purple-y jade

Remember my little charcoal Jade skirt? and how I mentioned I needed wanted it in a heap more colours? well, to cut to the chase, ta-da!paprika jade skirt

Pattern; the Jade skirt by Paprika Patterns.  Now I’ve always said Vogue 1247 is my favourite pattern for a little winter skirt… well.   It’s early days and I can’t say this pattern has usurped that princely position just yet, but it’s peeping over Vogue 1247’s shoulder, and sneaking its hand quietly up to the crown.  It doesn’t have pockets, true; but it’s fun and cute and different from just about everything else out there, and for stretchy knits I reckon it comes pretty close to the perfect little winter skirt.

below; the lining perfectly matches my tights for some reason, oh yeah, because it’s cut from the leftovers
Fabric; a silk/cotton knit from KnitWit in a rich bordeaux purple, and lined with black stretch polyester, the same stuff I make all my tights from.  It appears slightly browny-rusty coloured in these pictures but trust me, it’s really rich wine/purple.  I initially honed in on this exact fabric in a very nice, mossy swampy green, then thought a bit more about the skirts I already have and the colour of tops I have… see, trying to plan a bit more, be more, what’s the buzzword of the moment? o yeah… intentional about this and not so spontaneous and frivolous and crazy impulsive.  Sensible, even!  So this is a very handy colour, new to my wardrobe but still toning in very nicely with tonnes of things in there quite beautifully, and I’m trying to push away naughty thoughts of zooming straight back over to KnitWit and snapping up some of that nice moss-green anyway.  Still thinking about it, but trying not too.  Semi successfully.  I’m giving myself a month, and if I’m still dreaming about that mossy green, then I’m giving in; but in the meantime I’m going to be strong and RESIST.

purple jade back

Because there were faults in the fabric, the lady in KnitWit kindly gave me a little extra, so I still have enough left of this purply knit for a top of some kind, though probably with contrasting sleeves… so am giving some thought to black pleather, or even olive suedette or something like that.

In the meantime I have a zillion other things on my list too; gotta get cracking.  Just too many ideas, and not enough time!

paprika jade skirt pattern magicnettie

Details:

Skirt; Paprika Patterns Jade skirt, in reddish purple cotton/silk knit
Top; the twist top from Pattern Magic 1 by Tomoko Nakamichi, in bottle green ponte, details here
Bodysuit (under); Closet Case patterns Nettie; in paprika stretch polyester, details here
Tights; own design, black stretch polyester, details here, and my tutorial for making your own tights pattern here
Shoes; made by me, details here

purple jade

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the year of handmade, 3

yoh3So I was wondering whether to do a me-made May summary, whereby I drone on about “what I learned” and all that blahdeblah, or to just stick with my schedule of a brief monthly update on my Year of Handmade.

Clearly, the latter won out, hehehe.  Although I have been joining in with the me-made May crowd, and have the Flickr album over there to show for it, although to be honest, I feel like my year of handmade is a far bigger challenge, and the month of May is just a small chunk out of that particular cake.

Above is pictured a selection of my favourite 100% self-made outfits for the month; and actually, showcase quite a variety of my handmade shoe collection too.  Six different pairs!  Out of a total of fifteen, not counting the two pairs that have died.  Okaayy.  I’m mildly impressed with myself, actually.  Who’d have thunk it?  not me, that’s for sure…

So, what’s what?  Well, of course the shoes do continue to be the challenge, the biggie; in fact I reckon are the only challenge for me, full stop.  I haven’t lost any shoes this month, due to hard wear or weather or inappropriate choices for the given activity or anything (phew) but I’ve had to perform some running repairs.  I’ve found superglue to work in a pinch and in tight spots, but ultimately contact gel adhesive is the best.

Anyway, minor celebrations are going on, albeit just in my head! since….

