Category Archives: Dyeing

Minoru!

Sewaholic Minoru Jacket

Pattern: Minoru Jacket by Sewaholic
Outer Fabric: 100% wool from a local garage sale
Lining: 100% Silk Habotai, dyed with Procion Dyes (details below)
Size: 6, graded to 0 in the waist and hips
Modifications: side seam pockets, patch pockets, and tab belt

This was supposed to be my fall jacket, but I didn’t finish it until late November, and I’m just posting it now. I’m so slow! I should really get started on some summer dresses while there’s still time…

Anyway, this is one of those projects that looks good from far away, but is all wonky up close. It was my first time sewing with silk, wool, and matching plaids (or checks? what would you call this stuff?). Silk is supposed to be the hardest fabric to sew with, and wool one of the easier fabrics, but these two were closely matched in difficulty. The wool kept shifting and growing, making it almost impossible to match up the plaids when I was cutting it out. And sewing in a straight line was pretty much impossible! I just had to keep going because seam-ripping seemed pointless.

I managed to get a fairly close plaid-matching on the side seams and hood, but I don’t think it’s possible to match both the front and back raglan seams, so those don’t match at all!

IMG_5086 (800x533)

Sewaholic Minoru Jacket

I added a tab belt with buttons for more waist definition in the front, but now I’m not sure I like it. I think the buttons might be a tad too low, so I’m thinking of moving them up a bit, or just taking the whole thing off. What do you think?

tab detail

I also added side seam pockets to keep my hands warm.

Pocket detail

And patch pockets for the look and to hold my keys when I go for a walk.

pocket

I placed the patch pockets too low, creating a bit of a problem with the hem. I had to stitch a bit lower so I wouldn’t sew right through the pocket. Actually, at first I didn’t notice, and I did sew right through the pocket. Oops.

hem

I made the inner pockets out of silk because I was worried the wool would be too scratchy, but it probably wouldn’t have made a difference. And silk is definitely hard to sew in a straight line! So much wonkiness…

lining

lining

The Dyeing Process

Silk Dyeing Attempt

For the lining, I decided I wanted to try dyeing with food colouring. I’ve experimented with wool and it worked, so I thought the protein fibres in silk would work the same way. Turns out that’s not true, and if I’d bothered to google it before trying, I would have saved the house from being turned into a vinegar steam bath.  It felt like a prehistoric swamp. I was so happy with the colour, but it all just washed down the drain. Unfortunately, not enough to be able to salvage the silk, so I ordered some more habotai from Dharma and tried again with Procion Dyes. The colours shift on silk, so it came out a lot brighter than I wanted, but after the first disaster, I was just happy it wasn’t bleeding, so I decided to go ahead and sew it.

The wool outer fabric I got at a garage sale last year for practically nothing. I also got a pile of other fabric, and had fun burn-testing them all for fibre content!

I absolutely love the pattern (very easy to follow instructions, especially with the sew-along) and I plan to make another Minoru for spring – in an easier to sew cotton next time!

Sewaholic Minoru Jacket

Sewaholic Minoru Jacket

Sewaholic Minoru Jacket Sewaholic Minoru Jacket

Sewaholic Minoru Jacket

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Adventures in dyeing – plus Hawthorn sew-along!

I’ve had some plain organic cotton in my stash for about half my life. I tried sewing as a teenager and planned to make an entire wardrobe out of organic cotton. Back then, you could pretty much only get organic cotton undyed (not that it’s that much better now), and I had big plans for dying it all myself with natural dyes. Unfortunately, reality got in the way. I found out that natural dyes are actually more toxic because of the heavy metal mordants, and sewing patterns were so frustrating because of all the extra ease, so I soon gave up on sewing altogether. But I just couldn’t part with my two bins of plain organic cotton, thinking, one day, one day!

Undyed Organic Cotton

Indie pattern companies have solved one half of the problem (thank you to all of the amazing designers out there!), so I decided to give dyeing another try so I could finally use up this fabric. I ordered some Fiber Reactive Procion dyes from Dharma Trading Co. (such a hippie store – I love it). The basic idea with these dyes is that they react to the fibers at a molecular level when the dye bath is made alkaline enough.

I started with a piece of color-grown green cotton. I meant to take a picture of this before I dyed it, but I forgot. It’s not so much a green as a light muddy greenish brown – not the nicest colour, in my opinion, but I prefer blues over earthy tones, so I’m biased. You can see a piece of color-grown brown in the picture above.

Anyway, I started the dyeing process in the washing machine, as they recommend for the most even results. I poured everything in and most of the water was below the basket so my piece of fabric was not fully submerged (I used 1 lb of fabric, 3 gallons of water). It wasn’t possible to pull it out at that point, so I decided to forge on. I set the washing machine to agitate, but after two minutes, it started draining! I tried to salvage it and reset, but the washing machine just kept on draining!

I didn’t know what to do at that point, so I tried to find a bucket to transfer the cloth and add more of everything else. The only bucket big enough had been sitting outside for ages and was beyond nasty! So my boyfriend ran out to buy a bucket while I stirred the fabric in what was left of the dye bath.

I started the process again in the new bucket, but I wasn’t sure how much dye to add since there was still some left in the fabric. I guessed 3/4 of the original amount. So I stirred the fabric for a solid hour (so boring!) but at least it was a nice day, so I could just sit on the back porch instead of in the basement watching the washing machine. I wish I had pictures of the process, but it was just so chaotic!

Here is the final product:

Dyed Organic Cotton

Dyed Organic Cotton Dyed Organic Cotton

I’m amazed it actually turned out smooth and not blotchy, considering all that went wrong! The only thing I don’t like are the “lint-ball” type things all over the fabric. I can’t remember if the fabric was like that before, or if all the agitation caused it, but it makes the fabric look old, which I guess it is! I used Peacock Blue, but I have no idea how much 😮

I do plan to try this again sometime since it wasn’t so bad once the washing machine was out of the equation. I will at least dye the fabric I already have so that I can actually use it!

Hawthorn Dress Sewalong

I could not be more excited about the Hawthorn sew-along! As soon as this pattern came out, I fell in love with it. It’s so “me”. Fitted bodice, flared skirt, and buttons (I’m one of those crazy people who actually prefer buttons to zippers)! There’s another contest for this pattern, but I’m not even going to think about that this time because I really want to take my time, follow the sew-along posts, and get this pattern right so I can make many more in the future. For my first version, I’m just going to follow the pattern exactly for version 3 (the sleeveless dress below) using the fabric I just dyed. I can’t wait!