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Dye

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shibori dye

You know what’s awesome about dyeing fabric?  It’s so absurdly low-tech, and yet the possibilities you have to create interesting effects are infinite.  Shibori dye has been on my DIY bucket for a while now, so when LA Finch Fabrics approached me to review their PFD Organic cotton shirting, oh, and dye it, I had to jump on that train post haste.  I give you my shibori dye Sew Over It Penny dress!

**This fabric was provided to me by LA Finch Fabrics.  The dyeing process I did with my own two hands, and all opinions are my own.**

Shibori Dye Sew Over It Penny Dress

What is PFD fabric?

PFD fabric is “prepared for dye”.  It’s a totally blank canvas for all your diy love.  Because this is organic fabric, it’s an excellent candidate for natural dyes like indigo or turmeric.  Working with indigo remains one of the few dye techniques I’ve not tried!  With the popularity of mustard colors in fashion this Fall, dyeing this fabric with turmeric could be a really cool project.  Hey it would go with this bag!

This fabric is a 100% cotton shirting.  I would say it’s about the weight as a good quality 100% cotton shirting you’d see in a ready-to-wear men’s shirt.  This fabric was made for a beautifully structured collar!  Shirtdresses like the Sew Over It Penny dress or a nice button down shirt pattern like the Grainline Archer are both great choices for this fabric.

If you’d like to experiment with this lovely fabric, LA Finch is offering it for $5/yd right now!

Organics Basics Shirting PFD Woven

Here’s what I did with it.

Grainline Archer

 

Shibori

Shibori is the traditional Japanese art of dyeing fabric.  It’s a resist technique not unlike tie-dyeing.  Resist dyeing means that you add something to the fabric that prevents the dye from making a nice even color throughout.  In the case of shibori, the fabric may be folded, twisted, pleated, wound with string, stitched, clamped in any number of configurations before the dye is applied.  The variants are infinite and there is definitely art and a lifetime’s worth of study to truly understand how to make what with shibori.  If you’re looking for a good intro, I found this book to be a good primer with some practical projects.

After several experiments, I settled on the Arashi form of shibori which involves dyeing with a pole.

 

Arashi shibori

Anytime I get to go to Home Depot to start a sewing project, I’m pretty excited.  I used to hate home improvement stores as a kid, but now, I kind of love it.  It makes my home nicer, they have GIANT carts that make my kids happy, and the happy color chips of the paint section could occupy me for hours.  On this particular visit, I picked up a large chunk of PVC.  I almost walked out with a 15 foot pole, but I did see a smaller 3′ chunk that was much easier to manage.  You do want to have the biggest diameter pole you can get which will make sense in a minute.  This one has a diameter of 3″.

 

The basics is that you wrap the dry fabric around the pole.  You can do this on an angle or not.  When you run out of pole, you scrunch the fabric down until it can scrunch no more.  What you’ve done is created tons of micro pleats in the fabric.  If you try to do this with too much fabric, it’s going to be really unwieldy to scrunch.  You know the thing about you can’t fold a piece of paper more than 7X unless you’re Hulk?  The same thing applies here.  For this midweight fabric, I found sections of 1.5 yards just about perfect to work with.  Also, the large diameter pole makes it easier to compact down the fabric without it becoming loose and too hard to handle.

Rubberband crazy

After you scrunch everything, secure the fabric to the pole with as many rubberbands as you’d like.  The tighter they are, the more the fabric folds and the rubberbands themselves will prevent the dye from being uniform.  You can add some clips if you like for more resist texture.

Next you wet the fabric.  Then you dye the fabric.  I used two different colors–one pink, and a darker purple.  The purple is actually a darker version of the pink.  You can apply the dye uniformly or in stripes or at random.  This is definitely something that warrants experimentation, and no 2 pieces of shibori are going to look the same.

I’ll also throw out there that I was using the dye I had on hand: Rit DyeMore in a couple different colors as well as regular Rit Dye.  Some day, I will break down and buy some fiber reactive dyes.  My understanding is that you’ll get more intense colors with them.

Fish skin

shibori dye

After letting the dye soak into the fabric for a few hours, you can unwrap it all.  Pull off the rubberbands and unroll the fabric.  As it’s wet, it’s going to be rather difficult to deal with.  You will get to see all those cool pleats you made!  My sons have dubbed this pattern “fish skin”!  That definitely felt appropriate for the dramatic backdrop of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada which my husband and I got to visit for a belated anniversary trip.