I’m a quarter of the way through!  WOOOT!  I’m pretty excited about that, feels like a bit of a milestone.  That’s autumn polished off, though I’ll admit autumn is a pretty non-demanding season, shoe wise.  Winter is going to be the acid test.  Eeeeek.

The entire collection of my outfits so far can be viewed here…

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little white tank

hunter tank top front
hunter tankI’ve made this new top! rather cute and feminine with a sweet little tie front at the waist. Yes, it’s linen, it’s plain, and it’s white.  I just can’t help it, I’m a diehard white or off-white top kind of a girl… I’ve got stacks of them and keep on piling new ones in t the ol’ wardrobe because I never have quite the right one, and always feel like I could use just a few more, in different styles and fabrics.   Also; white fabrics; honestly, sign me up for the Addicted t
o White Fabric club, asap!  Every time I sort through my fabric stash I say to my husband and to Cassie; please, DO NOT let me buy white fabric, ever again!!!  I think I have enough to last me a lifetime of sewing nothing but white or at least off-white or ivory or just plain pale clothing for myself… and yet,when making something I find I never have that just-right type and find it necessary to head out to the fabric store to search for it…. aaaagh!  I’m going to the fabric store later today, just to buy elastic and am steeling myself to Stay Away from the fabric area… *giving myself a stern talking to*
This particular fabric is fine-grade handkerchief linen; a long term resident from my stash thank goodness.  Provenance long forgotten, ahem.

The pattern; so, recently I was contacted by Jen, of Jennifer Lauren Handmade, who asked me to review her latest pattern the Hunter tank top, and this is it!  Cute, non?  I reckon so.  Mine is view 2, with the skinnier shoulders.

hunter tank top back
It’s a simple and rather classic design, with that front tie feature to distinguish itself; all cut on the bias and with centre front and back seams because there is a bit of shaping in it.  I LOVE the teeny little breast pocket on it! so very cute! not that I’ll ever be putting anything in it but it’s a sweet decorative touch; which I reckon a plain white tank top NEEDS.

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I followed the instructions, which are very thorough btw; and aimed at someone who knows how to sew but is still relatively new to making clothes.  I did the French seams and flat-felled seams where indicated throughout, and one of those super skinny hems at the bottom that look really nice in linen, made by stitching three times.  So, it’s rather beautifully finished.  That’s something else about very plain and basic items; they really should be finished well in order to stay the distance.  I took my time and made sure I did, even to the point of unpicking several bits and doing them over.

you could probably wear it untied too, looks kinda dramatic

hunter tank top untied

Thoughts; it’s a lovely classic design with very good bones, and a lovely fit and drape, thanks to the bias cut and subtle shaping through the centre seams.  I think the design does need fabric that has a bit of “grab” to it for that tie to stay tied up.  My linen does, but it does tend to loosen over time too, so I think in a soft, slinky, slippery fabric like crepe de chine the tie might slip out pretty quick if you didn’t anchor it somehow.

hunter tank top side

It is quite short, designed to sit at the natural waist, so is very nice to wear with a high-waisted skirt or jeans.  I have a few things that fit the bill, so yay!  I’m also planning to make it lengthened a bit by next summer and without the tie-feature, to wear with some of my more low-slung things as well.  Actually, lengthened possibly even to dress length!  while making this one I was already hatching plans for a tank dress using this pattern… mwahaha.

NOT a white one!

hunter tankvogue2894

Details:

Top. the Hunter tank top by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, white linen
Skirt; Vogue 2894, red floral cotton, lined with purple cotton, details here
Shoes; made by me, details here

hunter tank top

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a passing housewife

passing housewife

What am I?  I am a passing housewife!!!

