Comfrey dye bath makes an ecru cream-beige, which becomes duller and darker after dipping in iron modifier, after dyeing.
This sample experimented with shibori stitching prior to dyeing which resulted in several vey pale wavy lines of resist made by where the stitching gathered the cloth to prevent dye entering.
Result after dyeing shows Shibori stitch-resist as pale wavy lines.(Stitches are removed after full dye process.) The idea to make ‘waves’ by stitching in ‘curves’ worked, but contrasts poorly on pale colours. Large pegged sample shows dye-bath original tone at bottom right, and darker result top left, after adding iron modified. (black marks are the iron water splashed as I poured in iron solution, so take care with fabric proximity)
Preparing dye-bath with comfrey leaves
Cut up comfrey leaves and soak overnight. Also soak silk in alum mordant overnight or for some hours beforehand. Silk often dyes well without mordant when using some plants. Lighter colour at left, darker tone after longer soaking. Best to leave soaking over night to ensure good dye absorption. New pieces can be dyed in dyebath afterwards, and will be paler, but always a good starter colour for painting, or re-dyeing over.
Boil up and simmer for an hour. When just hand hot, drain comfrey out and put dye liquid in a bowl to soak the silk. (I never boil this ahimsa silk as it becomes matted in high temperatures) Agitate to distribute dye equally for first 15 mins, then leave to soak all day, redistributing in dye occasionally to ensure even dyeing.
Dyed and washed out, the ahimsa silk has an ecru beige colouring where first dyed (top left) – with additional dulled, more grey colour where half of cloth was soaked into iron modified dye bath. Out of the sunlight, the iron modified sample is quite dull and darker, to be used as one would a grey.
Sample (gallery top right) compares comfrey colour dye result with Ladies’ Bedstraw, peach. Samples (gallery bottom right) show iron modified comfrey sample in centre; between (left) Hawthorne dyed silk (left) and natural, ecru result of non-modified comfrey dyed silk in second dye bath. (right).
Note: A second dye-bath was made by reboiling liquid and leaves leaving overnight to stand. Heated next day, added fresh un-mordanted silk. Left to soak for a day and overnight 24hrs. This produced a pale but warm ecru silk.
Below: Comfrey dyed silk in centre – dull tone is result of iron modifier. Silks look duller indoors whereas they come to life in sunlight. The range of colours obtainable is fascinating.
Conclusion: Comfrey gives a very good neutral tone suitable for use with any silk painting over. Longer steep in iron (ferrous sulphate) would make it greyer, as needed. Experiment with quantities of iron added. I use either water from a rusty-nails-jar as well as purchased powder.
Name ‘Tasmanian Blues’ is derived from Tasmanian origin of the eucalyptus bark (found in Hillier Gardens, Hampshire), used to create a dyebath. Silk collar and patches on garment are hand dyed (Habotai Silk 10) which took the dye bath so well – just soaking for an hour. Bark was previously steeped 24hrs then boiled, simmered for 2 hours, before removing from heat and adding silk.
A very deep gold was produced with the eucalyptus bark dye, which shines incredibly richly in sunshine. Lace pieces were left in the dyebath overnight and even though mixed fibres, took on a gold tone. Seed design applique motifs uses the lace dyed with eucalyptus bark.
Gold dyed Habotai silk was painted on with Kniazef steam fixed dyes. The gold dye was so strong, that painted dye colours were hard to see, and needed redoing. Even specialised bleach for silk dyes did not work, so well is the eucalyptus dye fixed!
Original dyestuff is bright gold in sunlight, but darker indoors. The darker gold piece is modified afterwords with iron sulphate (rusty nail liquid). Bottom right shows lace pieces dyed in cold dyebath overnight.
Story of patchwork blues.
I chose the blues to go with the gold silk, because 3 of the prints have gold areas with blues. Blue and gold are a classic mix, setting off one against the other.
Front buttoning strip features Chinese style print of Phoenix bird (right side) and tail of dragon (left side) which looks attractive as a focal point.
Two fabric prints have animalistic feel: the leopard or cheetah in blue/grey/black, and the navy blue/white ‘pheasant’ feather print. The blue lace was the right colour to add in. The light blue with text also has navy and some brown which blends in. By putting a variety of fabrics together, a new design idea comes alive. Phoenix and seeds could be a new theme.
Applique seed motifs
Using the eucalyptus dyed lace, emulated the texture of dried seed pods. Centre seed capsule part (in shadow from photo/drawing) is shown in dark gold dyed silk remnant on right-side garment, and left-side garment shows a lighter silk, bundle dyed from various seeds and dried flowers.
Making steps: ‘Tasmanian Blues’
Garment started by using a polyester dress as LINING. I kept the cross-over ‘V’ neckline and fitted my fabrics to it. NOTE: its useful to have neckline and shoulders of a lining garment to start off with. Once patchwork is attached to that, patchwork can simply continue down to hem. Its very useful to use a bodice top from another garment as lining to fit sleeves to. I often make an under bust, high waistline seam below the length of an upper patched piece, darting under bust; also optionally at back for better fit.
