Of Aprons and Alchemy

Some years ago, I made an apron at an India Flint workshop.  It’s an ingenious design India has created which starts with a shirt with a collar and ends with a coverall with straps that cross over at the back.  This model also has some stitched-on panels creating a generous length at the back.


I brought this garment home to dye it, and it would be fair to say that I never loved the outcome (friends who were consulted recently liked it more than I did).  And, it had some large holes for which I was responsible and which I had a lot of [bad] feelings about having created.  In short, this garment has been in the naughty corner (the place garments go to wait when I have been naughty) for some extended time.  But then, India put up an online course called The Alchemist’s Apron.   It is further supported by an online community of eager stitchers and dyers from all round the world on facebook.  I was lucky enough to be gifted an enrolment (Thank you India!)–and this turned out to be the trigger for getting the apron out of the naughty corner and into my hands again.


First step, give it a wash and soften it up a bit (soy mordant no doubt was responsible for starching it a little).  Second step, mending. Mending is an evening occupation for me, thus the mood lighting… I have learned some things about mending since these holes appeared and decided to use several different strategies.

Some mends went over the hem (they were the most discouraging). These round-ish mends I especially like.

Once that was done, a second pass through the soy mordanting process, a wander around my neighbourhood by bicycle collecting leaves, and a bundle up with home made string (hems and seams left from cutting up and recycling clothing, in this case).


I do love eucalyptus.


The mends still stand out but I think that is OK, because #visiblemending!  I had chosen linen patching and cotton thread, which did rather guarantee they would stand out as the patches are mostly in the added border at the back of the apron which is cut from a recycled op shop raw silk pant suit a friend gave me.


I like the new apron much more!


And here is the back view… with the button placket still sporting buttons.  It’s a bit glorious now, I think. Do you have things waiting in the naughty corner?  How do they get there, and more importantly, what motivates you to get them out again?



Filed under Natural dyeing, Sewing

14 responses to “Of Aprons and Alchemy

  1. This is fabulous. Couldn’t afford her online class sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Khendra

    I like it now a lot better than before, too! Such great colours! Too sad eucalypts don’t grow here (but I harvested my madder roots and am really looking forward to red dyeing).
    Naughty corner, nice description. I have loads of stuff sitting there. Posts like this make me think about it and maybe get a few things out of there. So thank you for motivation! (As always 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooooh, madder! With madder to play with, the absence of eucalypts will be so much less hard to bear, I feel 🙂 I find the naughty corner an interesting space. So often it has things sitting in it because I need to make decisions that I am resisting making, or find confidence that is lost or absent. Hoping some things move out of your naughty corner, whether to be cut up and reimagined, as Lynda put it so delightfully, or to be finished at last.


  3. Things in my naughty corner are usually there because I dove in head first and I wasn’t ready for the task (overwhelmed). They come out, sometimes years later, because I rediscover them and I am up to the task. If they really no longer have interest, then they get cut up and re-imagined.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How brilliant to be prepared to dive into something and see if you can pull it off (and then wait until you can complete the project, if necessary). With that kind of approach you’ll succeed at so many bold projects, Lynda. I have this experience sometimes. For example, on this apron I found I had developed several new mending strategies in the period that apron sat in the naughty corner, and I had also acquired the ability to enjoy some of the mends, which I certainly did not have them when the holes *cough* appeared. But sometimes it is really confidence that is missing. When I actually tackle the thing finally I realise it was not as fearsome as I first thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I loved your borro mending. It is next to try when I need to fix a hole. At the moment I have a wool coat that has been in the naughty corner for a time… It was a collar/shoulder seam in the instructions that had stopped me cold. Time to get over it as I froze my backside off this winter; I will be ready for next!


      • Cheering you on, Lynda! And thanks for the mending compliment.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Rhonda Bradley

    Such an elegant looking apron , I love the colours.
    My naughty drawer has a few things best left forgotten.
    The only thing worth doing with them is scavenging for new projects.
    So often I have an idea and my skills are not up to the execution, thankfully that doesn’t stop me being ambitious and starting new projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! On the weekend I gifted it to a friend with the fashion confidence to carry it off, after some adjustments to fit her far slighter build. If your whole naughty corner is full of things that are ready to be scavenged for spare parts, congratulations! Being at that point where you have made the decision that you’re not going to fix it up/complete it/get over your highly critical approach to it… or whatever… is a crucial step, I think. I notice things stay in my naughty corner when I can’t decide to sort them out but I can’t decide to move them on to a new life either. So I think you must be more decisive–you’ve done the hardest part already!


  5. wonderful colour…….you inspired me to go hunting for blue gum leaves again, cineria seems non existent here (Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong) and even the nurseries don’t stock it, but have found a couple of others that are giving me the reds….love your apron…glen (fellow Nomad Arts apron student)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello glensbird! Yes, I’ve seen you on the Alchemists’Apron too–greetings! I have other options for eds in my suburban neighbourhood too–but there are definitely some E Cinereas growing as street tress around me so I can pick at least a little. Hoping you find the leaves you’re seeking, and that you’re having as much fun with your apron as I am (I’ve started a second one).


  6. and I happily read this post while wearing one of the many pairs of divine socks knitted for me by you…labours compared to which the gifting of a class is small beans…thank you. I love my sock collection.

    Liked by 1 person

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