Hehehe just to explain, Izumi Curtis is a character from my favourite Japanese anime Fullmetal Alchemist.  She always introduces herself as just a passing housewife, and so is the character I can relate to the most.  And so, when it comes to choosing an anime character for myself… Izumi Curtis, I choose you!!!! …that’s a pikachu reference there, in case it did not translate…

Izumi Curtis, character and artwork by Hiromu Arakawa

Artwork_of_Izumi_Curtis

So, firstly… WHY??  well, in Northbridge there is a retro video-gaming bar called Respawn that my kids like to go to… and I should just slip in here that this VERY MUCH a young adult’s kind of a place to hang out on Friday and/or Saturday night.  Anyway, last night was Mum’s Night, like a nod to Mother’s Day last weekend, and the deal was that if you brought your Mum you all got free entry.  So naturally, Sam and Cassie hatched a plot that I would be going along with them.  Of course I said yes! how often do I get invited out on the town with my adult kids? pretty rarely, that’s what!  I won’t say never, since my kids are pretty fun and relaxed and not usually embarrassed by my company, but going out to a nightclub in Northbridge is not generally a family thing to do, mmmm?  Fellow Perthies will attest to that  😉

Another thing about Respawn is that people often cosplay it up… and so I set about planning and making my costume…  I made a sleeveless white shirt-dress/coat-dress, I wore my recently completed Morgan boyfriend jeans, and I made a pair of Japanese toilet slippers like the ones Izumi always wears.

vogue 8997 ccf carolynmorgan jeans

Coat-dress/shirt-dress:

I used two patterns; Vogue 8997, a dress pattern, and for the notched collar I adapted the neckline and spliced on the collar from Closet Case patterns Carolyn pyjamas.

Alterations:  for the collar, I added width to the centre back lines of both collar pieces, to fit the width neckline I was after.  I also squared off the collar points somewhat, so as to match the more square collar points of Izumi’s coat dress.  For the dress; I cut the bodice fronts to have a centre front opening and adapted the neckline to have the notched collar bit, and added enough extra width in the centre front to accommodate the button and buttonhole band.  Likewise the front skirt piece has the buttoned opening.  Likewise I cut the back skirt to have a centre back seam, and added a bit extra to the lower part of the opening to hem it.

shirtdress

The bodice front and back are in double fabric, and self-lined, so as to enclose the princess seams within the layers.  Even though this is just a costume, I reckon there’s no need to cut corners and do a shoddy job of sewing it!  I had a small moment of shock when my own Mum suggested just cutting the collar in a  single layer of fabric and leave it with a raw edge … oh the horror!!  I dunno, call me obsessive, but nowadays I could probably not sew a garment all rough-shod like that in all good conscience.  Making all my clothes for the past few years and I am now a fair dinkum full-on, signed up member of the well-made clothing snob club, right here.

bodice closeup

Izumi’s coat-dress/shirt-dress is very well fitted, practically skin tight across her bosom which suggests a stretchy fabric.  However the collar is also quite structured and stiff-looking, more like a regular woven-fabric shirt collar.  So, to get that tight, fitted look; I used two different fabrics in my bodice, a stretch and a non-stretch.  Actually, I used three different fabrics all together… but more on that later…. to get the fitted tightness of the bodice AND the structured collar, I cut the bodice front and back from stiff woven ripstop cotton, and I cut the bodice side fronts and backs from stretchy bengaline.  This way, there is stretch at my sides, but the shirt fronts maintain that nice crisp look of a tailored notched collar shirt.  When fitting the shirt-dress/coat-dress to myself, I left the side seams until the last thing, and the final step was to pull in those bodice side seams nice and tight.

