How to tie dye fabric napkins with blueberries (DIY natural dye)

naturally shibori napkins

Have you ever tried natural dyes? Some of the natural dyes I’ve used in the past are coffee and tea. They give linen and cotton a wonderful vintage look.

This time I’ve tried blueberries. They always stain my fingers and they stained one of my handmade napkins recently, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I first boiled a cup of blueberries in water for around 30 minutes. I strained the berries and left the not dark red looking water, to which I added vinegar and salt to help set the colour on my cotton napkins.

Before submerging them in the dye, I’ve knotted and folded and wrapped my napkins. I wanted to see the shapes the dye would create.

I simmered the napkins in the dye water and then let them dry almost completely. The result is the pretty lavender blue on the napkins in this post.

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But does it last?

I didn’t want to use any other chemical than the colour fixative I already had at home (salt and vinegar) but you should be able to make your dyed fabric last longer if you use a mordant.

The napkins kept their beautiful lavender colour until their third wash, after which the fabric turned a light blue. I enjoyed them as they were, but for some people they might just look like stained napkins, which is probably why my partner had decided to use the precious blueberry dyed napkins as cleaning rags when I was away. 😮

So, in short, the result is beautiful, but the dye quickly fades.

fabric napkins shibori

Slouchy, cropped cardigan (knitted)

white knitted cardigan

This is a slouchy T-shirt shaped open cardigan in stockinette stitch. It doesn’t get simpler than this. There’s no ribbing, no shaping, apart from the increase for the sleeves and it’s knitted in a cross shape, from the back piece, to shoulders and sleeves, to the two front pieces.

The fabric is lucky soft white acrylic that looks good over my mesa dresses. Being that the -28 C degrees weather doesn’t permit really permit non-warm layering, this will have to wait until spring, probably.

I keep thinking whether I should ad a closure of some kind or just leave it as it as.

white knitted crop cardigan collage

 

Oh, I almost forgot!

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Upcycled: blue wool Oslo cardigan to tiny vest

upcycled oslo cardigan to tiny vest

As happy as I was when I first made this wool Oslo cardigan, and as much as I tried to wear it outside the house, the cardigan just didn’t work! It was just so itchy! It was itchy even on top of two layers, so lining it would have not worked.

So I washed it cold and dried it hot in the drier to see if the felted wool would be a bit less itchy. The cardigan was oversized so it worked, but alas, it was still itchy. I washed it with conditioner in an attempt to make it even less itchy, but that didn’t really make it wearable either, so again into the washing machine it went, to felt even more.

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Miraculously, this time the fabric was nice and soft. So I cut it up and made this tiny vest. I used the felted wool sleeves for making guest slippers.

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I sewed some metallic snaps to keep the vest in place.

I’m still not completely sure I love it, but it’s really warm and I’ve already worn it outside twice. It doesn’t look very bag with a dress either. And it all else fails, it’s a great little layer under my coat too.

Black Knit Skirt

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I really wanted to make a simple knit skirt pattern for a while now. A couple of months ago I even wrote this post about 5 knit pencil skirts that inspired me. While I would like to stay away from a true pencil skirt silhouette, I like the effortless and fitted look of a knit skirt.

black knit skirt side

This is just a first try. I am not 100% happy with how it fits in the back, but I will wear it a few times and see what I can improve. Without modifying a pattern, this would look much better in a more structured knit, with less stretch.

black knit skirt back

Maybe it’s just the winter blues (or grays) but this skirt would be so fun in a bright or crazy-patterned fabric. It’s really comfortable to wear which is very good in my book!

Garment details:

Pattern: Self-drafted (a few hours of trial and error, but I can use this in the future)

Note: this pattern was designed with a thick knit with just 25% stretch. The fit is not the same with a knit with more stretch. This would actually work best with a more structured knit or a scuba.

Fabric: less than 1 metre black Jacquard knit 5 CAD

Notions: elastic, from stash.

Cost: 5

Blue wool Oslo cardigan

oslo wool front

I made the Oslo cardigan! In wool! Who-hoo.

I’ve been thinking about this cardigan for a long time and I am happy I finally got to make it.

I was a bit afraid I was going to fail horribly because my fabric wasn’t stretchy, like the pattern asked. I first did a test version in a dusty pink suede that was on sale for $1/m at the fabric store. This way I could see the fit in another non-stretch fabric and see what alterations I needed to make for the final garment to fit me well.

oslo wool back

Sorry for the badly lit photos!

