Back before March, maybe even last year! I took out a silk cot quilt kit I bought from Beautiful Silks remnants section and dyed the silk cover. I’ll be honest with you, Marian (the fabulous proprietor at Beautiful Silks) persuaded me to buy this kit and I didn’t know where it would go. Then the moment for me to give it to one pregnant friend passed without it being finished.
I was very happy with how the dyeing turned out.
I was intimidated by the next steps. It was just too beautiful. Silk is just a bit too precious for me to relax about. In about March, still not sure where it would go, I decided to add the silk batting and stitch the quilt edges together. Then I safety–pinned and tacked the quilt layers together before losing my nerve again.
Then it emerged that my daughter was expecting! She wanted to wait until after the third month before being really confident that it would, as she put it, “stick”. And when that date passed and all was well with the foetus, I started to think about this quilt again. I didn’t know how to quilt it, and to be honest, I like the patchwork part of making quilts but not the quilting part. I’ve never made a whole cloth quilt. Finally I decided to stop waiting for it to be perfect and just stitch.
Suddenly I made my peace with this cone of thread that really wasn’t what I had thought I was buying on some previous mail order, and chose a needle. I finished the stitching after we arrived to visit my daughter, now visibly pregnant and beginning to multiply plans for her life as a parent. She did rather seem to love it, wonky stitching and all, to judge by all the stroking and patting and cheek-placing–and we’ll have to see how it stands up to the rigours of an actual baby. Or perhaps it will end up as a new mother’s comforter!
These are the results of my last day of dyeing, dried and ironed and ready for use. Some have already gone to new happy homes and the one at top right has become a pocket!
The leafy log cabin workshop went ahead recently, and it was a lovely day of stitching, dyeing, company and cake. So much cake! I took one photo near the start…
And one photo of a silk bag at the end.
Evidently, I didn’t take any in between! I dyed a lot of fabric in advance of this workshop, so I’ve had a lot of fun with it already. I had a surprise success in getting green from maple leaves. Kangaroo Paw prints was another happy surprise outcome. And I have what are sure to be the first of many more leafy log cabin blocks. It was great fun watching what other people made with some of the fabric I’d dyed (and in some cases, fabric they had dyed), and their own big imaginations. I was very struck by how many others expressed what I often feel: reluctance to use beautiful materials. Wanting to start with whatever is leftover or unwanted. Patchwork is a bit of a happy place for people who have this orientation toward using things up, I think.
And as well as the pleasure of spending time with lovely women, sewing and sharing and exploring, I had the pleasure of Susan’s home and hospitality, and since we spent the night before the workshop nearby, the joy of Aldinga beach at sunset too.
For my birthday this year, my beloved bought me some kangaroo paws. They started blooming about a week after they went into the ground in march, and they are still flowering.
As I started dyeing fabrics for the Leafy Log Cabin workshop (details here), I decided to try some of the oldest blooms in the dye pot. Too exciting!
Decidedly overexcited by this experience, I wandered out on my bike the next day to deadhead the kangaroo paws at a nearby intersection (there are so many). They were not red–and they did not give a print.
But I did find a couple of mulberry trees in fruit, and I had a lovely ride and collected E Cinerea leaves… so a lovely afternoon just the same. How’s your dyeing and foraging going?
After the recent India Flint workshop on the Island Book, I took home enough paper and ideas to make a second book. In the upper images you can see my post-workshop efforts with dye plants local to me, and in the images at the bottom, some pictures of the Aldinga Island Book.
On my little holiday in Allansford, I dyed up some knit silk and some silky merino from the Beautiful Silks odds and ends department–much better fun than the remnants at a big chain store.
I had to do some creative work to find this entire garment from the pieces. In the end, I settled on silk sleeves and a silky merino body.
A friend agreed to take some pictures for me one day but she evidently couldn’t do anything about my embarrassment! And she offered the view that this top would work better if it were a little longer. She may well be right.
You can see I’ve got leaves running in one direction up my back and down the other… I just couldn’t get the pattern to fit any other way. And–I’ve enjoyed wearing this most of the winter.
