Adventures in Natural Dyeing, Part II

A few weeks back when I posted about my recent attempts at dyeing with plant materials, I referred to having tried my hand at dyeing an entire garment with India Flint’s ecoprint technique. Now I’ve finally taken some photos, here’s the story:

Recently I went on a Grand Savers Expedition (I don’t go shopping, I go on Grand Expeditions) and kept an eye out for clothing that would work well for dyeing. I settled on a basic white cotton top that I could wear over summer.

To begin with the fabric was quite a bright white. White has never suited me very much and  I didn’t really want it as the base colour on something I’d be wearing. To fix this I took some  very old black loose-leaf tea I’d found in the bottom of the cupboard (well over a decade old and probably not so great for drinking) and dyed the whole garment an ivory colour. Much better!

Then I mordanted the fabric and got down to the more interesting part. I employed the same technique as last time and I used similar materials (i.e. brown onion skins and eucalyptus leaves), but omitted the mulberries and red onion skins, as I have somewhat of a juvenile aversion to pink. To be honest, I think that most of the resulting colour was due to the onion skins but there are some places where I think the eucalyptus came through.

(this photo is a bit ridiculous but I love it anyway because of the Super Dramatic Hair, courtesy of a friendly gust of wind)

I’m very happy with the end result. As I said, I think most of the colour came from the onion skins, but I definitely don’t regret using the eucalyptus too, for a number of reasons; even after being gently washed several times, the top still has a faint gum-trees-after-rain smell that I find very agreeable!

I’ve worn the top quite a few times already; the fabric is very soft and the fit is just right, so it’s super comfortable. I love to wear it with the floaty, ruffled, tiered skirt that I just finished sewing. The skirt itself I hardly feel is worth bragging about; while I’m still learning to sew and feel accordingly accomplished at having completed a garment, the worksmanship is emphatically not great. My sewing machine had multiple tantrums during the sewing process (I have an old hand-me-down sewing machine and a manual that only relates to different models and as such, sometimes the machine just goes nuts for no reason I am able to discern). As a result the stitching is embarrassingly messy, as are the gathers. Thankfully, the skirt is of a style where the messiness is somewhat hidden and/or excusable, so I’m actually very happy with it, despite its (many) flaws. It’s also incredibly comfortable and very cool in warm weather. So I’ll call the skirt a definite win, even if it isn’t really the best example of my sewing skills. After all, wasn’t I just saying the other day how much I want to make more clothes that I really love to wear?

Why yes, I do look like a massive hippie. But one can’t be a dour, black-clad Melbournian all year long. Especially when you’re holidaying in a small country beach town. For all that I love to rock the black and gray when I’m home, it never really feels right doing it up here.

On that note, holiday is progressing well. I’m being joined by some Melbourne friends in a few days time and we are intending to have All Manner of Fun. It’s pouring down with rain this morning though, so I think it might be time for a quiet day of reading and knitting. The stripey cardigan that is my current WIP is coming along quite well; I just need to finish the last sleeve. I always drag my feet terribly when it comes to sleeves; these have taken ages, even though they’re worked in the round and should theoretically be faster due to the lack of purling. Obviously I should knit more vests.

The rain also has other benefits. I’ve deployed some buckets in order to collect rainwater for my next natural dyeing experiment. Did I mention we have a happen to have a great many hibiscus plants growing in the yard up here?

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This entry was posted in colour, crescent head, dyeing, eco-prints, finished object, india flint, miscellaneous craft, natural dyeing, sewing, Uncategorized, weather. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Adventures in Natural Dyeing, Part II

  1. Melanie says:

    Wow, you will soon be crafting your entire wardrobe! Very impressive!

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