The lining dress only has short sleeves, so I used other polyester fabrics to lengthen them in patchwork. Outside sleeve fabrics are viscose floral print and others, seen in making photos. Last four photos show cuff addition to lengthen sleeve and give print interest. black fused interfacing ironed on. Fold extension over to show other fabric as an edge border contrast. Fold down outer onto lining. Pin cuff extension to outer sleeve patches. Machine or hand stitch down.
To give a fuller underarm, similar to kimonos; after inserting sleeves, I left underarm and side seams open, and cut strips for underarm gusset, using viscose fabric outer and navy lace inner: an elongated triangle about 4 inches to a point from underarm centre into sleeve length. (the lining dress was small size, so these inserts also enlarged fit up to 38″ bust.) Darts can be seen at front and back of bodice sections.
Back neck facing and simple front facing cut to fit dress front neckline.
A curved frill piece was used from the original lining dress to create a fit, which curves around back neck and fits to front edge of ‘V’ neckline. Cutting adjustments made to allow a shape that would extend the curve from centre back neck (left side photo 1.) continuing around to fit to dress front V neckline, and produce a simple fold back collar only at front. Once the under-fabric was established, an identical shape was cut in white cotton, to use as copy pattern for upper fabric patchwork, (which incorporates the eucalyptus dyed silk). Photo 2. ‘Collar/facing was firmed a little with fine fused black interlining.
Finnish kimono dress lower patchwork making:
Once upper bodice is completed (with or without sleeves), the lower skirt part of kimono dress is made by cutting rectangles and joining until there is enough to fit around the high waistline. This is the stage to consider which colours to juxtapose in lower garment. You may save some special pieces to show at front. Symmetry is a good idea: working from centre, to sides, repeating colour/shades similarly on either side. Start at the centre on the back, and work to the sides, adding patches until the desired width is reached, in correspondence to the upper bodice of dress. I describe an ad-hoc method of choosing fabric patches one by one, until enough are made. Alternatively, by calculating desired length of dress, and desired size of patches, you can calculate how many patches of each fabric colour or printed pattern will be needed in advance of cutting and machining. Lay them out on a table to desired colour juxtaposition, keeping in mind how the front and centre back will look. Work similarly from centre back, adding patches across and down, until length is reached. Create the patches in columns, then machine down the long rectangular panels, onto the under lining. (Fabric, or garment used as lining base). Allow 2-3 inches more at front and back, which can be gather-stitched to fit before seaming the bodice and skirt parts together. This could be darted if preferred. I darted the kimono-dress.
There was enough blue themed fabric left to make small tunic dress. Again, patches are stitched onto an existing garment; a cream/white/brown/blue flora design A-line short sleeved flared top, which becomes the lining. The beige and blue on creamy peach work well with the blue patchworks, and also provide a light background to the blue lace patches, contrasting the lace: see top back photo and front lower side. (Light coloured lace can utilise darker backgrounds.) Short sleeves are unlined patchwork with bound viscose print hems.
The armholes were large, for a Plus size, so I darted the lining from armhole to bust point, and did same with upper patchwork. I cut down the centre due to extra width, and folded over edges for front facing firmness, still having enough to overlap for buttoning.
Making – Bound Button Holes
Mark width of button, add a little more. Sew a rectangle over button size area on right side of fabric.
Machine around, cut centre, cut into corners
Fold rectangle through to wrong side, Press flat with folds meeting, as shown.
Hand stitch lining to bound edges.
Top stitch on right side (optional). I did so here, due to fraying of lining fabric.
Applique motifs are inspired from Nigella seed pods grown in my allotment. Photos and drawings simplified for cut and sew. The centre silk has been dyed with eucalyptus bark before painting on (same silk as ‘Tasmanian Blues’ collar above), although darker due to after-modifying soaking in iron (rusty nail water makes a considerable darker change). Right photo seed pod has silk centre of bundle dyed silk with seeds and petals. Lace seed ‘pod’ fabric has been also dyed with eucalyptus bark, left overnight after initial silk dye has taken up most of the colour. Its always a good idea to see how deep a colour you can dye in the ‘left-over’ dye bath. See eucalyptus dying blog:
Shape is cut for fitted bodice front and back with bat-wing (kimono – like) sleeves extending from shoulders to high waist.
Front lacing over gusset, adjusts bust size from 36″ to 40″
Sleeves have cuffs which will turn back at the seam for tasking.