I have this wool from Barcelona and wanted to make a coat out of it last year but… spring came! I don’t know how to call the pattern on this wool… it’s not plaid… it’s not Jacquard…

I took the risk and just cut a size bigger and sewed it using a 0.7 in (2 cm) seam allowance. I also widened the sleeves because they were to tight at the cuff. I lengthened them a bit and then made the cuffs smaller, even though I like the cuffs in the original pattern.

oslo wool 1

I shortened it as well, so it would fall just above the hip.

The construction was super fast and super easy. I pondered for a while whether I should line it – the wool is itchy and it would have given it a bit more structure – but I decided not to. I’m going to layer this over sweaters and it might look too boxy. I was also lazy to do it, but I might just do it one of these days.

I have another dark blue wool that I bought with this pattern in mind, but I bought too little of it! With the double collar and the cuffs, this pattern needed more fabric than I expected. So don’t even think buying less than 1.8 yards (1.7 meters).

Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: Oslo with the subscription 4 CAD

Pattern notes: because I used a woven fabric instead of a knit. I cut the pattern one size bigger and sewed it with a smaller sewing allowance than suggested because I didn’t want to cut it again, but if I would have to print it and cut it from scratch, I would cut two size larger for a non-knit. I also widened the sleeves and made the cuffs shorter to reduce bulk. I also shortened it to fall above the hip (and save fabric).

Fabric: 1.5 meters unidentified wool woven fabric – in my stash forever so I am not going to even try to reminder the cost 🙂

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = 4 CAD

 

Book review: Practical pattern making

practical-pattern-making

Practical pattern making is the book I wish I had read a few years ago, when I first got interested in pattern making. It takes you from zero to hero in under 250 pages. I really like this book because it’s practical, yet fearless.

Written by pattern makers and fashion designers Lucia Mors de Castro and Isabel Sanchez Hernandez, the book is organized in three sections: traditional patterns, geometric patterns and traditional geometric patterns.

The first section, traditional patterns, includes a basic pattern for a skirt and two advanced variations of a tulip skirt: one when the front includes two overlapping sides (like two petals) and another where the fabric is gathered near the waistband. Two quite striking jackets patterns follow and then we move on to the basic dress shape. Once this is explained, an explosion of shapes and transformations follow: the authors play with a multitude of dress shapes, from oval and organic to pleats and striking geometric shapes. I like how quickly you progress from the basic shape and how well each journey to the couture-looking dresses is explained.

Book review Practical pattern making 1

 

The second section, geometric patterns, makes new garments starting with a geometrical shape: a circle is being manipulated in semicircles and circle sections that become fantastic circle dresses. Squares and rectangles are folded like origami and turned into, among others, a batwing top dress and a wrap-around dress.

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The last section, traditional geometric patterns, combines the techniques learned in the previous sections. One of the five dress patterns in this section is mix between a block bodice, which is manipulated by moving bust darts, and a skirt made by manipulating a rectangle. The others are as imaginative and as fascinating as this one. At the end of the section, one has the feeling that the possibilities of manipulating block and shapes are endless. And that is easy to do.

Book review Practical pattern making 3

What I wished this book had was more commentary and more storytelling. I wanted to be inspired by the authors and know how they started, how they learned, what mistakes they made. The book is very technical and feels almost like a manual. But I missed the teacher’s voice, whispering in my year to love this book and love patternmaking.

For a designer/maker interested in creating and sewing dresses, this book is fantastic. It does not feature a lot of “everyday patterns”, so if you’re looking for basic shapes only tiny steps away from the basic block, it’s possible this book will seem overwhelming. If you’re more adventurous and love shape and fabric manipulation, this book will light up your imagination. If you’re not sure, the book includes basic blocks that you can magnify to use in your own creations, so you can use what you’ve learned to create your own, new garments. The images and descriptions make the book very clear and ready to be put to work.

Book review Practical pattern making 2

 

Note: I was offered a free copy of this book for review, all thoughts and comments are my own.

On “old as new” and not keeping a fabric stash

old as new

I’ve been recently having lots of ideas to sew new things. You know how it works: inspiration strikes, you want to go to the fabric store right that moment. Once at the fabric store, you don’t find what you need, and in a fit of despair you buy three-four other fabrics that:

  1. You might want to use someday when you are really going to work on that project you thought about two years ago. This is the perfect fabric for that project. It doesn’t seem important that the project doesn’t seem exciting anymore, this is the perfect fabric for that project. You buy it.
  2. Are simply so fun and cool and you don’t know what you’ll do with them but you love them! (They will stay in your stash for years either because you’ll never figure out what to do with this piece of fabric, or because you love it too much, or both!)
  3. This fabric would be so cute for a shirt (never wears shirts) etc.

