Saturday, 19 September 2015

Bye bye winter! The last of my winter sewing for the year.

As a last hurrah before things really heat up down under, I made a warm, winter outfit consisting of a jacket, jeans and long-sleeved top.

Oh, and meet Bubbles! He is a two year old toy poodle and we are looking after him for a month. This was my compromise to (temporarily) appease my nine year old, who wants a second dog. We don't even know the owners, they were strangers who advertised for a dog-sitter on the online classifieds. The things I agree to!

Anyway, back to the jacket. I found this remnant of fabric at Knitwit for $10 (usually $25.95/m). There was a metre, but it was unravelling a bit, hence the low price. It was described as 'an exclusive import from Italy...not a knit, not even a normal woven fabric but it has loads of Italian style; some would even say Missoni style.' I was sold. It is beautiful.

As recommended by Knitwit, I used dark interfacing to strengthen the delicate weave. This fabric is not machine washable, so we'll have to see how it goes. I have never been to a drycleaners, preferring to risk all in the washing machine!

I wanted a simple, boxy style to use up all the scrummy fabric and not have to worry about matching the pattern too much. I flicked through my Burdastyle magazines and chose jacket 122 from the February 2015 issue. 

Burdastyle 02/2015 #122

I had enough fabric for the back and fronts of the jacket, omitting the back vent and cutting the back on the fold. For the sleeves and collar I used some black wool remnants from Potters Textiles. The pattern is unlined, so I drafted a collar, front facing and lining to cover up that interfacing. The lining was silk dupion from the stash.

Pattern matching was impossible at the sides due to fabric restrictions, but I'm still very happy with this as a simple throw-on 'Missoni' jacket. 

I'm just trying to decide if it needs a front button closure.

The next part of the outfit is the jeans. No prizes for guessing that I made my favourite Jamie jeans by Named Clothing yet again!

This time I used a medium blue denim with minimal stretch from Spotlight. I topstitched with bronzey yellow topstitching thread.

There's not much more to say about these jeans as I've said it all before. I love them and have worn them lots already.

The last part of the outfit is this top. Another Presto! Popover Top by SavageCoco. I love this pattern. This one was made using another Knitwit remnant for the front and purple knit fabric from the stash for the back and sleeves.

The Knitwit remnant was a panel print and had two repeats. I placed the pattern in such a way that each front was cut from one panel repeat. The result was a replica of the whole panel right across the front with the centre front seamline being almost impossible to see. This is a bit difficult to describe, but if you've made this top you will get what I mean. Maybe!

I like the effect this gives with the print extending up the neckline. The other benefit was that the fabric was a bit sheer, so this pattern, with its double layer front, was perfect.

The clingy purple knit gives a great fit at the back.

So there we are, a top, jeans and a jacket. OK, bye winter!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Japanese natural dyeing workshop with Kitta from Okinawa

Naturally dyed fabrics in Trudi Pollard's studio

At the end of August, the Perth 'One Year One Outfit' crew and a few other interested dye-hards (!) travelled to the studio of textile artist Trudi Pollard in the Perth hills. We were there for a unique and rare workshop, 'The Colour of Wonder' with Kitta (Yuko Sawano), a Japanese natural dye artist, her husband and some colleagues. We had the whole day for the workshop. It was a gorgeous, sunny, late winter's day and Trudi's studio was rustic, comfortable and filled with things of beauty.

You may remember that 'One Year One Outfit' is a worldwide challenge to make an entire outfit by hand from locally sourced materials. I've already done some felting and knitting with Western Australian wool and was keen to learn more about dyeing with plants. The challenge has been incredibly inspirational and creative. I've made new friends, learned unusual techniques and become increasingly aware of sustainable fashion and our local environment.

This workshop was another fascinating component in our quest for the creation of a beautiful and sustainable outfit. We hoped to gain knowledge of dyeing to apply to our locally sourced textiles.

Following a welcome, cups of tea and homemade goodies, we chose a two metre piece of Japanese linen to use for our dyeing. The linen had been prepared beforehand and was either washed and pre-wetted in water for the blue indigo dye or soaked in soybean juice and dried for red madder dyeing. We had to choose which dye we wanted to try and select our linen accordingly. I chose some wet linen for indigo dyeing.

The Indian madder root was already boiling in water over a fire. We went outside to strain it through cloth, add more water and put it back to boil for a while longer.

