Category Archives: Dyeing

More adventures in dye, and a fabric swap

Hand-dyed fabric

After my success with cotton lawn, I decided to level up and dye some silk. I chose this natural-coloured raw silk noile from Minerva. Mmmm, it’s lovely stuff. All nubbly and slightly rough in handle, but feels lovely to wear. It’s also crying out for some dye action, obviously.

Hand-dyed fabric

I first tried brushing and dappling the fabric with some silk paints. This wasn’t very successful for a number of reasons, chiefly bad colour choices and bad technique which led to the fabric looking like a mouldy old dishcloth. But HEY, there are no mistakes when it comes to dyeing! I just mixed up some dye and did a similar clothes-peg technique as before to cover the mess.

Hand-dyed fabric

This time I used Dylon black and navy blue hand dye sachets mixed together, hoping for a richly pigmented result. The colour turned out a pretty good appropriation of traditional Japanese indigo which I’m delighted about. I tried a few techniques again across a metre of fabric each. The main reason to make this fabric was actually to participate in Marilla’s hand-printed fabric swap. I was paired with Lucy of Reniqlo, whose lovely creative and artistic blog you should go have a look at. It was tricky to decide which piece to send her, but I plumped for the more interesting, intricate one.

Hand-dyed fabric

I was really happy with how this fabric turned out. I don’t think I could have ever cut it up if I kept it! There are so many details in it. Look, here’s a raccoon face.

Hand-dyed fabric

And some feathers:

Hand-dyed fabric

And a rams skull?

Hand-dyed fabric

I can’t exactly remember how I bound it, but I think it was pleated and rubber-banded. Here’s the piece I kept, with a more straightforward clothespeg resist pattern.

Hand-dyed fabric

Hand-dyed fabric

I made myself yet another zippy top – even with the same seaming detail as before. The silk noile is only 45″ wide so I really had to squeeze the pieces on – one half of the back is on the bias, the horror. I can whip up a zippy in under an hour now, French seams and bias bound neckline and all. Spoiler: pretty sure it will be my OWOP pattern.

Hand-dyed fabric

Finally, here is the fabric that Lucy sent me! WOW, I am absolutely in love with it. It’s dyed silver grey with just touches of tie-dye which have left white spine-like streaks in areas.

Hand-dyed fabric

Then painted with a gorgeous triangle design. I love triangles. I love mustard yellow and grey. What on earth shall I make with it?!

It’s been so fun to practice dyeing more, and especially to swap fabric as I’m not really sure how many more shibori-esque zippy tops I need. If anyone else fancies swapping fabrics sometime, just drop me a comment or email. Packages of mystery fabric are FUN.

Minerva Network: Shibori-ish tee

Shibori tee

Here’s my Minerva make for this month! I went a bit off-piste and used some plain cotton lawn fabric and Dylon dye with the intention of dyeing it myself in a kind of shibori style. The heat of summer made me really notice and appreciate the difference in breathability between natural and synthetic fibres, and this combed lawn is ever so soft and breezy.

Shibori tee

I’m so pleased with how the dye job came out. I didn’t take any process photos i’m afraid, but it was very simple. I just pleated both pieces in different ways, dunked them in the dye and salt mix for about half an hour, rinsed and left to dry.

Shibori tee

I started both with a piece half a metre long to be more manageable for folding. For the right hand side one here I folded it into 2″ pleats selvedge to selvedge, then clipped clothes pegs all along the length of the concertina to hold it in place (inspired by this project). For the other one I made wider pleats, then pleated the other way at 45-degree angles to make a fat triangle shape, then again used clothes pegs to hold the edges in place. Pretty spooky how it turned out with definite skull faces, right? The dye colour was Antique Grey by the way, but I like the greenish tint it came out with. The joy of dye, you never know quite what you’ll get.

Shibori tee

I wanted a simple top to showcase the dye job, so dug out the old See Kate Sew Zippy top. Sans zip, but with rolled cuffs which I achieved just by cutting the sleeves about 1.5″ longer, pressing back 1cm then again by 1″ and topstitching down. There’s something about the shoulders and hang of this pattern that I just love.

Shibori tee

I seamed my dyed panels back together, and after a bit of draping in the mirror decided to run the join up the centre to show both dye jobs next to each other. All the seams are Frenched and the neckline is finished with bias binding.

If you fancy a bit of DIY dyeing too, you can find the plain cotton lawn fabric and Dylon dye on Minerva. You can also see some more dye inspiration and tutorials on my Pinterest board.

Dyeing some old makes

I did a bit of a taking-stock exercise the other day: digging all the garments I’ve made out of my wardrobe and re-assessing the ones I’ve not been wearing very much. Generally my reason for not wearing something falls into one (or more) of three camps:
1. Never fitted well or no longer fits (I’ve lost a little weight over the year)
2. Doesn’t suit or isn’t consistent with my wardrobe/style
3. Not suitable for everyday wear and/or any occasions

I can address Reason 1 by taking items back to the machine for alterations, and I’ve got a little pile that needs reworking (namely my Tania culottes and Kelly skirt, both of which are too loose on the waist now.). Reason 3 is a bit trickier. I love my midcentury dress for example, but it’s a bit formal for everyday and a bit cleavagey for family things. Hmm. I’ll come back to you on that.

Reason 2 is often due to my colour or fabric choice. I’ve got much better at picking prints and colours that I feel comfortable in now, but some of my earlier makes have some questionable choices. So I selected a few garments that I thought would benefit from a little colour change.

dye

I’ve been seeing a lot of super cool dyeing techniques on sewing/refashioning blogs lately (photos above from Charity Shop Chic, SallieOh, Crab & Bee, Victory Patterns, book), and decided it was time to give it a go myself. Nineties throwback tie-dye this ain’t: the new trend seems to be inspired by traditional Japanese shibori, which typically uses indigo dye and complex folding and tying techniques to create intricate dye patterns.

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I couldn’t really do the technique properly because I already had completed garments to work with, not yardage. But I had a go at pleating and tying them up in the hopes of creating some interesting patterns. I used twine because I didn’t have any elastic bands to hand.

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Into the dye bath they go. I used two sachets of black Dylon hand dye with 500g salt.

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Pro tip from me to you: make sure your rubber gloves don’t have holes in, or you end up with tie-dyed hands too.

After a soak and rinse, here are my garments with their new looks!

I love how the chambray Scout came out the most. The placement of the dye is really cool: it looks a bit like a spine or ribcage because I folded it down the middle before rolling and tying. I never wore my Scout before as I thought it had a bit of a hospital scrubs vibe, but I love this new-look one.

The tie-dye effect didn’t really work on my previously-icky-pink raglan tee but at least it’s now a lovely shade of grey. There’s some faint pinkish streaks left which look a bit accidental so I might give it another dip sometime.

The ballet dress came out a bit odd: there’s a weird dark area at the top, but the skirt has some cool stripes. I might re-dip the entire top half in black to even it out. Not bad for a first try, and I learnt a lot to do differently next time.