Milky Merino: First effort

Last year, I managed (with a little help from cossack design) to acquire some milky merino knit fabric. I have been thinking that if I want to make all my own clothing I will need to learn how to make turtle neck, knit, long sleeved tops for winter and T shirts for summer (though perhaps it will be years before I wear out my current collection of T shirts–and people keep giving them to me)!  I decided to try a pattern I bought some time ago.  Then I managed to trace a pattern from a garment I already have and like to wear and cut one of those from the length of fabric I had as well.


I was feeling positively gleeful about the potential for two garments to emerge from this experiment.  Many other dyers–see examples here, here and here have had beautiful results dyeing this fabric.

  IMAG1903 (1)

I’m delighted with these results.


I also dyed the little samples that came in the pack, neatly enclosed in my soup ball:




This thread has since been applied to a ‘beloved tree’ banner.


That was all very well.  I sewed my garment together, only to discover that I had succeeded in shrinking the fabric… and more in one direction than the other.  In the end, I gave the garment to a smaller friend and she adjusted it to fit her.  She looks wonderful in it!  Now I am building up my nerve to sew the second turtleneck together and see who that will fit!


Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

12 responses to “Milky Merino: First effort

  1. The results are fantastic! I’m sorry that it shrank up so much. 😦
    Did you wash and dry the fabric before you cut it out and eco printed it?
    I’ve laundered mine once….. haven’t gotten up the ‘nerve’ to cut it out yet. But maybe I should launder it again, and dry it, just to be sure it has finished shrinking?


    • Isn’t the colour glorious? I didn’t pre-wash. I don’t know what I can say about all the things I do wrong and forget in life… I always pre-wash woven fabrics, but didn’t think to pre-wash this. I use a lot of recycled fabrics (which have been washed over and over before dyeing)… I just didn’t think of it this time. And to be honest, it is a lot less stretchy than many stretch fabrics. There is already a part 2 to this story which turns on the low stretch factor… and another garment in pieces that is almost certainly also smaller than I anticipated! I haven’t had so much shrinkage happen with eco-printing before. The fabric is tightly tied and that seems to be protective…. but not this time 🙂 I honestly don’t know whether this result is peculiar to the way I treated the fabric, or a tendency this fabric has. I think you’ve done the sensible thing by laundering first, but I personally will print first and cut later next time, and assess the level of stretch carefully before I cut. Call me one bitten…!


      • Ahhh, if you can learn from only one mistake, you are way ahead of me!!
        I have never sewn knit fabric before…. that is one reason I have been hesitating to do something with my milky merino. Plus I am waiting for the ‘perfect’ leaves! ha ha ha…. all leaves are perfect, maybe I should have said ‘super special’ leaves?
        Isn’t it a property of this fabric that it is a wool that can be machine washed? Maybe that just means that it won’t felt…. not that it won’t shrink.


      • Thanks for your kindness… My top tips for sewing knits would be (if using a machine) to choose a stitch that can stretch and to use a stretch needle. I felt pretty precious about this fabric too, and held onto it for ages before bundling it. The finished garment looks utterly lovely on my (smaller) friend. In the end, that is a great outcome, just not the one I planned!


  2. Wow. That is glorious colour.


  3. yes, WOW to the colour! but I have never had a problem with shrinkage of silky merino, and I have boiled my bundles for a good hour at least. in fact I think I have stretched it by hanging up the finished garment wet (dresses with a deep hem of velvet which weighs it down, of course), so I really don’t understand that. I suppose you have steam pressed it, which I find stretches it a bit too … how sad 😦


  4. ooops, oh I mistook, you are talking about milky merino! (too early in the morning) I have used that too, but like you thought it a little unstretchy, and had only used it for wraps, except for making a pair of sleeves for a dress of silky merino when I had run out of the silky. I can’t say I have noticed shrinkage though you wouldn’t when it’s just a great big rectangle.


    • Silky merino is a whole other thing, isn’t it? Much stretchier and also a glorious fabric… thanks for your kind comments…


      • AND, I find the milky very twisted … a problem sometimes with jersey, though so was the first batch I bought of the silky, with several holes in it too. Beautiful Silks apologised for that and gave me a discount.
        I have just made a jacket out of some beautiful double sided cotton jersey, using a friend’s overlocker, which does a great 4 thread stitch suitable for constructing and finishing all in one. I had great fun making up a whole garment so quickly. I did have an accident with the blade putting the collar on, got the fabric caught and took a lump out. luckily as it was an improvised pattern there was room to redo it and lose an inch. not sure if I will buy one, as I do love hand sewing in the evenings, and the silky merino deserves a more reverential approach … I have been much too precious about it to put it anywhere near my sewing machine, even with a zigzag stitch. actually I have tried that with another (boring pre-dyed) merino jersey and I really didn’t like the result. I am not patient with sewing machines.
        you are very good at making your friends happy! lucky friends 🙂


      • An overlocker can be a wonderful thing, but when you make a mistake… It can be fast and very large! I love my machine. My overlocker was a gift from my grandma when she became too blind to use it. It is a bit complicated, but it is a fine thing thinking of her when I use it!


  5. Great colour and such lovely prints …. shame about the shrinkage can’t say its ever happened to me…. but I do hate milky merinos tendency to roll and twist …. and I have found silky merino not much better.


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