Experiments and other stuff

Alright yay two posts in a small amount of time! I’m living dangerously I suppose.


(the Marshall kitty living dangerously by water this past summer at the cabin)

In this post I’ll be talking about the new shirt that I am currently making, Edwardian Farm, a scarf that I made, and some organization that I am rather proud of and think is rather clever… Not that other people will share my enthusiasm for it.


(photo of my four rusted-shibori furoshiki, which was another project for my fibres class this semester)

So this new shirt that I’m making is indeed another variation of the last shirt that I made but I’m opening up the skirts overlay and giving that a straight edge. Then of course the dyeing of the shirt is different as well. So the basic parts are the overlay and belt those were both simply mordanted with alum, dyed with logwood for that deep purple colour, and soaked in a soy bean solution. The soy bean solution brought out the more crimson tones in the logwood making it more of a royal purple colour.


(Soaking in the soy solution)

The soy bean solution is really simple to make and easy to use. And the reason for using it is because it has an acidic pH making colours brighter and dye particles adhere to the fabric more easily. Basically it acts sort of like a mordant.

To make it you soak a small handful of soy beans in water for 4-16 hours.




Then you blitz them in the blender, stain the liquid (I personally use a piece of linen to strain it), add a bit more water (one handful makes one litre of solution). Then it is ready to use.

Since it is winter now I am opening up to the deep colours that come from bought natural dyes, I order mine from Maiwa in Vancouver as it is the closest place for me to buy them. Most of the colours that you can get from them are honestly not my favourite, like the oranges and yellows, however I’ve grown to really like some of the colours a lot. Like Lac and Logwood. I really enjoy the deep robustness of those colours.

For the bodice and skirt of the shirt I did some quick experimentations. Firstly I wanted to see if sprinkling dye powder onto fabric would give a cool effect. I was after a splattered look. So I  used some soy solution and sifted dye powder on my fabric. These are the logwood results:


(on the left the fabric was put in an alum bath after the fabric had been sprinkle dyes and on the right no mordant… And I’m not sure what happened with the discoloured spots..) 

On the final fabric I did a combination of bundle dyeing (with blackberries and saffron threads), this sprinkle method, and rubbing turmeric into a soy soaked cloth, take a look: PC250820.jpg

(this will be the skirt of the fabric with the solid purple chiffon overlay)

And for the bodice I dyed the fabric with thyme (pale yellow) then dripped logwood dye (liquid) onto the fabric with a straw and then did the soy-numeric rub again.


(The fabric for the bodice)

 So for another one of my final projects for my fibres painting and dyeing class I made this scarf: PC170826.jpg

(I haven’t had a chance to take it to the dry cleaners yet)

The pattern on it is based off of a Russian folk art pattern that I found. I spent a day and a half drawing out the pattern, the motifs were inspired by and mostly made up by me. I would show you a picture of the pattern but I seem to have misplaced it which is infuriating. I wanted to use it again and make more scarfs. So I ended up recopying the pattern onto paper based off of the cloth…. Just more work to do.


(a few hours after I took this picture I found my original pattern under a pile of canvas cloth just my luck… Now I have two! Ah, c’est la vie. But I think this one in the photo wound up being better than the original) 

Anyways so after I had the pattern I dyes my fabric blue. I was after a more ultramarine colour but that wasn’t happening with the dyes (I was using synthetic dyes for once… And there is a reason why I’m not their biggest fan). So after about 5 blue dye baths I gave up and I transferred the outline of my pattern onto the fabric. Then I took it to school stretched it and began waxing. Now the wax that we use at school is a mixture of beeswax and soy I believe and you use it hot and you paint your pattern onto the fabric and it dried instantly. And to get the wax out you iron, steam and dry-clean your fabric. I’ve done two of those three things so far.

But before I removed the wax I discharged my fabric. Now in a perfect world I would be able to discharge to get the original white of the fabric. But that is not how discharge generally works. Also because I was using silk I had to use something other than bleach because that would have just rotted the fabric. So instead I used Potassium Permanganate and citric acid. Normally you use those things to discharge indigo. However it does also work with Pro MX synthetic dyes it seems. I didn’t know this before but my teacher suggested it and I went for it and it worked (I think he was surprised as well to be honest).

(I’m sorry for the the lack of photos for this part but I didn’t take any in the studio and I can’t find the paper pattern… So this is what you get. Sorry.)

Anyways as I mentioned that I want to make more of these scarves I got some emulsified wax from Maiwa as you don’t need to have proper studio ventilation since the wax comes as a liquid. And you can remove the wax with hot water. I did some small tests with it the other day, take a look:









(this is the wax dried onto the fabric then Lac dye painted on overtop on Crepe de chine silk)








(Left is a waxed, dyed then rinsed unmoderated piece of silk-cotton, then on the right is the same thing but on mordanted crepe de chine… Shows the difference between mordant and no mordant for Lac dye) 

Moving onto Edwardian Farm. For those of you who don’t know Edwardian Farm is a television series that was first shown on BBC 2 that follows two archeologists (Peter Ginn and Alex Langlands) and a historian (Ruth Goodman) run a farm as though it was the edwardian period for a year. Although I think the series does exceed the farming activities that an actual farmer of that time would have done (fishing, mining, dairy, swine, sheep, poultry, etc…) it does give some good insight to how all of those livelyhoods would have been done in those times. My personal favourite parts are Ruth’s. She has such an energy and scope of knowledge that comes out when she gives out information. She’s great.


(How To Be A Victorian book cover)

Now I have not read her book How To Be A Victorian, I know that I would like it despite it not being my favourite time period (mainly because I think Victorian fashion was made out to make women look like idiots… Bad hairstyles, unflattering dress cut, bonnets, etc.) because it does talk about the day to day people of those times as she says “you, me and the rest of them”. I agree those are the people I want to know about. If only there was such I thing for Edwardian Canada…  A girl can dream. And I also don’t think there would have been too many advances between the Victorian and Edwardian period for it to make a difference to me in the book. But there would be an extra appeal if there was a book called How To Be An Edwardian.

Most of the time I just pull this series up and listen to a few episodes as I am working. Mainly I do it when I am cleaning or sewing. Both quiet calm and collected tasks that need some exterior noise as they are both tranquil. I don’t listen to it quite so much when I am dyeing as most of the time I am busy watching the stove and preparing other things at the same time. It is a bit too hectic when I’m dyeing….

So to give you an idea of when I listen to Edwardian Farm in the background I did whilst I was organizing my dye fabric. Ta-dah!


It looks a lot better now than it did before. Before everything was loose and would get unfolded as I rummaged through the box. So I took the initiative to sort out all of my fabric by fibre type, fold it into neat piles, and tie the fibre groups together.









(The pile with the fancy ribbon on the bottom left is the sewing fabric pile, so the infamous silk-cotton blend, chiffons, and crepe de chine) 

So far this systems has proved to be useful and I hope it stays that way.

Another thing that I have managed to sort out is also my embroidery thread. Both in storing it and traveling with it. So before I organized this all the threads were in a big messy tumbled tin and were very prone and infested with knots. Not fun. So I decided to wind everything onto toothpicks. Like so:


I also managed to fit all of my needed supplies into this old Twinings Tea tin including my scissors that never seem to fit into any small container.



And now I am ready to finish these handkerchiefs (yes I use them and no they are not gross to wash and what not) with a hand-rolled hem and maybe a bit of embroidery embellishment on them as well.



Now all I need is a sketchbook/notebook of some kind so that I can organize all of my natural dye samples.


(natural dye samples, ironed and organized into dyestuff piles awaiting a home) 



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