And yes, the skirt is a different, woven cotton… one that is not so stiff and has a bit more flow to it, more suitable to a skirt than the rip-stop.  All are long term residents from my stash, probably from Fabulous Fabrics originally.  The white buttons were harvested from a recently chucked-out doona cover.

slippers

Slippers:  Izumi always wears these Japanese toilet slippers…. this is to reiterate her status as a humble housewife and that she spends her days cleaning and doing housework.  I made these very quickly and simply, the padding is cut from my good old yoga mat, covered with black cotton cut from an old Tshirt.  For the uppers and the underneath bit, I used some very stiff thick black cotton from Remida, from when Meggipeg kindly invited me to go with her the other day.  I did the WC letters on the top by couching with some thick, white wool, leftover from Cassie’s beanie that I knitted her for Christmas.

couching

Another pretty important component of Izumi’s look is the Flamel tattoo.  Cassie drew this on with a ballpoint pen; it was a little bit hidden on me, but ’twas there…

flamel

And, you may be wondering… did I wear this outfit, and these slippers in the streets of Northbridge and in the club? well yes I did!  You can rest assured that the other Mums were of course wearing all black, and heels or ankle booties and the like… but not I!  I am just! a passing! HOUSEWIFE!!!!!!

izumi curtis back

pictured in the club…

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teal suede heels

teal suede

Heels!

I’ve made some high heeled wedges, specifically designed in colour, shape and height of heel to go with my newest Alabama Chanin outfit.  Hurrah! I know, right? we can all breathe a sigh of relief now.  I’m sure everyone else, just like me, has been lying awake at night, tossing and turning, losing sleep over the thought that I didn’t have any shoes that went with that Alabama Chanin ensemble.  Nail biting stoof.

No?  Just me then? wink wink

teal suede side

I didn’t have any fabric or leather in a colour that went well with my outfit; until…!  While browsing through Spotlight one day, I spotted a pack of so-called premium leather remnants, the “leather” side is black but the “suede” side was a rather beautiful shade of deep oceanic teal.  I thought it went very nicely with the blue/green shades of my newest onn-sohhm-ble (said in an ott Frawnch accent).  So I bought a bag.

Well.

leather remnants

What was I thinking?  All I can say is this; under no circumstances ever buy those “premium” leather remnants in a bag.  Unless you really wish to pay $12 for a raggedy scramble of what is essentially awkwardly shaped, screwed-up scraps, typically around 4x15cm in size, barely big enough to make babies’ shoes, even.  And if you’re making shoes for an adult human? nope!  Premium?!  LOL!  I would LOVE to see the not-so premium stuff!!  It must be heeeeeeeeinous!!!  Because; not to harp on, but this stuff is crap.   However.  I steeled myself to it, determined to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.  Or, a polyester satin purse, at least.  I was determined to NOT waste this leather and make the best of it that I absolutely could… but I do have to admit that these shoes are not my finest hour.   This was the absolute best I could do!

Some of my most successful shoes have been my denim shoes; that are a hand carved balsa wood base covered with fabric.  I decided to repeat that procedure for a pair of high wedges.. and so I hand carved a pair of soles.  These turned out fine, all well and good.

balsa bases at right; at left is another future pair of pine clogs

shoe bases

Covering the bases, I used the absolute biggest pieces of scrap leather I could glean from my bag of paltry clippings… the colour wasn’t perfectly even throughout, some pieces were a deep deep oceanic blue, while some pieces were more of a faded, smoky grey/blue.  I’m not against colour variatio, not at all!  but they certainly make for more of a challenge.  And when you’re piecing together pieces to cover a shoe base, it just doesn’t look so good to abut different shades around the shoe.  You can see below; the liner of the right shoe is two pieces of very different colours, joining just front of the heel.  I figured that wasn’t a bad spot for a join, because it couldn’t really be seen when I’m wearing it, underneath my foot there.

teal suede shoes

For the uppers; there are eight strips of leather per shoe, sewn at each end to a piece of sturdy cotton denim that is glued underneath the suede liner piece.

The eight strips form “arches”, which had to be tight enough to sit snugly over my instep, whilst at the same time still allowing the frontmost, widest part of my foot to fit through all the arches while I’m putting them on.  This took some fiddling to nut out… also, the straps are essentially woven together across each other and so there are some straps that are key to the design, the middle one across my toes, the two long diagonal ones and one of the highest instep straps.  These four provide the stable backbone for the others to be woven into and are essentially holding everything all in place.  I then added the others more randomly, arranging and weaving them through decoratively, but they do also add strength.

