Tag Archives: recycled clothing

Dyeing my Japanese crossover apron

While the sun was shining last weekend I started to prune my apple trees, the leaves were stripped off and put in my large catering pot to make some dye. According to my books they should yield a nice bright yellow green dye with an alum mordant.

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The pot simmered away, giving an apple / cabbage smell to the house which wasn’t  unpleasant. The liquid turned a golden yellow colour.
UntitledAfter straining out the leaves the mordanted apron went into the pot and was boiled for over an hour. It was rinsed and hung out to dry.
UntitledThe colour was a nice golden yellow, not green at all, sorry I forgot to get a photo.

The next day I dyed the other apron with a turquoise dye, then I gathered my printing leaves choosing ones I know print well, geranium and cotinus, rose and wild strawberry. I used an iron dip on the leaves and some vinegar on the fabric. The fabric was just damp, as I have been told this helps in achieving clear prints.

I thought the best way to position the leaves would be to turn the apron inside out, lift the flaps, place the leaves then fold over the flap, then repeat on the other side. I added some onion skins too.
UntitledThe apron was folded and folded again, bundled and tied ready for steaming in the fish kettle. (Sorry no photo)
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UntitledOnce my bundles were cold  they were untied and unrolled.
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UntitledThe leaves were picked off , the aprons were washed. Sadly the turquoise dye washed out as it doesn’t work on cellulose fibres, but I had forgotten that as I’m used to working with silk. I have to say I was slightly underwhelmed by the leaf prints, and I may have gone overboard on the onion skins. One of the things you have to accept with eco printing is the serendipitous nature of the process, but I like surprises. Cotton is supposed to be the hardest fabric to eco print on, but I have had some great results on cotton blankets used when dyeing silk scarves so I had hoped for better results, more well defined leaf prints.
Once ironed I think I like them more.
Eco printing on Japanese cross back apronThe apricot colour is stronger than it’s showing on my monitor, it is a pretty colour.

Eco printing on Japanese cross back apronI had planned to hang them on the apple trees to photograph them, but the weather is so bad I had to photograph them indoors.

Eco printing on Japanese cross back apronWhat constantly amazes me with eco printing are the variations, these two had the same fabric, mordant, leaves, onion skins, and steamed together and yet some onion skins have printed green on this apron but not on the other one.
Eco printing on Japanese cross back apronThere are some areas that I really like on both aprons, and I love the apricot colour from the apple leaf dye, I think the onion skins modified the colour slightly.
Eco printing on Japanese cross back apronMy daughter loves them and thinks they would make great tops for festival going.

I dyed a couple of pieces of fabric that could be used for pockets, I was undecided whether to add a front pocket but I think it would be very useful on an apron, don’t you ?

My Upcycled Ecoprinted Top

My friend came over for a few days, we usually do something crafty, this time I decided to make a top where I’d eco printed the fabric myself. This has been on my to do list for a while so it was good to finally get round to it. It took 3 days to complete, on the first day I dyed the fabric. I downloaded a free pattern for the York top from Seamwork  

Upcycled ecoprinted top
The fabric is recycled 100% cotton ( I’ll tell you more at the end of this post), I cut the fabric slightly larger than the pattern pieces so there would be plenty wiggle room after dyeing just in case something didn’t work out and needed to be avoided.
Upcycled ecoprinted topThe fabric was rolled on copper pipes, tied with yarn and boiled for 2 1/2 hours. I threw a couple of handfuls of onion skins into the pot thinking I would get a golden brown colour.

Upcycled ecoprinted topI have to say I was surprised at the colour, which wasn’t brown, but I wasn’t too sure the leaves had printed very well. I left the fabric to dry overnight.
On assessment the next day I realised I had some lovely delicate green leaves as well as some darker cotinus prints. What I liked most was the patterning from the onion skin dye which ranged from pale lemon yellow to ochre. It’s hard to tell from my pictures but the light background colour is lemon not white.
Upcycled ecoprinted topOn the outside of my bundles serendipity gave me a lovely graded colour effect, also the pink yarn I’d used to tie my bundles had transferred to the fabric, I hoped to use this effect as a border at the hemline front and back and also on one edge of the cuffs when cutting my pattern pieces so I took care to match up the front and back so the ‘border’ was the same depth . There’s a lovely pattern centre front as well.
Upcycled ecoprinted top

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Mirror image cuffs,look how the geranium leaf front and back prints differently.Untitled

And sleeves
Upcycled ecoprinted topI haven’t made clothes in years but I was taught well by my mother who had served an apprenticeship as a dressmaker and who sewed and taught dressmaking all her working life. It all came back to me very quickly, it was like she was sitting on my shoulder telling me what to do next.

I  made my own bias binding for the neck.

Upcycled ecoprinted topI had to wait a day for this nifty little tool to arrive but it makes things so much easier.

You slot your strip of fabric into the tool, pin the end to the ironing board and as you pull the tool along you iron the fabric.

Upcycled ecoprinted top

Upcycled ecoprinted top

The pattern had a tie fastener at the back neck  but I thought it would be too bulky. In the middle of the night I woke up knowing how my Mum would finish the neck, with a thread loop which is barely visible. I don’t know if I have ever done this before but I had watched Mum do it many times in the past.

Using double thread I made a couple of loops which the button would go through but not too loose.

Upcycled ecoprinted top

Then I buttonhole stitched over the loops of thread and finished off the ends securely on the back.Upcycled ecoprinted topPerfect!

Upcycled ecoprinted topHere’s my finished top, I think it turned out well 🙂

Upcycled ecoprinted topIt’s a little on the large side but the next one will be perfect.

Upcycled ecoprinted topI have to say this turned out far better than my expectations, the top wouldn’t  look out of place in a boutique in Positano. I am looking forward to making more eco printed clothes, maybe a skirt or another top.

I said I would tell you about the cotton fabric at the end of this post. I’ll let you into my secret, it’s made from a cotton sheet that I used to cover my craft fair table, shhh don’t tell anyone 🙂

I’m wearing it to go out to dinner with my friend next week. 😀