On a personal level, I am a wife of 40+ years, a mother of 3 wonderful young adults, the grandmother of Mira and Caitlin, Evie, Emmie and Graham. Professionally, I was a nurse and worked in hospital administration. As for sewing, it's always been a part of my life - my mother sewed my clothing and I started sewing while in grade school and have continued to enjoy it. My true desire is that others will learn and enjoy this skill so they can pass it on to their children.
By no means did I plan for every post to be about dyeing but here’s one more. This time it’s something I’d only read about on one blog and haven’t found any other references. Caroline D.H. wrote about using wool to dye other pieces of wool. Since I had a piece of off-white wool gauze that wanted to be a scarf and some other scrap pieces of wool, I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s the story.
For some upcoming travel, I wanted a new wool scarf (accidentally felted the old one – oops) but since I’ve joined Goodbye Valentino’s 2018 RTW Fast I couldn’t buy one. In my stash I found a scrap of wool gauze that was long enough but not wide enough for a scarf. So I added some scraps to the side to widen it. With little to lose, I started the wool dyeing process.
Here are the steps:
Selecting the fabrics: I chose a red piece of vintage wool crepe from St. Vinny’s, a royal blue piece of wool flannel that had a few moth holes and a lovely loden twill piece. Each was cut to one yard.
Creating a fabric roll: In the following order, I laid the 4 pieces of fabric on the floor. Red, Off-white gauze, Royal blue, Loden. I rolled them into a log and tied the log so it would stay rolled.
Bathing in Boiling Hot Water: I had very hot (not quite boiling) water ready in an old crock pot and dipped the wool pack in the water bath. After about 30″ I turned it upside down to make sure all of the wool was submerged in hot water and left it for another 30″
Setting the Dye: After cooling the cloth until warm to the touch I dipped the pack in several gallons of warm water with 1-2 cups of white vinegar.
Rinsing and Drying: Rinse the fabric in cool water and placed in clothes dryer
Enjoy the beautiful result. Below are photos of my pieces.
The royal blue has a lovely crinkled look. In the third photo you can see that there was an errant red thread that created a design (and which gives me an idea for future wool dyeing projects. As with the red, I’ll use this piece for future dyeing projects.
The loden is so magnificent I can’t stop looking at it. Since these aren’t my colors, I’m not sure what to do with it but it could easily be cut into 2 scarves.
And last of all, here’s another look my new scarf. The straight lines in the middle are from folding the wool gauze as it was longer than the red, blue and loden. Overall, a great result.
In the last post I talked about dyeing rayon jersey. The second part of that project was to dye an Egyptian cotton thrift store sheet in a greenish-grey color (pretty ugly). I picked it up at the thrift store for $.50. It was newish but had bleach spots. Despite this it had a lovely weave and thus seemed worthy of a new life so I kept it on my “to be dyed pile”.
On the first try at snow dyeing, the sheet turned out OK but it wasn’t transformed into a beautiful piece of fabric so I washed it and set it aside until it snowed again a few weeks later. Below is a photo of the first try.
At any rate, I liked the blue but was less enamored with the greens and pink. Of note, for this snow dye, the snow was very wet, thus saturating the fabric. Not sure if that made a difference but seems worthy of a mention.
On the second try, I used two colors of navy and a deep purple. The snow had just fallen and it was extremely light. As with the first time, I covered the fabric with about 2″ of snow. My thought is that the light fluffy snow didn’t saturate all of the fabric. It’s also important to note that for this second try I allowed the dye to stay on the fabric for 24 hours before rinsing it out.
As you can see below, it resulted in a floral-like pattern. Not sure how this happened, but it surely is beautiful.
Now that the dyeing is complete, the next step is to think about what to do with the fabric. Maybe just own it?
When the snow falls I get the itch to do some snow dyeing. The colors are so vibrant, the patterns fascinating and the result always a surprise.
This year I had two fabrics set aside for dyeing, though I’m sure I could find more in my stash. This a piece of brown rayon jersey I previously put in vat of spent indigo. I’m not sure what I did, but it turned out green and streaky but beautifully soft. Because the fabric had such a nice hand, it was worthy of another “dye job”. You have to admit, it looks barely salvageable.
Now, after snow dyeing, I can’t wait to use it for a t-shirt or sweater.
What are the steps for Snow Dyeing?
Prepare fabric as for any other dyeing project. In a plastic bin or container, scrunch the dampened fabric.
Add a layer of snow, approximately 2″ high, making sure that all of the fabric is covered.
3. After the fabric is covered with snow, begin to sprinkle with dye powder (my choice is Dharma Procion dye).
4. Use a tea or other small strainer to assist in spreading the powder evenly and to avoid clumps which would cause spotting on the fabric. Spread one color at a time, trying to have spots of dye in similar sizes. (Note: I use 3 or 4 colors).
5. Prop up one end of the bin so melted snow will drain away from the fabric.
6. Place the cover on the bin and wait 8-24 hours. Obviously, more time is better if you want deep colors.
7. Rinse and final wash the fabric as with any other dyeing project.
8. Enjoy your creation – or if it’s not to your liking, dye it again.
This blog has been dormant for nearly 4 years, however for the past months I’ve been thinking about how I never have the opportunity to write. It’s not that I’m a great writer, but an expectation that one should continue to develop writing and reading skills regardless of one’s developmental stage.
Speaking of “developmental stage”, I’m embarking on a birthday that will put me in the 8th decade of existence (No, I won’t be 80). That converts to happily retired, having the privilege of traveling often and most of all, being surrounded with wonderful family.