Now, I say “random”; I’m all for random, but I’ve found that true randomness is more visually pleasing when there is some element of order and method in there somewhere.  I like the fact that the strips appear to be a disordered riot of criss-crossing strips; however the shoes are actually exact mirror images of each other with the strips set in exactly the same places to each other.  But when I put them on I do have to “arrange” them all!    Underneath the shoes, I’ve glued pieces of thick, tough black rubber, so the shoes can stand up to the rigours of life on da streetz.

So, yay! new shoes!  They are just the right height to go nicely and unobtrusively underneath my new Alabama Chanin skirts, keeping them up and out of the dirt.  I think the skinny straps look quite nice against the design of my outfit; matching but not too derivative, in a harmonious colour; and a design quietly complementary while not stealing the show away from my embroidery!  Bam!  I’m happy  🙂 well, reasonably so anyway!  And they will do absolutely fine, at least until my Year of Handmade is up and I can return with some joy to the undoubtedly more attractive rtw shoes in my collection!

teal suede top

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olive leather desert boots

olive boots with pink

I’VE MADE SOME REAL LEATHER BOOTIES!!!  (screams hysterically and with a certain stunned disbelief)

olive boots w yellowfabricnippori

And I’m sooooo happy with them, finally 🙂

Leather; I bought both the olive/tobacco brown leather and the coloured leather strips for laces from a leather shop in the Nippori district in Tokyo, pictured on the top, above with my other Nippori treasures.  Do you like the variety of shoelaces? They’re pretty fun, yeah?   I bought three different colours, hot pink, golden yellow and caramel/mustard.  I’ve also got some store-bought, bog-standard black ones for them (below).

olive boots with black

I like all of the colours, simply cannot decide on a favourite.  Oh ok, of course I can! for now, I’m digging that bright pink, sorta unexpected,  like lipstick on a pig  😉

oink oink!

olive boots pink laces

Pattern; In shape and style they look just like my previous paprika suede desert boots, and so they should because I used the same pattern!  The heels on these are lower than my paprika boots; that higher heel looks a little more refined whereas a lower heel is casual which I reckon is better for the slightly grittier tougher look of this leather.

they fit with socks too

olive boots with mustard

Thoughts on construction: I did find the leather both easier and more difficult to work with… easier, because leather really is a far superior material to work with than synthetics; it does mould and form far far better to the shape you want it too, plus it “skives” beautifully, whereas plastic leathers and that paprika upholstery fabric does not.  However, and paradoxically; I also found these shoes to be more difficult to make than my paprika ones, because my leather was actually quite thick and less pliable than ideal.  It was harder to sew; my sewing machine coped fine with it, but it was so stiff as to be difficult for me to manouvere it around the sewing machine while sewing it. and stretching it over and around my lasts took more effort and grunt-power too.  Being a leather shoe newb, I did not fully appreciate that it was not ideal until I was halfway through making the shoes, of course.  Anyway, I think I managed to wrangle it into submission eventually.

olive boots laces

The shoes are fully lined with chocolate synthetic suede, bought from the Fabric store in Melbourne during a past trip, and all topstitching was using chocolate brown Gutermann’s upholstery thread.  I constructed the heel counter and toe puffs using stretch cotton denim and PVA glue, and the soles are black rubber sheeting from Bunnings, which I cut up to make stacked heels and the sole.  Like all my other shoes, these are sanded down before glueing together with contact adhesive, and the heels are nailed to the soles inside, as pictured in a previous pair here.  Also as usual, I made the liners using foam inner shoe soles from Coles, cut to size and covered with chocolate suedette using PVA glue, so they match the interior.

olive boots yellow front

Excuse the picture overload.  I’m just so happy and thrilled with them, I’ve been excitedly threading and re-threading with the different coloured laces and prancing about my house, taking pictures of them.  I LOVE all the laces!  In fact, I’m just in love, full stop!

