Some time ago I acquired some pecan leaves from a tree grown by my friends. They were always destined for the dye pot! Some prints turned out crisper than others, but overall I loved these prints. They were printed onto leftovers from a skirt lining and some other plain cotton fabric I bought at a church fete… it clearly had a weaving defect of some kind that meant none of the selvedges and none of the grain in the fabric ran straight. Best not used for clothing, perhaps, but I have had a great time taking it from plain white to all kinds of other treasures.
Once I had pieced all the oddly shaped sections together, I had four decent sized panels, and the challenge of choosing which I would prefer on the outside and which for the inside.
In what turns out to be just about a signature of my sewing, I preferred the pieced together panels to some of the whole leaf prints.
But the whole leaf prints were good too.
I decided to give this bag to some friends who live locally. I often see them in the distance with one calico bag or another in hand or over shoulder… so it seemed likely this would be useful to them. And I love that they live nearby and that they are fellow carers for the neighbourhood and its people. I slipped it in their letterbox with a little card…
There came a point in the end of year crazy-pants where I couldn’t stand all the bits and pieces that were lurking around my office/sewing space. Finally, I decided to take action. Who needs a potato sack in residence in their work space for months? It went the way of so many potato sacks round here. This one was a particularly nice sack, with quite a complex weave structure (for a hessian sack). The printing was even less wash fast than usual (for a hessian sack) but hopefully it will now have another life being appreciated for its carrying qualities.
Then there were all the small pieces of fabric left over from other things. I created patchwork from them and soon had enough for a bag (or two!) lined with eco-prints I like less.
These are mostly small pieces of pre-loved garments that have been turned into other things, with or without prior leaf prints. This one has already gone to a happy home with friends who use bags all the time.
And then there was the ongoing bag patching ritual. There were three or four new holes… so my favourite bag got yet another patching job. From this:
Last week there was some leaf printing. Eucalyptus Scoparia leaves, one of my favourites.
Pecan leaves, inspired by Lotta Helleberg (when I went to her blog to insert this link there was an especially delectable pecan leaf printed fabric on show, by complete coincidence) and by a wonderful lunch with friends who have a pecan tree. The leaves have been patiently waiting in my freezer.
Let me admit right here and now that I had some alum and tannin mordanted fabric which took no colour at all–I must have made some kind of mistake there!
As always, the thrill of seeing good things begin to emerge.
Then waiting to unwrap bundles. I saved these until I had a friend over for dinner who I realised would enjoy the reveal as much as I do.
Some pecan prints were better than others, but the good ones are lovely.
And the Eucalyptus leaf prints were all I hoped for and more.
The bag making has been continuing. This is a simple, unlined bag made from recycled heavyweight garment fabrics–parts of an old pair of hemp shorts and some recycled men’s cotton twill trousers. Last year I went to a huge Red Cross sale where entire secondhand garments were $1 or $2. I acquired all kinds of stained and/or worn pale coloured garments which I have been transforming.
This, on the other hand, is a lined bag made of silk. When I first bought and read India Flint’s Eco-Colour, I was immediately inspired and keen to try out her ideas and techniques, but finding silk and wool fabrics was quite a challenge. I had been dyeing sheep fleece and woolen yarns. I started out eco-printing with some fine gauzy silk and that was exciting enough to keep me going, though I was less than clear about how I could use it. Then I found a length of Thai silk clearly purchased in Thailand and brought home to Australia which had somehow found its way to an op shop I like to comb through. Many experiments followed, and they have been sitting rolled up in the sewing room for years now.
The darker colour on some sections is red wine. The splotchy random pattern–clearly not a leaf–on one piece really had me puzzled until I ironed it. The smell was a giveaway. Ah! Onion skins! That is what you can see on the top right of this bag.
And the other side (with red wine on the strap)…
I have constructed the linings from samples and less successful printing efforts on cottons…
It’s very satisfying finally to put these samples to use.
Pecans do grown in this part of the world, even if they are not terribly common. A long while back I wrote about leaf printing with pecan leaves from our friends’ tree. I have had it in mind all the while to make them something from those leaf prints. Finally I have made good on this idea. In fact, my beloved saw one of our pecan-growing friends yesterday and told her I’d made them a gift… so this bag is destined for the post sooner rather than later.
I started out with this sun-faded linen frock–the shades of colour you see are not effects of the sun falling on the fabric but the impact of fading. I think I paid $2 for the frock at a red cross op shop.
The lining has a pocket from a recycled ramie shirt, and a patchworked panel of leaf printed silk offcuts from another recycled frock. Here are the inside panels ready to be stitched to the rest of the lining.
The remainder of the lining is yellow. A long time ago there was shop in our neighbourhood that just sold offcuts from a sheet manufacturer, and having made entire quilts, bunting and bags from those offcuts I still have some left! Here is the finished item on top of my madder patch. The madder is appreciating the warmer weather–at least until it gets too hot for it to enjoy, and I am hoping my friends will like their present.
It was another weekend with leaf prints.
Eucalyptus Cinerea, before..
My test cotton sample, demonstrating that the mordanting I wrote about a little while back should work out just fine for the natural dyeing workshop I’ll be running.
On the weekend I travelled south of the city to celebrate the lives and love of two dear friends. They had an all-in-one birthday party and anniversary. I gave them a teapot and teacosy dyed with silky oak leaves (grevillea Robusta) and eucalypt, and they found it suitably funny.
As we left, one of them pointed out their now-flourishing, though still relatively small, pecan tree. I had seen pecan eco-prints on Lotta Helleberg’s lovely blog. I asked if I could pluck a few, and then I took them home and wrapped them in a piece of cotton twill that used to be a pair of trousers. It was ready and waiting, mordanted in soy and ready to go! Before… (such lovely leaves…)
I had also saved this sample of an unidentified eucalypt a friend was growing in his backyard, but sadly it yielded a few brownish smudges. It’s much prettier in person than as a leaf print. I think it is Eucalyptus Kruseana (Bookleaf Mallee).
And I spent some time creating textured batts ready for textured yarn spinning… wool with mohair locks, while I tried a new method for washing wool.