Posts filed under ‘Dyeing’

Eucalyptus and onion skins

It is school holidays in our neck of the woods so I have been busy brewing up a few different concoctions and natural dyeing and printing. At the moment I am participating in India Flint’s latest online stitch gathering which has been very grounding given the worldwide pandemic shutdowns.

An old teatowel was suggested to create a journal cover so I decided on one that has been used as a cleaning cloth. Mordanted for 24 hours with soy milk and bundled with eucalyptus prunings discovered on my walk and red onion skins. See the before and after below:

Eucalyptus and onion prints

The eucalyptus prunings were a happy find as I walked past just after the owner had pruned. I soaked them in an aluminum pot with a splash of vinegar for a couple of days. I cooked up some other old eucalyptus leaves and brown onion skins with a couple of bits of metal for the dye bath. I also popped in a few other bundles:

This one is a silk op shop shirt collar which was wrapped around a bit of copper pipe.
Wrapped around a flat piece of metal picked up on a walk.

And then these very subtle prints on some sheeting which had been soda ashed and stored.

Cotton oats bag and sheeting

Such a huge variety from the same pot. They were left overnight to cool in the pot and then I poured the liquid into a jar to save.

You might have noticed the lovely strips of silk under the collar above. I had a hank of sari silk ribbons I had picked up a year or so ago from the TAFTA Geelong Fibre Forum traders. I decided to give it a wash with the trusty eucalyptus wool and delicates liquid soap. OMG the first wash water was putrid, I think they were the dags of the sari silk industry. I washed again using the eucalyptus wash and then rinsed twice. Finally they all had to be ironed. At this stage I was wondering if they really were silk. However as I ironed them dry the silk sheen came back- only took me two hours all up! About 5% of the strips were still marked and stained but most were pretty clean. Below shows the process from a tangled mess to silky strips.

Sari silk ribbons

Now off to make some oak gall soup to do a proper mordant on a heap of cotton and some precious strips of hemp.

April 10, 2020 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

Shibori Indigo Dyeing

I have had a wonderful weekend in Sydney catching up with ATASDA textile buddies and participating in a shibori indigo dyeing workshop with the fabulously relaxed and knowledgeable Cathy Moon.

Cathy set up 4 different indigo vats and over the weekend taught us multiple processes. My aim for the weekend was to soak up all that info and try the techniques on a variety of different fabrics to compare the results. Some shibori processes work better on different types of fabric so there wasn’t a common fabric that was best for all. Some of the results are below, if you get a chance do go to a workshop with Cathy. I will be trying to attend one of her longer workshops in the near future to do more complex pieces with multiple techniques on the same piece.

Shibori Indigo dyeing 1

Top picture: Crochet and embroidered doilies (all cotton)-dipped in fructose vat, one stitched and some cotton string used for tying.

Bottom: Pole dyeing techniques on different fabrics: bamboo, fine silk, dupion silk and silk broadcloth

Clamping and scrunching

Top picture: clamping with a variety of perspex shapes-cotton and hemp

Bottom: An interesting and quick scrunching technique

Stitched shibori

Top picture: a variety of stitch techniques-left fine silk pre-dyed, right cotton sheeting

Bottom: Stitching- started on the weekend and now finished at home ready for dyeing

I have several other fine silk, linen and cotton wraps which I also used a variety of techniques on. Now just waiting for a free weekend to fire up my indigo vat and some cauldrons of natural dyes!

February 24, 2020 at 1:52 pm Leave a comment

Indigo dyeing results

After many rinses these are my indigo dyed pieces from the weekend, what a huge learning curve!

Our first day was spent making up our individual vats and preparing fabric so that it could dry overnight.

On the second day we began by dyeing a gradation. My pieces had 1 dip (+soda ash dip), 1 dip indigo vat, 5 dips indigo vat, 8 dips indigo vat. It is amazing how much these lightened after all the rinses, however my ipad photos are not showing them as dark as they actually are.

We then worked on our own projects using fabric we brought with us. I stitched up some curved lines using running stitch and overhand stitch:

I also stitched a circle which was pulled up tightly and secured then covered with plastic to give a beautiful moon:

And a silk ombre scarf with one dip all over and 2 or 3 extra dips on the ends:

I am looking forward to the arrival of the portable heating element so I can do more indigo dyeing. Next up will be some Bengal muslin (bought to support the stitching project in India from Ballarat Fibre Forum) for a Traveller’s Blanket with Dijanne Cevaal.

November 7, 2018 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

Indigo Dyeing in the forest

After a circuitous route via Monsalvat (amazing buildings and interesting art), Kuranga Native nursery (for some Eucalyptus cineria) and a beautiful drive through the Dandenongs I arrived at Marty & Jude’s wonderfully historic house for an indigo dyeing workshop. The house was originally used in the 1940’s as a sewing factory and then in the 50’s as a school annexe while the secondary school was extended. Jude kindly allowed me to rent her guest room for a totally immersive weekend. I woke this morning to see the resident sheep and goats quietly munching away (lawn movers and pruners).

