Tag Archives: Metrosideros Excelsa

A birthday gift sewing kit

One of my beloved friends–I think of her as family of choice, really–had a birthday recently.  I love to celebrate birthdays, but to be honest, I prefer to give gifts as they come gleefully to hand or come into existence and not save them up for a specific day.  Perhaps I am just impulsive, or perhaps I don’t have enough gift ideas!  Anyway, near enough to the big day I came to understand that she didn’t have a sewing bag… even though she is such a wonderful stitcher and mender, and even though she is currently spending many hours on public transport where stitching might be a good thing to be carrying.  I started out with making a bag.



The main panel is a superb quality linen which was once part of a pair of suit pants.  At a  guess, they had their heyday in the early 1980s.  I have saved the jacket, but the pants were past use as a garment and long since met the dye pot, bundled with E Scoparia leaves.  My favourite combination, pretty much.  The chocolate brown ramie and linen sections were also op shop garment finds, and there is a leaf printed silk noil lining.  Naturally, I acquired some pretty pins and suchlike… And then made a needlecase.



These prints are pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) leaves on a strip of old woolen blanket, stitched with silk thread dyed in Austral indigo (Indigofera Australis)–but only just!  The thread colour seemed perfect for the job to me, being just to the blue side of grey.  Those pohutakawa leaves have the glorious feature of giving two completely different coloured eco-prints, one on each side of the leaf.


Long ago, another friend gifted me a pile of small leather samples, perhaps from an upholsterer–each one labelled with the name of the colour.  This one met its destiny as a scabbard of the most basic kind, intended to stop these scissors finding their way out through the bag.  In the end, this gift extended the birthday season by some days… the anniversary of my friend coming into the world came and passed–and a bit later, along came this belated present.




Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Pohutukawa leaves

Pohutukawa (Metrosideros Excelsa; known in Australia as New Zealand Christmas Tree) is a native plant from New Zealand, which is grown in Australia as a street tree, particularly in seaside locations.  In New Zealand/Aotearoa I saw it growing right on the beach, gloriously.  It is a hardy and beautiful tree.  I came past dozens of them on Oaklands Road (a main road in the southern suburbs of Adelaide) yesterday and pulled over.  I was immediately approached by some people who were looking for Marion Pool, so I gave some directions while I was there harvesting.

I was keen to try dyeing with the leaves of this tree because I’ve leaf printed with them on wool and found the colour almost purple. These leaf prints are on a strip of cream-coloured woolen blanket.

The leaves are green and glossy on one side and almost white and slightly fluffy on the back.  One side printed pale green and the other, deep purply-brown. Or perhaps the purple part is in my imagination. These leaf prints were cooked with a set of eucalyptus prints, so for about 3 hours.  It is possible a shorter time would be better for these leaves, though they are tough too.

Searching the web and Ravelry for clues yesterday though all I found were browns.  Undeterred, I went ahead with two test dyebaths.

I cooked one with the leaves alone in rainwater and one with leaves, rainwater, and a trusty piece of iron pipe.  I cooked them for an hour at a light simmer and left to cool and sit overnight.  The olive green (or is it khaki) on alumed wool with leaves alone is interesting, but if there are exciting colours to be coaxed from these leaves, clearly I’ll have to try another method. For now, leaf prints are the best result I have achieved.

Leaves alone in rainwater (left) and  leaves, rainwater, and  iron pipe (right) with wool; wool + alum; silk; cotton).


Filed under Dye Plants, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing