Cap Sleeve Tunic

fullsizerenderA cap-sleeved tunic.  That’s the dressy-description.  It combines denim pieces and dyed fabric.  Including two pieces that are pre-printed…one is white and white and the other is black on white.  Then both were over-dyed.

And, I included a stencil of the logo of the Women’s March.  A personal statement.

On a garment that’s a personal statement!





fullsizerenderFront and fullsizerenderback views.



Odds and Ends 1, Coreopsis and Indigo

Coreopsis is my all-time favorite back yard dye plant.  It’s a great flower in the garden–all sunny yellow and carefree.  And, it gives a wonderful orange dye color.  Very unexpected from the yellow flower.

Coreopsis and Indigo dyed, with shibori techniques

Coreopsis and Indigo dyed, with shibori techniques

I took some pieces that I’ve been dyeing and made up a shirt-Odds and End 1.  I started the summer with a series of shibori pieces, using different plants.  Some small (6 x 6) and some larger–1/4 yard.  And, the pieces were posted on my wall.  A nice collection and in my mind, the start of a pieced quilt, but, they never left the wall.  So, things changed and evolved into garments.  Here’s the first one…

Since it’s a collection of smaller pieces, I named it Odds and Ends 1.  Indigo was added to the mix — it’s not from my backyard.  (But technically it COULD be!)   Using shibori techniques.   There was bunching to get the pieces that make up the diamond.  And the blue stripes was a pole wrapped piece.  The top of the shirt was a larger piece that had the spider circles that made tie dye famous or infamous!

Coreopsis and Indigo dyed, with shibori techniques

Coreopsis and Indigo dyed, with shibori techniques

The back of the shirt has a better view of the spiders.  And, the left side has a piece that was folded and folded and then dipped so the edges took the indigo color.

(And, of course, Happy, is in the project–her ear (well a shadow) is captured in the lower left corner of the pic of the front!)

Yellows and gold

I made up a yellow pot, yesterday to get a subtle, mottled cloud look.  I started with some crown vetch (CV)…that large pink-clover that’s Crown Vetchused to stop erosion on a hill.  CV grows fast and provides quick coverage.  Once planted, it’s almost impossible to get out of the garden.  I know gardeners who reserve special swear words for this pushy plant 🙂  I used a piece of cotton that had been treated with aluminum acetate then crumpled in a ball and tied with twine.

I put it in the pot of CV that I had heated in water.  After a bit, I noticed that the fabric was gold on one side only.  I turned it in the pot, and left it in the dye liquor, hoping to get more color.  But, no, after more minutes, there was LESS color.

Dye lesson relearned.  Heating hotter and heating longer won’t add color.  I assume that there’s a fragility to the natural dye–a botanist/chemist would have the real answer.  I think that the sugars giving the color are lost with too much heat.

So, then I added some white ash leaves to the Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 5.45.20 AMdye liquor and heated them.  I tested the white ash “fruit” and found that there was no available color.  So, I just added leaves to the dye pot. Usually this gives a deep gold/yellow.  I put my fabric into the pot and got very little added color.

I remember one time, later in the summer when I used  white ash leaves and the color was very strong.  Might be that it’s too early???

Queen Anne's LaceSo, next, I gathered some Queen Anne’s Lace (QAL).  Just a small amount, heated (lightly) in a small pot.  I crammed in my two bundles of fabric.  At last, success, I got the color that I wanted.  QAL gives a bright yellow.



Yellow clouds

Too funny…backyard yellow is the most common color in MY backyard and yesterday, I had to work hard to get it!


Printing on Cotton

Lovelovelove the coreopsis orange!  This piece was folded and dipped in a few coreopsis blooms!

Coreopsis dipped/ shibori

Coreopsis dipped/ shibori

Coreopsis and iron print

Coreopsis and iron print

Coreopsis, only print

Coreopsis, only print

lI’ve been printing lately.  I want to get that lovely orange from coreopsis.  The one at left is coreopsis and iron and coreopsis by itself at right.  Haven’t figured out how the right combination to get that deep orange in a print.

Poke and walnut leaves

Poke and walnut leaves

The poke berries are still green so I tested the leaves.  I prepped a poke pot and dipped a piece of cotton that I had prepared for printing.   Since I was in a testing mood, I also tried out some black walnut leaves as dye liquor.

The bottom of the fabric was dyed in the black walnut and the top in poke.   Both poke and black walnut gave the bright yellow that’s common from backyard leaves–the walnut is darker.  The poke is very light and that’s fine by me as I’m not really eager to dye with a plant that is sometimes considered as poisonous.

Honeysuckle print

Honeysuckle print


Honeysuckle/ferrous sulfate print

Honeysuckle/ferrous sulfate print

Honeysuckle is so plentiful and it works both ways.  The bushes get trimmed and I get some dye material!  Here’s a piece with the yellow, and another with iron, by itself!

Calendulas and other gardening

Calendulas are a wonderful addition to the garden.  Bright and cheery.

Blooming Calendas

Blooming Calendas

But, not so grand in the dye pot.  I grew the flowers from seeds and finally they’re

Calendula on cotton

blooming.  (That may speak more to my gardening or my garden!)  A boost from some soda ash made the dye more alkaline but the result is pretty weak.

Ah well.  Sometimes the magic works. Other experiments in my garden have been of mixed results.  The marigolds and coreopsis have grown well and I’ve harvested many blooms.  And, if all goes well, the coreopsis will be growing next year.  And, the marigolds will reseed next year.

The safflower plants have give me about a few flowers.  I tested with one bloom and saw some results.  I decided to dry the rest and wait for a grand end-of-season dyepot.  (Grand may turn out to be an overstatement!!)  The alkanet is growing well.  Since the dye comes from the root, that will be another end-of-season dye pot.

Coreopsis Printing for summer tops

Pick it out of the trash
Take it from your cache
What can be done with your stash?

Using a “print paste” I’ve been putting coreopsis on fabrics.  Playing with the color and designs, I’ve been building up a stash.  Now, I’ve turned the stash into blouses…

Coreopsis and rust printing

Coreopsis and iron printing

This spring, I took a class on mandelas which work nicely in their variety.  The range of hues come from a mix of an alum-based paste, combined with more or less

Coreopsis and rust printing

Coreopsis and iron printing (front)

Coreopsis and rust printing

Coreopsis and iron printing (back)

ferrous sulfate (iron.)  Then the piece is dipped in a “vat” of coreopsis dye-liquor.  (My vats are really small pots–maybe a cup or two of liquid depending on the number of coreopsis blooms that I harvested that day!)

One challenge is to amp the coreopsis color.  My goal is the deep orange that I get from a small sample, but I’ll be happy with a lighter, but definite orange.  I’m thinking that the coreopsis contains enough tannin so when the iron comes into contact, it changes the color of the dye bath.  I’m experimenting with a pre-dip of tannin, or coreopsis liquid to fix the iron and then re-dip with more coreopsis liquid.

Who’d a thunk, that I’d be spending weeks on one flower!

Yellow and blue make…surprises!

Combining colors should be an easy process.  Yellow and blue make green, or they should. But, it’s a challenge to get greens with natural dyes.  Should be easy…nature has greens all round!  Here’s a shirt that I upcycled and dyed with clover, crown vetch and indigo.

Clover and Indigo DSC01507


Clover and indigo

I experimented with crown vetch first.  I dyed a piece of cotton muslin with flowers and then overdipped it with indigo.  I was very pleased with the yellow and more pleased with the greens.  So, on to the shirt.  I’m pleased with the shirt, but the yellow isn’t as pale and the green isn’t as “kelly.”  My first dye of the shirt was more gold.  Was it the amount of fabric?  Or the fabric was linen?  Or it had been printed already–although most was still offwhite.  So, I collected some clover flowers and the yellow was more what I had in mind.  (I started to type, the yellow was more yellow 🙂 )

I had switched to crown vetch because the flowers are bigger, so less to harvest!!  But, I went back to clover.  Yup, that little white flower.







pomegranateAnother green experiment.  I had been saving some pomegranate rinds…keeping them in the fridge like gold:)  I had used them this winter and the color was a pleasing gold.  I was cleaning my fridge… so, I pulled them out and dyed a piece of muslin.  The color from the pomegranate was more gold.  When I over-dyed that with the indigo…not a green.  More of a brown.  Actually nice!


Go that away for Marigold and Coreopsis

Still loving the coreopsis.  This time I paired it with marigold and indigo.

Coreopsis, marigold and indigo

Coreopsis, marigold and indigo

Three dips to get this.  I wrapped the shirt around a pot for the first dip which gave a smoother line for the coreopsis dip.  For the marigold and indigo dips, I tied the two break points without a pot, so it was gathered more tightly.  That gave more pattern/stripes…especially in the marigold section.

Pairs and Pairs

Lots of pairs in this one!

Pairs and Pairs

Pairs and Pairs


I pulled together some of the pieces that I’ve been working on this spring.  I’ve been working with printing techniques…here’s a pair of giraffes, that were done with dandelion and iron (ferrous sulfate.)

Holland and Riley

Holland and Riley

Here’s another close-up. A pair of pieces that star the famous pair–my great nieces, Holland and Riley.  These are done with coreopsis, printed.  Partly stenciled and partly hand-lettered.

The center piece is shibori-folded using coreopsis and indigo.

Lots of coreopsis.  Partly because it’s very available in my backyard and mostly because it gives a wonderful orangey-gold.  More color in the vat…but still evident in printing.


Here’s a free form piece that I did using dandelion and iron.  When I turned it upside down, I decided it was an eye to watch over the pairs!

Marigolds and indigo

Does two make a series?  This is my second blouse done with natural dyes and for this one the half and half are marigolds and indigo.

Marigold and indigo


I collected all the marigolds that were blooming…yellows, oranges in any combination and dyed part of the fabric.  The fabric was linen from a couple of up cycled shirts.  The front is the back and the back is pieced from sleeves and one front–I guess a quilter has to piece somewhere!!

I used an ikat method so that I  could dye in a vat.  The white line is where it was tied.  To dye in the marigold vat, I used plastic and put half in a bag so that it wouldn’t get color when I dipped the whole piece.  Then, I bagged the other half and dipped it in indigo.