After this, rinse the fabric with cool water until it’s clear.  If you like, you can toss it in a cool water cycle in your washing machine.  After that, you’re good to go.

Sew Over It Penny dress

With my fresh shibori dye fish skin fabric, I was ready to sew it up into a Penny dress.  For my version, I swapped out the giant circle skirt for a straight skirt which is definitely more my style.

I also finished the armholes with bias tape I cut from a striped cotton shirting.  The shoulder yoke is lined burrito-style.  For some reason in this pattern, the directions would have you finish the shoulder yoke seam allowances and have them just hanging out along the shoulder edge on the inside.  The burrito method is definitely a cleaner finish.  The yoke on the Penny is much smaller, so it’s a little harder than a traditional button down shirt, but the principles are the same.

I also skipped the waist elastic in favor of a drawstring.  To finish up everything, I added some coordinating pearl snaps.

So that’s the tale of my shibori dyeing exploits.  I reckon this is a deep rabbit hole, and I’m really looking forward to trying this out again.  Thanks to LA Finch Fabrics for giving me the fabric!

Have you tried shibori dyeing?

 

spice dyed

What experience do you have with natural dyes?

This bag was published in the Autumn 2017 edition of Altered Couture magazine.*

Altered Couture has a couple of challenges running this year that have caught my eye.  One of the challenges is to use natural dyes from foodstuffs to create a project.  Being a cook, I knew I’d have fun with this one.  As it turned out, I needed to make a bag that I can carry sheet music in for teaching my violin lessons.  Right now, I’m teaching at home, but that may not always be the case, and anyhow, I’m always toting piles of books.  I set out to create a bag that would hold all my stuff and yet fill the bill of the challenge.  I present my spice dyed music bag!

Blank Slate Oceanside Pants

I made this version of the Blank Slate Oceanside Pants last year just after my daughter was born and just thought they were just okay.  While they made it into my top 5 misses from last year, I found them recently and decided I’d been unfair to them and the pattern.  It’s pretty typical for me to hate things I’ve managed to make directly postpartum (shocker that my mind would be otherwise occupied in that time! :D).  So, in fairness to the process and these pants that really are quite nice to wear in the heat of summer, here’s the Blank Slate Oceanside Pants in a nice herringbone linen.

Blank Slate Oceanside Pants

Pattern details

Oceanside Pants Sewing Pattern - Drawstring Waist Pants by Blank Slate Patterns

This pattern is a great loose fitting pant with a drawstring/elastic combination waist.  The pattern has just one piece (minus pockets and drawstring) which is a good and bad thing.  It’s good because one piece pants are super fast and easy to sew.   The bad thing about one piece pants is that they can be a little trickier to alter without the help of the side seam that joins the front and back pieces together on regular pants.

The thing that drew me to this pattern are the cute patch pockets.  They have a little corner on each of them that folds down to fasten with a button.  It’s an adorable little casual detail.

Blank Slate Oceanside Pants

Fitting

As I said, without that side seam, it can be a little trickier to fit these pants.  I have a flat backside, and I always take about 1/2″ wedge just under the back crotch that tapers to nothing at the side seam.  This really helps get rid of some of that excess fabric that I always have hanging off me in RTW pants.

Blank Slate Oceanside Pants

To do this alteration without a side seam, draw an imaginary vertical line where the side seam would approximately be.  Draw a horizontal line just under the back crotch to the “side seam”.  Slash the horizontal line to the “side seam”.  Fold up the needed amount, tapering to zero at the imaginary side seam.

Flat seat alteration on a one piece pant

I didn’t do anything else for fit other than shorten the length a bit.

An easier drawstring

Does anyone else use a drawstring threader?

Easy Threader Flexible Needle Drawstring replacement and craft tool by schaller

I love these things.  When I was a kid, my Mom taught me to thread elastic through casings with a safety pin.  Of course, having done this yourselves, you know that when you do this, you not only hurt your fingers half the time, but it’s cumbersome and slow.  You just might lose the elastic in the process too.  You pass a drawstring threader through the whole casing, then attach your drawstring and pull it back through in one move.  It’s such a time saver.  The drawstring on these pants has fabric ends with an elastic middle.  The casing is really narrow, so even with the drawstring threader, it’s really tough to pull the fabric/elastic combo through evenly.