You know what I’m talking about right?

So instead, I am trying to force myself to use up my fabric stash. What is the point of keeping all this fabric (and fabric takes space) if you don’t use it?

This is difficult, because sometimes I just don’t have the type of fabric I need for a project in my stash (like a thicker knit) or I don’t have enough. Or the fabric I have doesn’t make sense for the season. Other times I just don’t feel like sewing the project I want to use that specific fabric for. I have this beautiful chambray with tiny white flowers that was a gift from my partner’s mom and I’ve always wanted to make a shirt out of it. But a shirt is still a big investment of time and focus for me.

The second option is to repurpose/fix something I already own, which is not that exciting, unless you have a genius idea or you do a fix that changes your life completely (I might be exaggerating a bit here 🙂 ). The other day I fixed the waistband and took in the sides of a pair of lounge pairs I wear a lot but have always been just 85% comfortable. 10 minutes later they are the perfect lounge pants. Why did I wait six month to do this fix?

I’ve also turned a hoodie into a hoodie-less (?) sweatshirt and sewed in a new neckband. Went from “what’s strange with this hood? Why is it making me feel like I am a giraffe” to “oh, the freedom!” in another 10 or so minutes.

What are the advantages or using up my fabric stash and fixing/refashioning items I already own?

  • More space in an already small home
  • Less stuff without a purpose
  • Less trash (by repurposing/fixing and not throwing things away)
  • More creativity (by challenging yourself)
  • More thoughtfulness (less impulse fabric buying)

I am thinking to give myself some rules. Something like keep the stash to just one shelf or one pile. Or maybe make seasonal stashes? How do you manage your fabric stash and what’s your philosophy around it?

 

 

 

 

A hat that looks like desert ( + Knitting Pattern)

new hat

With the temperature dropping to -17 degrees celsius last Monday, I knew I needed a new hat. I had given a previous version of this to a friend and had remained hatless for the season.

I wanted to create a bit of space to tuck my hair in, which is more comfortable than fighting flying locks possessed by static electricity.

I made this hat in an evening. I used a bulky weight off-white acrylic yarn that actually feels and looks quite nice (I lost the label!) and a worsted weight pink wool for accents (also lost the label, I had it as a remnant).

My gauge was 11 sts and 15 rows = 10x 10 cm in stockinette stitch.

This is what I did:

  • Cast on 46 (this is a small size).
  • Knit ribbing for 8 rows (ribbing is knit 1 purl 1 row 1; knit 1 purl 1 row 2 and repeat)
  • Then I increased a stitch for each fourth stitch I knitted and worked it in stockinette stitch for 20 rows.
  • I then started decreasing one for each third on the knit side and just purled through the purl side.
  • I then decreased one for each second and purled all on the purl side. I knit, then purled all the stitches without decreasing for another row.
  • I then knitted 2 together until the end of the row and puled a long thread though and tied the top of the hat off. I sewed the back seam of the hat with a plastic needle (so much better than the tapestry ones I’ve been using and hurting myself with).
  • I then made a pompon and sewed it tightly on!

The hat is warm and comfy!

Let me know if you have any questions about this, I’d be happy to clarify!

 

Green textured knit dress (a modified Mesa sewing pattern)

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Happy 2016! May this be the year in which you create a masterpiece. This could be sewn, knitted, crocheted, embroidered and even just imagined in your head 🙂

The post today is about another Mesa dress version. After making my first version and realising I wasn’t very comfortable with that neckline (it’s beautiful, I just think a raised neckline is easier to layer + you don’t need to worry about lingerie straps showing). So I raised it a bit. A bit too much, I think, but this is a cold weather dress, so that’s good.

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I used a beautiful textured dark green/petrol jersey I found at Fabricland in the discount box.  Thick and warm (a little bit too plastic for wearing on bare skin, but perfect for layering.

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Since I had already sewn this, I could quickly make modifications to the pattern, cut it and sew it. In spring, I’ll use this to make a fun and vibrant version. Maybe flowers. Maybe cats. Maybe both (just kidding :)).

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Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: Mesa with the subscription 4 CAD (since I’ve already used it for another dress, I will calculate as 2 CAD)

Pattern notes: after making the pink ponte knit mesa I realised the boat neckline wasn’t the easiest to layer so I’ve redrafted it. I was a bit anxious that I will ruin this fabric as I didn’t make a muslin, but it worked out !

Next time I can lower the neckline a bit.

Fabric: 1.2 meters speciality textured knit 7 CAD

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = 9 CAD

Not too shabby!