked at it and decided I simply must proceed, so the poor plastic bucket could be retired inside away from the nasty UV light.

Next step then was to boil up all that saved vegetation in water. I didn’t have oregano flowers, but I included some oregano sprigs just in case it helped. The recipe site also talks about doing the preparation in a copper pot. I have copper pots but they are all lined with either tin or stainless steel. So I sat the outside of a small one in the boil in case that was important.

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I loved making “witches brews” out of random things in the garden when I was a small child. This process touched that nerve, in a good and grin making way.

Here is what the liquor looked like straight after I put hot water over the veg mass. I reckon we will get a yellow dye, not a red one as the recipe says.

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This is after an hour simmering:

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Then leave it sit for a week, strain off the liquid which becomes the dyebath.

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There is certainly some pigment there. There is also a bit of mould, which I figured meant I had to get right on to trying the actual dyeing.

To be continued…………..

Serious Warm, Serious Remodel

Wanting to capture this project on the blog, I’m converting a bunch of small FB posts to one simplified blog entry.

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I love the garment on the right*, pictured above. In the cold evenings at a recent event, I decided that a version of it in seriously warm cloth would have enhanced my life. The garment on the left is seriously warm cloth (heavy wool coating with a strong nap) but I hated it. It was ill conceived and I didn’t wear it. So I chopped up the garment on the left  into rough pattern pieces and split it into two halves, meaning to dyeing each pile a different colour.  Two colours because:
1. The gear I have won’t allow me to dye the whole thing in one go, and if I don’t, the two halves won’t match.
2. Particoloured is a perfectly authentic option
3. If I can’t have stripes or some other interesting cloth, bright particolour is about as fun as it gets.

If the whole transformation were not to work, at least the huge pale coat will still be out of the wardrobe. If it does work, I’ll have the toasty warm particoloured gown that I want without having to buy the fabric.

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I really love dyeing stuff. It’s so transformative. The seriously warm fabric took up dye really easily too, so even though I did two dye baths for each half, I still got it all done in a little over 3 hours. The simple red and green I started with came out too bright and candy like. So I softened them with additions of yellow and black.

The first try was using 2 bottles red, 1.5 bottles green, both Queen brand food dye (all I had). I wasn’t surprised that these came out too stark for what I wanted.

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To soften these I added half a bottle of yellow and a small slosh of black to the red. The last of my McCormick blue and two sloshes of black to the green. Much better.

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I’m fairly pleased with these colours. The green is less even than the red, due to rapid uptake of the red parts of the black dye. My choice of colours was influenced by what I thought I could achieve with these dyes in large volumes, plus what I want to wear and what might be plausibly medieval.

Then I had to cut out the proper pattern pieces. Sadly I didn’t manage to be as clever as I would have liked. Cutting a particoloured garment from fabric with a very definite right side has pitfalls. I anticipated some correctly, so the fronts and backs make a proper set. However, I switcheroonied the side panels front to back and the sleeves left to right. Wrong side out was completely unacceptable. Random colour placement was not welcome either.

I managed to fix my idiocy by swapping the back and front pieces. This was made possible because I had enough offcuts to recut new upper back pieces to give the needed width and higher neckline. Just a few extra seams needed.

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Here is the new gown all assembled. Not finished. Lots of hand sewing still needed. Ideally, I’ll get rid of the overlocking and whip all the seams down. Eventually. I dared not forgo overlocking against all the handling needed for the dyeing. I thought I’d be able to lose it in the cutting out, but fitting the pieces into available fabric was tighter than I’d thought it would be.

Bit of a transformation eh? Once I decided it had to go, that pale coat was just raw material. I have a silly fancy that the finished shape of the serious warm is rather Dr Seuss.

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and here it is on so you can see the fit. My take on these gowns is that they need to fit well in the upper body and arms to capture both the proper look and maximum elegance. Not full 14thC presentation, the stretch skivvy is fully anachronistic.

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*an early 14th C overgown based on several from the Taymouth Hours.

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Custom yarn from scrap

I decided to let my next sock recipient nominate her preferred colours. “Reds and Blues” she said. The sock wool stash had no red, but there was a variagated pink/orange. I had dark navy and some pale blues, but no nice bright blues.

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Woo hoo, an excuse to do some dyeing! the pinks are now red, which my camera is refusing to capture properly. The blues are now deeper, brighter and much more fun. I plan to use the navy for the toes, and maybe cuffs? I’ll use the newly dyed yarn in broad stripes with spiral joins I think. I reckon I’ll enjoy knitting these.

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Resurrection

Isn’t it nice when a plan works? My thoughts on how to best resurrect that well worn coat were enacted pretty much exactly. First I removed the lining. It was cut away from the sleeve slits and cuffs. Only the front and neck facings were unpicked. My take on unpicking these days is very much to minimise it. If one can get away with cutting the unwanted parts away, then do. Life is too short and my arm’s work capacity is limited.

Then the wool outer was washed, gently.  Then I dyed some of the fine but strong and hard wearing beige wool suiting in stash to a nice green. It didn’t go quite as dark as the forest green would have liked but the hue is really good.