She has a spacious room for classes, opening out onto a courtyard for messy work. Throughout the house her naturally dyed artwork sets a beautiful ambiance and her deck has the most magnificent views down to the creek. If you ever get the chance to attend a workshop at her home studio grab it. Postscript-she has space in November for a 2 day Indigo dyeing workshop.

This is preparing the indigo, with the lime and fructose ready to be added.

I will post some photos of my results tomorrow when I have finished rinsing.

This is a wonderful kimono made from workshops with the local secondary school:

Thank you Jude, I had a wonderful weekend immersed in a beautiful place.

November 4, 2018 at 9:45 pm Leave a comment

Rosellas and spring

These blossoms and leaves were collected beneath the red flowering gum tree as a flock of rosellas (or pandemonium of parrots) feasted above. They are very messy eaters with blossom and branches strewn all around.

There are signs of spring everywhere: daffodils, blossoms and new growth, but also the chill of winter still in the air with snow falling not too far away and torrential rain the last few days.

They will be cooked up and rolled in various op shop cottons (with a soy mordant) to see what colour the spring will bring, perhaps a little iron water in a second batch. I have a sprig of dried cineraria from the florist that will be soaked and added to the bundle for comparison. Results will be posted in a week or two.

September 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

Eco print and dye

While pottering around the shed finishing up some GeeTAG postcards, I decided to clean up and used some silk wedding offcuts I discovered for a spot of eco dyeing. I had a container of water that I had soaked some seaweed in to get rid of the sand so I added that to the pot with extra tap water- still waiting for the water tank to be installed- and some nuts and bolts. The first batch used prunus, sheoak, feijoa and melaleuca leaves and were tightly wrapped and tied with silk thread around some dried bamboo sticks foraged from the garden and a metal tine that had snapped off my garden fork. This was brought to a simmer for 1-2 hours then left to cool in the pot overnight. The metal tine was great on top to keep everything submerged.


Second from the left are some linen offcuts from an Op Shop dress I am refashioning before eco-dyeing. The experimentation is to check the effects before dyeing the whole dress. The dress I bought was many sizes too big so I removed the sleeves and used the top of the sleeves to make armhole facings, added darts as well as taking in the side seams and cutting 12 inches off the bottom.

Here are the results of the first cooking:


Silk around metal tine


More wedding silk offcuts


And the linen-more subtle with lines from the sheoak:


For the dress I think I will try a pre-mordant in soy, eucalyptus bath and adding some alum to brighten.

The second cook up resulted in darker colour out of the pot:


The wrapping was again with the bamboo sticks and metal tine but using red onion skins, rose and prunus leaves.

Much stronger patterning on the wedding silk:


close up



The linen sleeve:


and a fine silk loom end:


For all these I have laid out the organic material on half the fabric then folded over, rolled and tied. You can see this side by side here but one is the right side and the other the wrong (not mirror image) so it gave great prints on both sides of this quite thin silk.The lime green is the rose leaves-fresh from the bush- this was from my large weeping crepuscule rose.

The darker areas were the outside of the rolls where you can see the imprint of the wrapping threads.

I quite often cut up these dyed scraps to use for lots of different projects. I have been searching for a thin woollen blanket at Op shops for a while to layer and hand stitch  my pieces onto to create a warm throw.

I am hoping to dye the dress next week, 36C here tomorrow so not a good day to be steaming up the shed/studio. We will be watching the fire reports just in case.



January 6, 2017 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

Fabric swap

I can now post my latest fabric alteration results as I have heard they have been arriving at their destinations overseas. For March the designated technique was discharge.

I already had some discharge paste so I tried that first but found the results very disappointing. I then purchased some decolourant plus and found the effects just as poor, if not worse!

Back to bleach. I bought a new bottle of strong gel bleach, I don’t usually have it in the house being a natural cleaner type of person (i.e. vinegar is the strongest I go).

Excellent results straight off and very quick to activate on the navy broadcloth.

I rinsed in vinegar and water to de-activate the bleach and then washed in a little synthrapol.

Bleach discharge

Bleach discharge

April was a ‘choose your own adventure’ and I had an indigo kit I had purchased so decided to try that out. Unfortunately I think the dye powder or chemicals were too old (I did buy on sale) so there was no reaction when mixed. I will try again with fresh materials at a later date. As I had already tied, banded, clamped etc the fabrics, I made up a dye bath of Procion dark navy and used that for the dyeing instead. It is great fun unwrapping the parcels to see what effects you have. Strangely the colour on the silks was more purplish.

Swap fabrics

Swap fabrics

Silk clamped with washer and metal door handle

Silk clamped with washer and metal door handle

Silk rubber banded with plastic capping

Silk rubber banded with plastic capping

On the weekend was Mother’s day so here is the delicious ‘smoothie bowl’ my darling daughter made to follow the cooked eggs, bacon, spinach, tomato and mushrooms on sourdough.

smoothie bowlAnd the winter weather has hit, and it is still autumn. This was the effect of hailstorms overnight Tuesday:

The outdoor table

The outdoor table

The garden

The garden



May 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm 3 comments

ATC and tiling

My November ATCs for the EGV swap have been received so here is the process I followed. The theme was music so I did an image search for soundwaves and came up with several stimulus photos. I had fabric from a resist dyeing challenge which had great patterning.