The only laces I’m meh on at the moment are unsurprisingly the store-bought black ones… which, simply because they are boring, paradoxically will probably become the most useful and worn ones.  Or not.  I think maybe I should stop being boring,  I need to break out and wear the fun stuff more often.

olive boots total

And that’s it!  Ahhhhh, I feel like I can hang up my shoemaking hat, or should that be lasts? for the moment, since I think I’ve covered my basics and probably have enough essential shoes to last me for this winter now.  Although, of course I am not.  In fact I’m already started on my next pair of footwear…. mwahahahahaha.  eeek! I’m addicted!  SO much inspiration to be had, and so little time!

olive boots side

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charcoal jade skirt

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I’ve made a new little mini skirt!  It looks sorta plain at first but it has an interesting folded front that makes it a little bit more exciting.paprika jade skirt   It’s comfy and easy, and I also think it’s pretty cute too:)

Remember that fun “pick three descriptors that define your style” thing that we were all doing a few years ago?   The three I kept coming back to for myself was : Simple, slightly sporty, and with a twist.  It’s hard to define the complexity of yourself in just three things, but I still think those ones pretty apt for my style, and they also describe the style of this new skirt, and actually this whole outfit pretty well I think!

Pattern;  the Jade skirt, by Paprika patterns.  This first came out a year ago? I think? and pretty much every single version I’ve seen has made me sit up and pay attention like mmmm ooo, nice! must get that pattern!  So finally I did.  An early Mother’s Day present… from me, to me  😉  This skirt is version A, the short one, obvi.

the back is quite plain

jade back

Fabric; light but sturdy, charcoal grey cotton jersey, from KnitWit; stretchy but stable.  I opted to make a version with no zip, since I thought my fabric was plenty stretchy enough to work without one.  And, turns out that it’s not really.  Ooops!  The waistband doesn’t stretch enough to get over my “child-bearing hips”, as my grandmother used to call them! so I pull the skirt on over my head.  I’ve got quite slight shoulders compared to my hips, so this is pretty easy.  I’ve had a few things in my lifetime that I’ve had to put it on in this way!

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Adjustments; the skirt seemed at first quick perusal to be reeeeeeally short, so even though I knew I would only be wearing it with tights I added about 2cm in length.  Of course this then diddled about with the folding on the front bit but I managed to incorporate the extra length fairly seamlessly by slanting the lowest two folds each just a touch further downwards than they should be.  I think you can hardly tell, which is good.  However I probably wouldn’t bother with adding any extra length to any future versions , since I think it would be fine without it.

I fully lined my skirt with the same fabric, the design has a nice, neat and tidy construction whereby all the seams are hidden between the two layers, with the very last step hand-slipstitching the inner waistband facing down inside the skirt.
It’s a lovely tidy way of putting it all together

Final verdict:  I LOVE it!  Simple, slight sporty, and with a twist!  It’s perfect for me!  Ok, I don’t have much else to say, so if you’ll excuse I think I need about a hundred more in all different colours….  *plotting*

paprika jade skirt bs111:4:14 bs4:14

Details:

Skirt; Jade, by Paprika Patterns, in charcoal cotton jersey
Top; Burda style 111-04-2014, in white bobbly fabric, details here
Tights; self-drafted, black stretch, details here and my tutorial for drafting your own tights pattern is here
Shoes, my own design and made by me here

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totally local, natural dyeing

naturallydyed wool

Above: top row L to R; indigo, avocado skin, bracken, lower row L to R; coreopsis, chopped avocado pits, whole avocado pits

Progress report.  I’ve been fiddling about with natural dyeing for my Totally Local outfit… this is the new name for the challenge known last year as 1 year 1 outfit; where we make an outfit for ourselves using ONLY locally sourced materials and absolutely nothing NOT!!!  Yep, for us that rules out zips, thread, and even fabric!  making it quite a challenge. That’s ok, I love a challenge.  The “totally local” is the brainchild of Nicki, of this is moonlight.  I enjoyed myself so much last year I wanted to do it again, and have been brainstorming ideas and hatching plans for my outfit for this year, mwahahahaha.

