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June 2015

May 2015

Report - I Day 1

I have found the first day a little frustrating.  I had forgotten all the other things you have to do when you use natural dyes, like keeping records.  So firstly I decided to start collecting my samples in the back yard so that these plants could be eliminated.     I would always wonder what that plant over there might be like.  I then realised I didn't know the names of most of the plants.  


I took photos of each one and then made a pencil rubbing of the leaves front and back so that I can identify them at a later time.  (During this process I worked out how to print from my phone.)

By this stage a lot of the samples were wilting so I had to get a new lot and then label each sample.  I wrapped my parcels with rubber bands and used rainwater from the tank, which didn't smell real good, put them into the steamer and waited.   When I was collecting the samples I found a beautiful Camelia tree that had been overgrown by a rampart vine in the yard next door.  No one lives there at the moment so I cut back the vine and found the tree had flowers all over it.


There was even enough of short stem flowers for a small vase.


 When the time was up I found that all the labels were blank, I had steamed the writting off.  It was a slow process matching what was left of the leaves to the samples.   I didn't get the clear leaf prints I was hoping for and a lot of the stuff was just a smudge of colour.  But amongst this were some nice prints.  The purple leaves gave the best colours.  (The fabric was silk organza.)



The eyes of the black eyed susans made purple stains but the leaves were just a green blob.


There were a couple of green weeds that made interesting patterns and the green stayed a fairly bright green.


I took a sample from each and fixed it in my book as a reference.  It was a success in the fact that all I did was wrap my leaves in the fabric then bound them with rubber bands and steamed them for about 30mins with no mordents or chemicals.  (After the steaming I let them cool in the steamer before unwrapping each one.)  So the process does work.  All the samples will make interesting pieces of fabric that I will embroider to make cards so nothing will be wasted.

Now that I have the process down tomorrow I'm going to try some native plants from the front of the house.  I also want to see what happens when you wrap the bundle around a stick.  I would like to try some metal tubing but I will have to buy that from the hardware store.  I think the metal could change the colour considerably.



A new direction

Today I am going to start experimenting with some bundle dying.  I read an article by India Flint about a dying process she uses which needs no chemicals.  I immediately bought a copy of her pocket manual, "The bundle book."

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Then bought a set of cheap stainless steel saucepans from Kmart.


Along with some wool and silk fabric and silk yarn to do the wrapping.  I got this from Beautiful Silk in Victoria.  I put the order in on Saturday and it arrived in the mail on Monday, great service and beautiful fabrics.  (They ship all over the world.)  I love the little silk bag my fabrics came in.


Firstly I am going to take a short walk out the front of the house to gather a supply of leaves.  That is one thing I have plenty of.  (My grand daughter says she loves my forest. ) I don't have to pick the leaves there are plenty that just fall from the trees.  I have a side burner on the new BBQ so I don't even have to mess up the kitchen.  I did a lot of dyeing with the students in my textile classes at school but this is something new and not as toxic as working with commercial dyes.  I will let you know how it progresses.


I am being single minded about this project as I want it finished early June.  (The class will be in August some time.)  There is a lot of stitching and it takes concentration.  I am setting myself stitching blocks of 1 hour and then I do something else to ease the eyes.  Otherwise I have blurred vision which isn't good for counted work.

Now I'm not sure if I like the border pattern so will stitch another one on the other side.  The little bit of the border that I have done is 3hrs of stitching so it is slow going.


This is definitely a wall hanging, I think.  I had thought of making it into a bag.  I'm still not sure about that and those blank spaces in the central design are driving me crazy!  Maybe I should have butted that edge design up close to the central design?  I will try it on the other side.

Some more recycled items

There were some great items that members made.  I love this arm chair caddy.  What a great way to use some old doilies?


And how about this from an old rectangle doily?  Folded in half and the then into thirds, a lace pocket added and and antique button and you have a pretty holder for your tea bags.



Then for this hand towel old lace was used to decorate the towel and to make lavender bags.



I will post more images later in the week as it is late and I am on Grandmother duty tomorrow.

Mother's Day Challenge

Every year my cottage patchwork group set a challenge for our Mother's Day breakfast.  This year our gift was to be a piece of recycling.  All my old doilies are in storage so I made a trip up to St. Vinnies in Toowoomba.  ( You have to admit that was a great excuse to go to Toowoomba?)   They didn't have a lot on offer I'm afraid and the piece I selected was very used and thread-bare.  Before I cut it up I stablised it by applying wisperweft to the wrong side.  


If you haven't used this before Thread Magazine has a good article here.  Another thing that always takes me aback is the difference in retail price between the same product in Australia, $12, compared to the USA $4.  (Some one is making a lot of profit or maybe there are multiple middle men.)


I cut the lace off the edge to use around the seam and although it was scalloped it still seemed to work.  I then  fussy cut up my pieces cutting around the holes.  I wanted to make a little bag you could hang so decided on making a tea cup that could be hung by the handle.   I put some small scissors and a reel of thread inside.


To give the fabric a bit more strength I also insterted some wadding and quilted this.  I don't think that fabric will rip now.  Because I added to lace I couldn't get the zipper inserted the way I wanted but it still looked ok even if that lace was a bit wonky.  It was such a pretty doily I'm glad it now has a new lease on life.


That cutting mat

I am slowly becoming accustomed to my lack of workspace.  Although we are looking at putting on another story to this house so maybe  thenI will be able to spread out a bit.  But that is going to be 12 months in the future, so for now I just have to make do.

The new cutting mat is by Matilda's Own and work like a lazy susan.  I don't think it would be any good for large amounts of fabric but it is great for anything up to about 12 inches square.

(There it goes again, sideways.)


It fits really well on the end of my Sew Eazi machine table and I have also bought a small steam travel iron that will sit on the other side.  So things are looking up.


I have also put hangers on the ends of the book case and have hung my work tools here.  Sure is easier to find than searching through a draw.

Fingers Crossed

I think I have some of my photos back again.  Here are those Shashiko mats that I finished.  I used an insulated wadding so that they would withstand high heat.  I also made them a bit bigger than the original size.



(I am doing so well here I will have another try.)  The knitted beanie for my grand daughter. (The same pattern that I used for my daughter.)


A couple of appliques on cheap T shirts for the girls.



And I don't think I will trust my luck any further with this computer.



Yet another try with these images. They have come out sideways but that is better than nothing.   I have actually got a bit further on this one but this is the only image I can get up to the blog.  Sitting all day trying to get the photos back gave plenty of time for stitching.  i do have a better image in iPhotos but I just can't get it.


I have also finished the Shashiko set of mats I was working on as well.  (Again the images are somewhere in the machine.)  This is when I was trimming up the mats for assembly.  I love my new circular cutting mat.  Great when you only have a small space.



I have done quiet a bit of work but both of my computers are playing up.  I have spent all day trying to recover my photos.  They are all there but I can't get to them.  Looks like these little petals will have to go in for repair.