I learned on the back cutout dresses that it’s easier to thread the elastic through first, then sew on the drawstring ends.  This way, you won’t have to pull the drawstring ends through the whole casing, and the elastic will be where it’s supposed to be.

Retie it dear.

So I had a terrible time of these pants falling off of me.  As the day goes on, they droop and loosen and it’s just a bit fussy and not a look I’d like to wear out.  I don’t really like having to retie drawstrings, especially out in public, but it goes with the territory.  I’m either really lazy or just prefer more fitted styles!

Berry linen no more

This linen had been in my stash for years.  It used to be a berry color.  Berry colors are really far outside of my palette, so I personally avoid wearing them.  Still, this fabric has a great hand and a beautiful herringbone pattern, so I held onto it.  In the end, I bleached it and then ran it through the wash with Rit Color Remover.  The resulting color is this nice wheat color that is surprisingly in my palette.

Cool and breezy

These have been really great pants thus far for summer.  The linen is breathable, and the loose fit provides for enough movement to help fight sticky hot legs syndrome.  Thanks to Andie for pushing me to give these pants another try!  I know she’s been having some great success with her versions, and the turquoise is AMAZING.

Have you had a pattern you made up and came to like a long time after you made it?

Bleached Marigold Dress: Elizabeth Made This

After months of dreaming about shirtdresses, I think I finally made one that I am really really going to enjoy wearing. This Bleached Marigold Dress is another example of my love of taking a good pattern and mixing it up with a whole lot of DIY.

bleached marigold dress

 

Bleached Marigold Dress

I started with a cotton/linen curtain panel that was this denim colored chambray. I loved the fabric, but the color was just a little off for me–too intense and too cool for me. But I kept coming back to the fabric. It has such a beautiful weight to it, perfect for a dress, perfect for Blank Slate Pattern’s Marigold Dress. I also find linen impossible to walk past, especially when it’s at the thrift store. It feels like I’ve just struck gold…well, maybe not that dramatic, but it’s still exciting. My goal was to test out some bleach on it, and if it worked, great, and if it didn’t, I’d be more than happy to save it for pants for the boys.

I put about a cup of bleach in my washer in hot water and tossed in the curtain. I let it soak for maybe 15 minutes then I ran it through the cycle. The bleach took out some of the intensity and yellowed it a bit, making it much more appropriate for my coloring. To my surprise, the bleach also didn’t destroy the overall chambray effect of the cross threads, and the fabric maintains it’s visual chambray look.

Because I was working with limited yardage (43″X85″), I knew I’d need to use another fabric for contrast. I plumbed the depths of my stash and came up empty, so I went to stash #2–my own old clothes and found this floral batiste top I made as a beginner. It might have been my first Burda pattern. I always loved the fabric, but the boxy fit with overbust gathers never suited my style or body type well, so it got buried under other clothes. But low, and behold, it matched the bleached fabric really well.

bleached marigold dress

I was going to go ahead and cut the bleached fabric as is, but I got to thinking about the bleach and how well this fabric took to it, and decided to experiment with a bleach pen. I knew once I got to the point of bleaching the fabric, I’d have to move quickly, so I traced out lines on my curtain panel with a washable marker. The lines run on the bias down the fabric. I laid out my pieces on the fabric before hand because there were two areas where I wanted to use polka dots instead of stripes–the pockets and the cuff facings.

bleached marigold dress

Setting out my fabric on a shower curtain liner, I quickly went over my lines (and dots) with the bleach pen. I was really, really glad that I had taken the time to draw the lines with the marker first because I learned that the bleach pen is A) difficult to control perfectly and B) works very very quickly to discharge the dye. From start to finish, this process took about 10 minutes, so there was very little time to dilly dally. I plunged it in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to help neutralize the bleach before I washed the fabric. You can use other chemicals to neutralize the bleach. This Threads article recommends Bleach Stop or Anti Chlor (though the author herself preferred vinegar which was not recommended on other sites I was reading). I had hydrogen peroxide on hand, it’s cheap, and very non toxic, so I felt really comfortable choosing that.

bleached marigold dress

I did have to cut everything in a single layer, which took a little more time, but not a ton, and I was rewarded with chevrons down the side.