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Then I cut a deep facing for all the edges (except the hem)from the newly dyed cloth and applied it by machine except for the hem finishing. This will be fine for it’s intended use and the whole refurbishment still took me about a day of labour spread across three. Oh and I top stitched down all the seams because they are no longer protected by a lining. Plus I added straight grain reinforcing for some seams, such as the shoulders. It won’t last for forever but should do another couple of years.

From this:

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To this rather more respectable version:

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The owner is pleased. As he should be.

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Cold Shoulder Cardigan

I’ve worn this cardigan for several winters. It’s wonderfully soft and warm, but I’ve been finding the colour really boring.

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It was bought as a man’s cardigan from a factory outlet in NZ. After a few wears, I cut a bunch of fullness out of the shoulders to reshape it for me. This is the excised portion, shoulder seam at the top, sleeve seam at right.

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Now I’ve added some colour for fun using my food dyeing tricks. In the process, I discovered just how much water can be drawn through wool overnight. Capillary action I’m told. I’m so glad I put the red end in a bowl!

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Here it is dyed and dried. I’m pretty pleased, though I think it’s felted a little in the dyed sections. Still fits though, thankfully.

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For extra fun, I overdyed some grey yarn to match with the intention of making a hat to go with it.

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Paua Inspired Cardi

I have lots of cardigans but I’ve been wanting a light weight loosely fitting one. Most of my existing ones fit on the firm side. So I took some white pure wool rib knit fabric that I had bought very cheaply, and cut an embiggened and flared version of my Tshirt pattern. I did a few rounds of pin fitting and chopping bits off before I was happy with the shape and ran it up on the overlocker. It was still too large, but then I remembered that the rib was likely to tighten when washed. So stopping at that point felt wise.

I put it to soak in some warm vinegared water for a bit, and yes, it did tighten up. Then I had fun with a dye pot, trying for an elegant gradient effect of some sort using green/blue/red dyes. I wish I’d taken a shot of the before version laid out on the table, but I’d been too keen to get to the dyeing. Here is the result from the dyeing but before finishing, next to the leftover starting fabric. I love it!

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The buttons look like they were made for it. Instead they were a serendipitous stash gift from a friend.

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The label shot. I did a subtle prick stitch by hand around the neckline to keep the seam from rolling. The same trick was used at the bottoms of the arm and side seams to neaten the hem edge. Oh, the hems are done with just a zigsag stitch on a regular sewing machine, but with silk thread so it would take the dye along with the wool.

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Here it is on, pre dye (see, it’s too big at this stage):

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and finished:

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The sleeves are too long but if I shorten them now, I’ll lose the full effect of the dye job. Other than that I’m really pleased with it.

 

Under-Skirt Leggings

Not an exciting project but I have been meaning to make some short leggings to wear under dresses for summer comfort. I had a piece of knit fabric in what I think is viscose/elastane in a slightly mucky white (from someone else’s stash again), but I didn’t want white. I decided to use a packet of Rit dye from stash on both this and a length of white pure cotton fine knit (actually bought by me!). The cotton went a pleasant neutral colour* but the viscose just went a slightly deeper shade of dinge. Oh well, I need test the pattern with something, and these aren’t really meant to be seen.

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I drew a pattern from two pairs of my winter wool leggings. The fold you can just see at the knee end is the cut edge for the ones made today.

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Then cut and made it up in the dingy viscose. First pair I stuffed up by sewing the wrong bits of leg together. On the overlocker of course so I cut the seams off and resewed with minimum seam. That pair is a bit tighter than it should be but still wearable I think. I managed to make a second pair to pattern. Really, the pattern is for fabric with a bit more lengthwise stretch, but these will do for now. I didn’t hem them. I like the very smooth finish of the cut edge. If they go manky in the wash, I’ll just shorten them to above knee with a proper hem.

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I’ll share a picture of them on, but only with a skirt over top.

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*I mean to make tshirts from this and my favourite summer tshirts are either black or shades of urk- cream, ecru, mole.

Lacy Handbag Resurrection

A few months ago, a friend invited me over to go through her remaining fabric stash and take what I wanted. Very generous. Amongst the bag of bits I took home was this old hand crocheted bag that had seen better days. I wanted to have a go at making it both useful and pretty again and give it back to the lady.

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You can see above that the outer section of the lacy edge was quite badly damaged. My first thought was to fix that by sewing it together, using beads to enliven it. I started doing that but the fibres were just falling apart as I worked. So instead, I decided to snip off the worst of the damage. Thankfully the crochet was worked in rounds so taking off the outer section was easy.

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Here it is sans damaged section.

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I was sad about having to lose that lovely depth of lace trim. So to both replace the fancy and give back some weight and drape, I decided to sew the beads all around the edge. Besides, doing that was fun. The beads are a mix of ones I had in my stash.

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Beginning the bead trim:

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It needed a strap. I was a bit stumped for what to use until I thought of plaiting one from a mix of almost right colours. Thread from my stash. I think it looks quite good.

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Then I built a liner for it. The blue silk I hand dyed. I had hoped for a more purple colour, but this is what I got and it’s pretty as is. The green is lightweight cotton drill from another friend’s stash rejects.

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It has a pretty zippered pocket in a mix of colours

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Then I stitched the liner to the lace outer around the opening edge. I forgot to get pictures of that. Here is the whole thing finished though:

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and a good detail of the beading with the liner in place

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She should have it by now. I very much hope she likes it.