The fabric was ironed onto pelmet vilene and then FME with three different metallic threads to form the soundwaves

ATC 3Next step was hand stitch, using a lovely hand dyed perle and space dyed silk perle. The stitch is Sharon Boggon’s TAST Beaded barbed stitch.

ATC threads



To complete I added ‘speakers’ using buttons and a buttonhole stitch covered washer.


The backing was formatted in text box on a word doc and printed onto canvas.


December 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm 2 comments

Johnston Collection Christmas

The Johnston Collection Christmas exhibition ‘Twas the Night before Xmas’ is up and running so it is now okay I think to put up photos of the items I made to contribute to the front hallway. Our brief was to think about Mr Johnston’s travels and the focus was India so the colours chosen were the rich vibrant colours typical of textiles in that region.

As my contribution to the 12 days of Christmas I decided to FME in gold thread. As the size was limited I opted for one piper and the musical notes are in multiples of 11.

Drying the FME on a meat tray after washing out the solvy

Drying the FME on a meat tray after washing out the solvy

Backed and framed

Backed and framed

The main piece I contributed was the Christmas tree. I had hoped to light the tree using a battery operated tea light but it was deemed to be too tricky. The first step was to dye the silk fibres and shiboried silk. While I was dyeing I also dyed some silk thread and silk rods.


Shibori dyeing silk

Next step was making sheets of silk paper from the dyed fibres which were sewn onto a wire frame I constructed using the dyed silk threads.

Top of the tree showing wire to hold the dome

Top of the tree showing wire to hold the dome

The shibori silk was steamed to heat set the paints. I had intended to use my Flower stitcher foot to embellish the edge of the silk, but even with paper underneath it was not successful. So I used paper and FME’d in gold thread along the edge of the silk.

Attaching the shibori silk

Attaching the shibori silk

It was then attached by hand stitching to the frame and silk paper with variegated red silk thread.

The next stage was constructing the dome using silk strips, gold mesh and beading.

Constructing the dome

Constructing the dome

Back to the sewing machine then to make a FME gold thread skirt, this time I did use the flower stitcher to embellish.

Flower stitcher on solvy

Flower stitcher on solvy

I also made gold tassels which were added to the bottom after washing out the solvy.

The completed tree

The completed tree

Close up

Close up

Next item was a casket to join others made by various Geelong Artisan groups at the base of the tree. The casket was to feature the colour green. The gold motifs were made first using gel stamped onto vilene, embossing powder added and then heat gunned. Other materials used were silk fabrics, the dyed silk rods, braid, beads, FME gold thread, handstitching threads and cricula silk cocoons.

FME on the casket

FME on the casket

Front of casket

Front of casket

Attaching the lining

Attaching the lining

For some reason I didn’t take a photo of the casket when it was finished.

Claudia also contributed, making some embellished decorations for a small elephant which is to be in a gift box.

She drew up her design, painted the calico elephant and then used lots of embroidery and beads to embellish (unfortunately I also did not get a finished photo).

elephant rug design

elephant rug design

Elephant headpiece design

Elephant headpiece design

We are hoping to visit the display after Christmas, it is reported to be an amazing exhibition of the talented the artisans of Geelong, the Bellarine and Surfcoast.





December 19, 2014 at 10:00 am 1 comment

August is ice dye

I have been reading several blogs where people have been experimenting with snow and ice dyeing. We are too close to the coast here for snow (though today it is snowing just 1 hour from here) so for me it was going to have to be ice dyeing.

I filled up two ice cube trays, hoping that would be enough for the technique. There are some great tutorials on You tube which I checked out before beginning.

I set up a kitty litter tray (not used for cats, only dyeing) with an old metal cake cooler. Most tutorials on the internet showed using a plastic drip tray but I didn’t have one, the metal did not affect the process.

Using cotton sheeting I put a sop cloth in the bottom of the tray to catch the excess dye.

sop cloth

The fabric had all been pre-prepared with soda ash solution a few days previously and dried, so I re-dampened the fabric and then scrunched

ice dye 1

Ice dye 2

or concertina folded onto the cake cooler.

landscape 1

Landscape 2

The scrunched fabric created some lovely flower like patterning, the pleated fabrics were more landscape like. Even the sop cloth had some interesting patterning.

The fabric was covered with the rather large ice cubes and then (mask in place) procion dye powder was sprinkled over. The whole tray was encased in a large plastic bag and left alone for 48 hours to perform its magic.

This was a quick easy process which I will definitely be trying again with different size ice pieces, different ways of arranging fabrics and different colour combinations. I will also try using the fabric straight out of the soda ash soak to ensure good colour coverage (though it may reduce the patterning if too wet).



August 9, 2014 at 10:58 pm 1 comment

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