My outfit from last year is here… and it’s all very…  colourless?  isn’t it?  That’s because I opted to use just the natural undyed merino and alpaca wool for my outfit, which is all white or off-white by default.  The only one shot of colour in my ensemble is the brilliant chartreuse sour-grass dyed crochet border on my underwear, which is hidden away!  Yeah that was a bit silly, wasn’t it?!  Anyway, this year I am aiming for a bit more colour in my ensemble, and so have been gathering lots of materials and bits and bobs to make some pretty COLOURS!

So here’s the run-down…

I’ve been buying skeins of handspun, naturally white merino wool from Bilby Yarns.  This merino is 100% Western Australian, grown, sheared and, well, everything locally.  The fleece was spun by two lovely local ladies, Beverley and Gwen.  Literally, nothing about this wool has ever stepped foot outside of the south west of Western Australia, so it qualifies for the challenge perfectly!

You might remember that last year I used naturally white merino yarn that had been handspun by Beverley, for the kangaroo paw embroidery and sewing-together of my felted dress.  I still had some of that yarn left over and simply bought some more, as Beverley spun more.  In some cases, I bought  it still wet from its wash!

Now on to les couleurs…

indigo

Blue:  I owe this beautiful shade of indigo blue to Nicki from this is moonlight, thank you, Nicki! Nicki sourced and nurtured a pot of local indigo… I think it was with the assistance of Trudi Pollard? (not sure, maybe Nicki can correct me if she reads this!) and then, when she learnt she would be going over to the eastern states and would not be taking her indigo pot with her, generously offered to share it with a few others of us local girls who are doing the project, .  Thank you so much, Nicki!  we had a great fun day, dyeing with various locally sourced dyes that Nicki had built up.  I personally only had eyes for that enormously difficult to obtain BLUE.  I soaked a few of my skeins, gently wrung them out and bought them home unwashed and still full of the dye, to “steep”.  Those skeins turned out intensely blue… practically navy!  So, at home, after a few weeks of sitting, I soaked those skeins with some fresh, new, white merino, and the washings gave me this lighter shade of mid-blue above.  I’m planning to keep and use those deeper blue skeins, probably next year, because for this year, I really wanted these more washed-out shades.

My blue wool above is pictured here with some of my own indigo plants, that I am careful nurturing and trying real hard not to kill.  I do hope to use these for dyeing… one day.  Obviously that is not about to happen anytime soon, though.

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Pink; from avocado pits, merino pre-mordanted with alum.  My avocados were grown on a market garden in Wanneroo, and I bought them from Scutti’s, my local greengrocer.  Basically, I bought them while in season and have been hoarding and freezing the pits and skins all summer!  Once I had enough pits to play with, I gently brought my wool to the boil with some unbroken pits as described in this method here, and left it to cool in the dye and then to soak for a further four days, as the colour of the pot deepened.  I was seriously blown away by how beautiful the colour turned out! so I’ve been collecting more avocado pits and will probably do some more wool this exact same shade.  I LOVE IT.

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Apricot; this is the result of dyeing with chopped up avocado pits, plus skins; merino pre-mordanted with alum.  Again, boiled gently for half and hour or so, topping up with boiling water as needed, then left to cool and then soak in the solution for four more days.  I quite like this colour, and may do some more of it.