Notice collar, although a proper one, is caught down into high waist seaming at front, which could be thinner if copying idea, and stitch down to a point where it meets gusset (which I would do for a smaller summer dress)
Gorgeous patchwork colours form treasure trove arrangement. Generous fit up to 40 bust: Sleeves are kimono style loose, starting from below bust line. Lace ties ensure fit under bust. Back bodice top is already fitted to body, with gathers below
To buy ‘Purple Shimmers’or to commission similar, visit ETSY shop
Purple Patchwork Kimono-Dress – Creation Journey
Three or four plains and three to four prints, with maybe another contrasting plain works well. At least 7 different fabrics are needed for a good patchwork result. I used all these fabrics except for the hand dyed silk 3rd from right. (It will go into a similar one)
When cutting up garments for patchwork, cut up along the sides of all seams. Sometimes cotton and linen seams can be ripped undone, and more fabric saved. Overall, unpicking is not worth the time it takes.
Sometimes there is fabric strain near darts or side seams as there were in this blouse. In such case, don’t undo the seam where stitches have pulled. This blouse had strain around the front dart seams. Due to inherent weakness in the loose weave, this fabric will be quilt-machined onto a thin cotton backing, to ensure it stays firm.
Many parts of a garment can be recycled into a different new garment, such as this lace-styled neck. It won’t be included in the kimono, but it will form the start of another dress, likely to be with navy, if only the lace is used, or navy and pink if the print is kept.
This top is from a stretch cotton fabric, so will be quilt machined onto a cotton, for firmness, to be similar in weight to the linen and taffeta. If used only in its stretch state, it may cause a slight ‘baggyness’ in parts of the patchwork.
This patchwork jacket was commissioned by 99yr old Beth, a friend of my sister’s in Dorset. She likes something different. Having lived in China, the average high street shop doesn’t attract her.
Clothes I make are well received by women who want something unique and original, rather than from high street chain stores; also for women who appreciate the craft of creative patchwork, resulting in the creation of a new fabric.
I chose the fabrics myself for the jacket, having met Beth just once. The item was to be for a wedding, so I wanted it to be light and classic, but to still have some interesting elements. The first fabric I found was the beige skirt with eau de nil applique feature of lilies. I decided this was perfect for the jacket theme.
Fabrics I used were linen and linen-mix skirts from charity shops. Quite a lot of fabric is needed for patchworks; its best to have at least 5 different ones.
When I cut the patches out and laid out together, I decided there needed to be a highlight colour to accent over and above the all-beige overall look. I rushed to the shops, and was lucky to see the pale green and pale blue devore skirt with floral print in shiny synthetic satin in the first charity shop I looked in; it seemed a tad shockingly bling, but knew once it was in isolated patches, it would merely enhance the overall arrangement. As soon as I added in the new patches, I knew I would work.
For this jacket, I chose skirts with embroidery so I could use the embroidered areas for patches.
From two embroidered skirts there was enough embroidered area, to give some decoration on every patch in the jacket. I had seen Beth had some embroidered clothes and so guessed she would like it.
The lining was a bonus find, another skirt, viscose type, having just the right colours of taupe background with eau de nil green in the woven roses, which ideally complimented the classic beige, cream and light green of all the patches.
Cost of fabrics was £42 plus £5 for a synthetic jacket which I just had to get, as it had the shell buttons in shiny light beige with a hint of green, perfectly matching the jacket colours. A touch of shine for a jacket to be worn at a wedding I thought.
Due to the centre pattern piece of paper pattern being placed on the bias of the cloth grain/weave, the square patches become diamonds.
My Mission: To make beautiful casual and luxurious clothes and quilts from recycled fabrics.
Stop Landfills. Stop Water Pollution. Stop ‘Made in China’. Working Ethos.
Fast fashion has encouraged the spendthrift and waste of textile materials. So many cast-offs! I’ve noticed year on year, the plethora of higher quality fabrics donated to the ubiquitous high street charity shops. Clothes from quality brand names or clothes hardly worn at all, make it essential that the best quality dresses, skirts and T-Shirts be given an extended life.
Linens are wonderful to work with: one pair of trousers provides large pieces, as does a flared skirt. Dresses and blouses provide prints and lace. I choose good quality cotton, viscose and silk mostly, for summer dresses: with just a little polyester if a print inspires me, and for most linings.
SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING is becoming more mainstream, with increasing numbers of inspired fashion designers making clothes from UP-CYCLED and VINTAGE fabrics and sharing their ideas on Pinterest. See many creative upcyclers, along with some of mine, here: –
There has been a ground swell of interest in organic cotton; grown without pesticide use, leaving no watercourse contamination. Fertilizers are expensive for farmers in poorer countries, making crops less profitable. The Aral Sea has dried up due to the over use of its water for Uzbekistan cotton growing.
Whilst organic cotton is all the rage, cotton itself requires so much water to grow and process, that in the long run it’s not sustainable. It takes 8,500 litres to make enough cotton for a pair of jeans. This is clearly unsustainable, even immoral, when many areas of the world suffer drought.
FABRICS from high street store fashions have an incredibly long shelf life, but are sometimes discarded after one season’s wear or if the garment no longer fits. Even household fabrics are renewed more often than years ago. These fabrics and clothes are still here. Piling up in landfills. Rather than throwing away, we need to recycle all textiles as much as possible.
Patchwork joining for Cherry Fluzzie B, January 2017