Drawing From Lessons

Tonight I had the rare chance to redo and correct something that didn’t end well last week. I am talking about curtains for my room that I tried dyeing using the steam bundle technique last week that didn’t end well. After all of my placing, tying, and seeing the frozen flowers colour begin to bleed onto the fabric; once I added the steam into the equation it went murky yellow-brown.

I was rather distraught. Because I had had a couple other experiences like this. And this is when I had my frozen flower revelation of when to and when to withhold steam. In last weeks post I discussed the way  frozen flowers should be treated and handled when dyeing. I learned this lesson after three failed attempts at using my gathered frozen flowers. First the fern peonies, then the irises and then the steam bundle in question. I am not going to share images because there is nothing worth sharing… Just imagine a weak yellow-brown colour that has been cut with milk.

Gross.

But I will share some pictures of the lovely plants I collected my flowers from and used for the curtains.

  

(Orange and pink poppies)

  

(These wonderful irises and deep purple clematises)

  

(Blue bells and both the pink and yellow flowers on the right)

But after all this I came up with my solution. The answer is to let old frozen flowers thaw. No heat needed. So after my failures I only had enough frozen flowers to try and redo the curtains. So a week later I corrected my mistakes. Which was simple because it meant retracting the final step, which is to add heat.

Alright so here is how I got these curtains:

The curtains I used are  100% white cotton from Ikea. I went for this option because lets be honest making curtains is not the funnest thing ever so I cheated that step. When I got home I scoured them to remove the seizing, starch, oil, etc . After they were dry I hung them up on the curtain rod to check the length, I wound up cutting about one and a half feet of the bottom  since they dragged on the floor and I didn’t want floor length curtains, then I hemmed the raw edges.

After that was done I just went about collecting flowers and such keeping them in the freezer. Freezing the flowers is a way to keep them relatively fresh. It is useful if you are not planning on using them right away and you want to collect all the blooms off of certain plants and such. This is what I do because our spring show for our garden really is the best season and I don’t want to collect the flowers that have just bloomed. But when a bloom starts withering (as in the flower is limp but still wet with its colour potential. aka. plant juice?) I am right there to snip it off and toss it into the freezer.

  

(Frozen flowers)

Finally when I had enough varieties and petals to work with I began dyeing. I lay out one of the curtains down (right side up) and began spreading petals randomly. I didn’t really have any rhyme or reason to my placing of the petals all I knew was that I wanted a gradient look (I detest how pretentious, trendy and cliché that sounds but hey my curtains my decision… I just don’t like the idea of following trends…).

    

(Petal placement and close up)

Once all the petals were placed I lay the other curtain on top of the curtain with the petals (right side down this time). Once those were lined up I took my rolling pin and rolled over the two pieces of fabric to help aid the colour bleeding and to help the petals stick to the fabric. Then I folded the curtains in three lengthways (having the petals stick when you’re folding is helpful) and then rolled it up exposing the petal condensed side (so starting to roll where there are no flowers). After all that I wrapped up my bundle in string.

  

(The bundle from above and from the side. You can definitely see the colours from the petals already staring to bleed into the fabric)

Now this is where I messed up the first time by adding heat. If you can see colour seeping into the fabric at this stage because the flowers are thawing DO NOT STEAM! Just let this bundle sit for an hour or two (note: if you are using fresh flowers or freshly frozen flowers then go ahead and steam your bundle).  After that just take your bundle outside remove the string, unroll, and shake out the limp lifeless petals and voila!

   

(Some views of the curtains)

I personally did not rinse my curtains because I was afraid the colours would run  as I assume this is not the most colour fast method ever… But then again shaking out the petals seemed to be sufficient enough.

(A closeup of one of the curtains, I really like the bleeding watercolour-like quality that the petals give)

Then finally I could hang up my new curtains!!!

   

(I thought it was quite fitting that the sunset was coming in through my window right after I had put them up. It was like saying “Here you didn’t mess up this time round”!)

  

(What the curtains look like when they are drawn) 

I really like how they turned out. They match my room and they are a slightly more mature version of curtains that I had before these. I am not sure if they will get bleached by the sun over time or not. Either way I don’t think I would be particularly bothered by that because then I could try some other placement styles or other flowers. Either way I’m just happy I didn’t end up with brown. Until next time!

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