Sunday, January 30, 2011


I have been dyeing lots of fabric lately, experimenting much more with the techniques for dyeing with plant materials, with great results. I have also been reading widely about amazing techniques for synthetic dyes. So much so that I have been exploring ideas for creating items for sale on Etsy down the track.

I repurposed an op-shop tablecloth and some items of clothing, with great colours and patterns achieved.

I have settled on a name "DyeHouseDesigns", and have opened an Etsy account in this name with the idea of listing items such as these for sale. I am really excited about repurposing table linen for several reasons...
  • I love vintage table linen
  • I find lovely linen at op-shops all the time
  • usually they are hand embroidered
  • often they have other delightful features
  • sometimes they are marked - of no concern after dyeing
  • they are always beautiful and make wonderful keepsakes
I only have these few pics at this stage, but would really value any feedback from you all.

Have a great day :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spare a thought...

This post is totally unrelated to vintage, sewing, or fashion...

I write this to send my thoughts and prayers to all my northern neighbours in Queensland, and soon N.S.W. who are struck by the terrible floods.

I hope that no more loved ones or pets are lost, that the rain ceases, the flood waters recede, and that you may rebuild your homes and communities quickly, and with lots of assistance.

I ask anyone who reads this, who is spiritual, to please spare a thought and a prayer for all who are suffering at this time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eco retro...

I have just completed this dress from 1974, Vogue Americana - Carol Horn 1032, using op-shop cotton fabric, and eco-dyeing techniques.

I don't know the names of all the leaves I used, but it included lavender sprigs, broken oak leaves, eucalyptus leaves, and one unidentified leaf - some "windfall" I found on a walk to the supermarket. These were all placed between the folded fabric and bundled tightly with yarn.

I cooked this in a leftover dyebath from a few weeks ago - I had left the liquid in the pan after my last dye lot. The dyebath actually had a little stuff starting to grow on the surface, but I think that all just adds to the natural dye least I hope so :-)

I cooked the bath, just under a simmer, for an hour and left it overnight to cool. Normally I am far too impatient and curious to leave the bundles before unwrapping them, but I forced myself. In the morning the water looked black and I thought I had left it too long, and it would all be black. It is such fun opening the bundles, always a surprise, and they turned out really good!

The dress was super easy to make. I had the size 10 pattern, from an op-shop, and was not sure it would fit. I seem to be a 12 in both vintage and modern patterns, so I only used a 1cm seam allowance instead of 1.5cms. This gave me a little extra room, and I think it fits really well.

I have been making more 60s and 70s dresses lately, with satisfying results. I think I will make many more.

BTW - these photos were taken along the waterfront where my BF and I go for our daily bicycle ride. It is just lovely...

It was a great night for a ride, lots of people sharing the path :-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

My second commission...

I have recently completed my second commission, another silk blouse. This blouse was dyed using plant material, including prunus leaves, eucalyptus leaves, lavender sprigs, and brown onion skins.

All went into the dye bath, and more prunus leaves were bundled in the silk to cause an "eco-print". That happens when the leaf is pressed firmly against the fabric, and as the colour is released during the dyeing process it prints onto the fabric. Sometimes the print is so effective I try to remove it thinking it is a stray leaf left behind.

front view

back view

It is difficult to see the detail of the print and the effect of the colours, it was very soft and subtle. As I type she is on her way to Germany, to a friend's wife. This blouse is looser and less tailored than my previous commission. I am hoping that the design suits the recipient - one of the difficulties with making a blouse for someone you have never seen in the flesh. It must also be said that the dress form never does a garment justice!

The silk has beautiful drape, and feels soft even after dyeing. I have bought two rolls of this silk...all the store had...and just love it.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and New Year :-)