On the weekend I had the good opportunity (due to a cancellation) of being able to attend a workshop with India Flint at the Aldinga Eco-Village, exploring plant dyeing on paper and a book structure called the Island Book.
In the beginning, there was poetry and chat, thread and tea and blank paper.
Then there was some drawing with your non-dominant hand. Well, personally, I was so overcome by DRAWING that I used my dominant hand and didn’t remember the non dominant part (and stuck with it when it was mentioned to me–you have heard my confession, friends).
Then there was a mighty lot of embellishing and stitching and some distressing (of the paper and fabric, you understand–no salty tears involved). There was mud in some cases. And lunch, never forget lunch. Stone soup!
Cutting and tearing and demonstration of other book structures.
And then wandering and collecting plants to try out and cooking the books! Finally, there was gleeful and cheerful wandering out into the world with damp books and our handmade tsunobokuro bags to wrap these or other treasures in. A glorious day all round, with thanks to the lovely Susan, our host and organiser!
I have ethical questions about cutting up garments at times. For example, should I leave them in the op shop for someone who might use them as they are rather than treating them as raw materials? Not to mention, how about using what I already have and not getting anything more, even second hand? I have to admit that other days I think about how much textile waste is thrown away in the overdeveloped world and think I should just go wild if I have a good idea. But my ethical quibbles are completely swept away when I confront the bargain rack at the op shop, where things have failed to sell and the next stop is rags. Which is how the linen jacket above (and a pair of jeans) came home with me a little while back. The jacket had clearly gone through the washing machine despite its dry clean only tag (I understand, dry cleaning is an evil chemical process and expensive as well), and the interfacing had not shrunk at the same rate as the linen. And that, my friends, is how I found myself ripping an Armani suit into its component parts!
This process entertained two friends who don’t share my fascination with garment construction mightily. I’ve read about the signature Armani interior pocket in my wanderings through Threads Magazine. And here it is! Not to mention so much interfacing, of about five different types. In the end some of the jacket lining and the interior pockets became part of this lining.
And the lining was set into an eco print on silk left from dye camp summer 2017.
And finally, I have a new knitting bag. I’ve lost one, and one needs comprehensive mending… and this one has luxury interior pockets for all my little stuff (stitch markers, needles). I’m a happy knitter! And the linen has hit a bucket of soy milk, the better to meet its new destiny.
I had another breakout of bags recently. You know how it is with me and bags–I start one and make more than you can imagine! Some were made from offcuts, some from eco prints. An entire pair of RM Williams pants that had made it to the bargain rack at the op shop met their new destiny too.
Here they are with bag bodies and bag linings in position (mmm–mismatched seams in evidence) and (RM Williams) straps cut and stitched and ready to be stitched on, waiting for another day.
This one was made from the offcuts of a shirt I made last year, and it found a new home very quickly as such a fabulous print should. Hence the hurried photo. A rather striking E Scoparia print went to the same happy home, but my picture of it was so blurred I have decided to spare you. And here are the rest: a bark cloth print that somehow found its way into my stash second hand and well loved which is also currently covering my ironing board–and–leaf prints on cotton and silk.
In another radical transformation of vintage woolen blanket, I (more or less) followed the instructions for the Flowers at My Fingertips hussif/sewing kit from Christine Vejar’s The Modern Natural Dyer. You can have a sense of what she did (and some pictures of her hussif) by following this link. Above are prints from maroon coreopsis flowers I had in the garden at the time I was dyeing. I bought the plant at the Seed Freedom Festival and have just loved it. It is not enjoying winter though.
These are prunus leaves from a neighbourhood tree. I cut binding from some linen pants that entered their second life some time ago.
Some parts of the binding went more smoothly than others, but in the end the edge was reasonably neat.
So now I have a sewing toolkit that rolls up. I really just wanted to make this pattern and try the dyeing strategy out, at a time of year when I had African marigolds, Mexican marigolds, Alyogyne Huegelii flowers, salvias and more to try out, and then realised that I also had something close enough to woolen flannel to try them on. I’ll figure out where it will go to live later!