bleached marigold dress

The sleeves have little bow cuffs made per a tutorial on Melly Sews. Because of my limited yardage and because I wanted the inside contrast on the sleeve to be the polka dot fabric, I sewed on the bow portion of the sleeve as a cuff instead of an faced, shaped extension to the sleeve as it is in the tutorial. The combination of the batiste and the bleached fabric makes for a cuff with the most beautiful body to it.

bleached marigold dress

I wasn’t sure I was going to like the style of the bow, but it actually ends up yielding a much more functional sleeve for me. Shirts with cuffs stay cuffed on me for precisely 3 minutes, after which point, I’m tugging and yanking on them and rolling them up. Because cuffs are fitted by nature, when you roll them up, it always feels a little confining. And if I’m in the kitchen, a cuffed sleeve becomes like a straight jacket. The bow allows for more movement and hits me at a place where I don’t feel the need to cuff up.

bleached marigold dress

bleached marigold dress

bleached marigold dress

Besides the bow cuffs, the floral batiste makes up the button bands, the collar, and the yoke. I really do like how these two fabrics look together. The whole dress feels a bit cowgirl to me in the best possible way. Only now, away from my Houston upbringing since college, do I regret never having bought a real pair of boots in Texas.

bleached marigold dress

Although a 3/4 sleeved dress is maybe not the best choice for summer, I know this will be a great dress to have available come fall and spring. Shirtdresses forever!

What about you? Have you made a shirtdress of late–is it a style that makes you jump with glee?

My full review is here.

Elizabeth Made This

Let’s keep the conversation going!  Check out my sewing dreams and inspiration on Pinterest, and keep up to date on my projects on Instagram and Facebook.

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Light Chic

asymmetrical dyed tee

It’s been quite the month around here.  I have not been able to sew for the past couple of weeks because we’ve had a few rounds of snow that melted the next day right INTO the sewing room.  Apparently there’s a leak somewhere that’s causing the window well to fill up.

The first time we got it 98% dried out with towels (oh so many towels) and 4 box fans.  I was so excited to get into the room and get working.  I had achieved the rare and coveted feat of getting the two younger boys down for nap simultaneously, so I was even more anticipating getting a LONG work day in the room.  As I went into the room, I was greeted by the scene of rising water just rising over the window level and directly dumping on the floor.  I was done.  I spent the next 2 hours not sewing away happily in my newly dry room by bailing out the window well with a coconut milk can (a Sisyphean task if ever their was one).

We’ve dug down quite a bit, but the well is still collecting water, and it got yet another leak last week and was smelling awful.  It boils down to that the carpet pad will be replaced, the carpet cleaned and and the well will have to be dug out and a drain installed that runs down to the sump pump.  If this sounds like a pricey, annoying, and long drawn out affair, you’d be correct!

asymmetrical dyed tee

zippered jeans

Shibori Dyed Zippered Jeans

 

I’ve been sitting on this gray denim since January when I picked it up at Denver Fabrics’ New Years’ sale for all of $4 for the whole 2 yards.  It has a touch of lurex in it, so there’s a little bit of silvery sparkle running through it and it’s a nice weight with good stretch.  But I couldn’t leave it alone.  When I saw a blue breasted kingfisher like this one at the Denver Zoo with the kids and my friend and Noah’s bestie, I knew what I had to do.

zippered jeans
from Wikipedia

bleach splattered skirt

Bleach Splattered Skirt

So I bought this twill in March thinking I’d use it to make a pair of much needed shorts.  It was listed as coral, so I bought it with these J. Crew shorts in mind.

bleach splattered skirt

Well, when I got this twill, it was not the pretty peachy gentle coral I was going for–it was more like radioactive hallucinogenic orange.  But it is nice fabric, so I decided to make it an experiment.

[insert flashback music here]

I changed my mind about talking about my pajamas. Sew Mama Sew is doing a Pajama Party sew-along, so here goes.

lacepjs

These are my pj’s I made from this fabbo vintage pattern.

File:B2198.jpg
The pattern has bloomers going with the short pajama top, but I really wanted to have some knee-length bottoms, so I lengthened as much as made sense to me…really it was a botchy sort of affair–but I added a lot of seam allowance in the side seams and basted them together, tried them on and pin fit things until they worked which was a good solution.

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