As for sewing, I continue to sew when I can. Since the last post on this blog we’ve added 3 grandchildren – 2 girls and 1 boy whom we adore, and for whom I sew. That makes 2 teen GD and the “3 Littles”, as we call them. Below are a few photos. In most of them, the GC are wearing garments I sewed. The top 2 are siblings, Graham and Evie. Next is Emmie and at the bottom are Mira and Care, for whom this blog was named.
More to come as I get caught up on the past 4 years.
Recently we took a day trip to the lovely city of Nimes, Fr (the “i” is really suppose to have a ^ over it but I’m not that accomplished with an iphone keypad). At any rate, Nimes is a huge city with a historic quarter where there’s a massive Roman coliseum from the first century AD.
Immediately after this photo was taken it began to pour buckets, so I have no more photos to share but there is some interesting fabric history in this city.
Denim fabric got its name from Nimes. Twill fabric began to be manufactured from wool in the 1600’s, both in Italy and in France. In France and specifically in Nimes, or was called “serge de Nimes”. In the 1800’s, the fabric was made from cotton only and continued with the same name, but was shortened to “de Nimes” (pronounced “neem”) or “denim”. In the world of Google Translate, “serge de coton” translates to “twill”, of which one type is denim, the most commonly worn fabric in the western world.
To close out this post I could show you a boring photo of denim, or a photo of the amazing Pont du Gard aqueduct which was also built in about the first century AD, to carry water to Nimes.
Yesterday we took the train to Lyon, Fr., for the explicit purpose of visiting the Musee des Tissus (Museum of Fabrics) and to have dinner in France’s gastronomic capitol. It was a delightful day. We started with dinner at La Picadilly, a block from Place Bellecour.
From the 16th – 19th centuries, Lyon was the European center for silk manufacturing. At me time more than 18,000 looms were in use.
As the silk industry changed in the 19th century, this museum was created as a way to maintain Lyon’s commercial advantage however eventually the purpose became preservation of the art. Currently the museum owns more than 2.5 million textile specimens covering more than 4000 years. Only a small percentage of the holdings are on display, focusing on the 16th-19th century.
On display were gorgeous silk dresses and men’s jackets, silk wallpaper, upholstery and drapery samples and of course religious garments.
Here’s the disappointing part – to protect the fabrics, rooms are dark and no photos are allowed. Ugh. In preparation for this post I looked for Internet images and there are few with high resolution. The following are a few photos and a link to items on display.
This past week, the 8th week of our France experience, our DD Angela and family visited us in Avignon. What fun we have had, visiting the sites and simply experiencing Avignon. Kevin’s sister, BIL and niece were also here for the week and stayed in a nearby apt.
Angela celebrated her birthday, a memorable one for sure, with family and a bottle of Chateaunauf de Pape from her SIL and brother. They left it for her when they departed several weeks ago.
Mira and Cait wanted to buy some “French fashion” while they were here, as did Angela. Size 7-14 clothing is a bit difficult to find but at their favorite H&M they each found fashion galore. Mira got floral leggings and a black tunic, and Cate bought glittery high tops and a dress.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the markets have been a great source for many types of dry goods and fashion is no exception. Angela found a beautifully styled cotton knit and woven linen dress with a pieced skirt. You can bet I’ll be copying this pattern. As seen the the photo, the sleeves, a front panel and back are ribbed knit while the remainder is linen.
Mira and I found a lace top with the split back, a common style seen in French clothing stores.
Mira loved it so much that she asked if I could sew one for her. For €18 I purchased the top and although I love it, I will likely take it apart, resize it and surprise her for her birthday. Of course I will also copy the style using a TNT pattern. Stay tuned for that post.
By now it’s no surprise that Kevin and I love European markets. This week our DSIL and BIL visited us, so we had to take them to two of our favorite markets – Arles and L’Isle Sur la Sorgue. Both had lots of fabric vendors with fabrics of every type.
Oh, darn, how did that photo of our new GD, Genevieve, get into this post?
After all that shopping we had a picnic on the canal in l’Isle Sur la Sorgue.
Last Sunday it was Spring in Provence, so we took a short bus ride to the gorgeous little L’Isle Sur la Sorgue, which like all Provincial towns, can clearly be classified as an antique. With it’s many canals and water wheels, some have called it the Venice of France.
I’ve previously referenced the tradition of town markets but this Sunday market was incredible – not only meat, fish, olives, cheese and other delicious things to eat but also it had a huge number of vendors with every possible type of fashionable clothing. In addition there was a large antique market.
Unlike most antique markets, this one had numerous sellers with antique sewing supplies. While I wasn’t in the market for these items, they gave me a glimpse of France’s lost sewing industry. Here’s a look at some of the lovely items. From top down; shiny thread bobbins (rayon?), huge wood print blocks, cording and miscellaneous.
Considering that we’re living in a city of approximately 100,000 people, sewing supplies and fabric are amazingly difficult to find in the Avignon area. There is one fabric store in Avignon (Tissu Rotonde I think) which has a reasonable supply of all types of fabric and some patterns but no notions. In our neighborhood in the old city there is one sewing machine shop that sells zippers, some needlework supplies,
nylons and tights. There’s also a haberdashery with adorable buttons and trims. For better or worse, as far as I can tell there are no national chains stores. The important question is: “Are there no home sewists or ???”
You may know about the amazing European tradition of holding markets in small town. We have visited quite a number of these markets, which are the source for fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, but also the place to buy sewing notions and some fabric. At the Arles market there’s even a sewing machine repair man (above picture). Some vendors have notions.
Fabric is also sold in the local markets. Vendors have a van loaded with rolls of fabric, which are unloaded on market days. The vendors of course, have a limited supply of fabric and most is home decorator fabric.
As far as I can tell, the sources for fabric in Rural France, just like in the US. What a sad situation for home sewists. While it’s great that there still is a fabric source, it’s less than ideal. What’s a sewist to do?