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Light sage green;  this is the result of dyeing with avocado skins with some avocado flesh left on them… same method as above.  This colour is alright, quite soft, a barely there grey/green.  Green seems to be another one of those elusive shades that is quite difficult to obtain from our local resources.  I may or may not overdye this one  a touch… just waiting and seeing for a bit …

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Yellow-y apricot; just a few coreopsis flowers, on merino pre-mordanted with alum. The coreopsis flowers are grown in a garden in Willagee, harvested and dried by the owner, and are available through Bilby Yarns.  To get this soft colour, you really do only need just a few flowers.  For my first experiments, I used lots.  Haha, the joke’s on me, because that first batch turned out brilliant, BRIGHT orange.  For this shade I kept a close eye on it; taking it out to check and rinsing a few times, dipping for just a bit longer until I reached this nice soft shade.

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Pale, rusty pink; this is bracken, on merino pre-mordanted in alum.  I gathered the bracken from my parents’ place.  Hehe, funny, story, I half-jokingly asked Mum… “would it be alright if I picked some bracken for a dyeing project?”  After a short incredulous pause Mum says, “Carolyn, pick as much as you like!!!”  To explain, Mum and Dad have a large property, with loads and LOADS of bracken, and Mum HATES it with a deep fiery passion.  It is a native plant so she lets it be for the most part; but when we first got the block it was overgrowing the paddock quite severely and Mum wanted to put in an orchard.  I have memories of my Dad driving all around the paddock with a log chained to the back of his land rover, dragging it across the bracken, trying to clear it away.  It’s such tenacious stuff, it grew back over and over and over again!  Year after year it kept popping up all over the place.  Mum eventually got enough cleared for her orchard… but it was a massive effort.

That frond in the picture above is dead and brown… obviously, since I’d just boiled the living daylights out of it for dyeing!!  I did pick and use quite a big bunch but forgot to keep just one little frond aside for a demonstrative picture with my wool… but if you can imagine, it is actually quite a strong, bright green in colour, so this beautiful, port-wine/pink shade it gave was a lovely surprise to me.

I love all those beautifully soft pastelly shades, and am so happy how they blend together so tonally and gently.  In the process of dyeing I did get a few other stronger shades, that while I like them very well in their own right I’m still undecided as to whether to use them for this particular project… as follows:

From left:

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Bright orange: from a large number of coreopsis flowers.  It’s lovely, but maybe not a good match with all my pastels…

Moss green; a result of one dip in indigo, plus a dip in the coreopsis bath.  I really love this colour, but again, quite strong and vivid …

and deep navy blue, from Nicki’s dye-pot.  I’m not sure how I managed to get such a deep shade from the pot!  I’m wondering if it got caught up in some indigo sludge at the bottom or something… but this is a very strong colour for a single dip in natural indigo!

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Mustard: I seriously adore this mustard, the result of one dip in coreopsis and then a further dip in avocado skin dye.  It does go so nicely with all the other colours! but is one of the “strong” ones, so I’m still um-ing and ah-ing over this one too…

So that’s it!  to summarise; I’m pretty excited about all the lovely colours you can get dyeing with local plants.  The only one that I would describe as difficult to obtain locally is the indigo, of course… if we did not know someone who had nurtured and cultivated a special dye-pot then blue would not have happened for me this time, so I am so glad and grateful that Nicki got one!  Blue is the hardest of colours to come by naturally.  The other plant sources; the coreopsis, avocado and bracken; are all plants that are grown right here in Western Australia for some reason or another.    Also, of course don’t forget sour grass! this is a rampant weed around these parts, and last year I picked some from my own garden and got this bright acidic yellow colour, as described here.  I’m currently carefully nurturing some more weeds precious sour grass, with a view to getting some more wool in this colour too…

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Look at this divine array of colours!!  I’ve got some colour decisions to make, designs to design  😉  in short, I’m getting pretty hyped to continue on with the next stage of my totally local outfit!

from top to bottom: coreopsis (light), chopped avocado pits, bracken, whole avocado pits, avocado skins, indigo (light), indigo (dark), indigo + coreopsis, coreopsis (dark), coreopsis + avocado skins, sour grass

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