Strained madder root, which can be reused

That's Kitta in the centre (below), wearing her gorgeous, naturally dyed clothes, and her husband on the left. Nicki (right) came up with the whole 'One Year One Outfit' idea and organised this workshop. Yay Nicki!

If I remember correctly, Kitta and her family, being passionate about the environment and interested in Japanese history, purchased an indigo factory in Okinawa, Japan. They revived the traditional techniques of growing the Ryukyu Indigo plants, harvesting them by hand with simple tools and extracting the dye from the leaves using vats dug into the ground. We were shown a video of the process while Kitta's husband played soporific and beautiful guitar music.

Kitta had brought some of her Indigo dye with her and it was growing and fermenting in a large tub in the studio. I'm not quite sure how she got it past the strict Australian customs! The bacteria must be carefully tended and kept alive throughout the dyeing process and beyond so the dye can be used over and over again. The temperature and pH must be checked and adjusted daily and only a certain amount of fabric can be dyed on any one day so as not to 'exhaust' the bacteria. That was why only half of us could use the indigo dye. This aspect of the process was fascinating to me and reminded me of growing bacteria and parasites during my scientist days! Biology and dyeing fabrics, what could be better!?

One by one we dipped our linen into the warm indigo tub, massaging the liquid into the cloth. We had to keep the linen below the surface and try not to introduce bubbles of air. After a few minutes, we brought the fabric out and waved it in the air to oxidise the dye, which quickly changed from greenish to blue. That's Trudi below right.

Some people got right into the experience and used their bare hands. I used gloves to preserve my natural skin colour!

Trudi had some Australian native indigo, Indigofera Australis, growing in her garden, amongst other natural dye plants. Apparently the crushed leaves of this species were used by aborigines to stun fish and eels in water.

Native Australian indigo
Eucalyptus coreopsis (below) is another sought-after plant to create reddish dye.

We left our linen to dry and later gave it another dip in the indigo to deepen the colour.

After a full morning of dyeing we were ready for lunch. The Japanese bento boxes had been prepared by Kitta's friend and were delicious.

After lunch we watched another video about the beautiful clothes Kitta creates from her naturally dyed fabrics. It was a whirl of delicious colour and more gentle guitar music. Sue had a nana-nap and I was struggling to stay awake myself!

Fortified by lunch and sleep, we again ventured into the garden for the madder root dyeing. The madder plant produces the deepest red of any natural dye. It can also be used medicinally for blood flow and menstrual problems. Our strained madder root was boiling away nicely.

Those with the soybean-treated linen took turns stirring their fabric in the madder dye for ten minutes. Bubble, bubble toil and trouble...

Oops, I think Carolyn just splashed hot madder over Sue's shoes!

The linen was then removed from the madder pot and placed in an alum mordant solution for 20 minutes to set the dye. It could then be dyed again and rinsed in water.

I was able to do some madder dyeing myself using some Cambodian silk purchased from Trudi.

My madder turned out vibrant orange and my indigo a deep, gentle blue.

We had a magical day learning ancient and fascinating techniques. This experience has certainly whetted my appetite for natural dyeing and I can't wait to experiment more. It's very special to harvest parts of plants and produce beautiful colours.

Here are some pictures from around Trudi's studio:

A mosaic wall featuring little ceramic ducks and chickens.

The outdoor area.

Beautiful knitted cushions.

An impressive array of solar plant dyes.

And some of Trudi's lovely work.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Named Esme Maxi Cardigan from the 'New Black' Collection


This scrummy-soft and super cosy cardi is the Esme Maxi Cardigan from Named Clothing's new pattern collection 'New Black'.

I was lucky enough to test two patterns from this collection, the Olivia Jersey Wrap Dress was the other pattern. I'm wearing the Olivia dress under the Esme cardigan in these pictures and it is blogged here.

Named Esme Maxi Cardigan
This is a stylishly slouchy cardigan with front pockets set down into a horizontal hip-height seam. The pockets are very similar to those in the Vogue 1247 skirt, except that they drape open a bit when not in use, ready for cold hands or chocolates. I chose to highlight them with a black pocket interior. 

My main fabric was from Knitwit. I spent ages deciding on which one to buy as there were so many lovely wool fabrics in there. In the end I chose this loopy boucle knit, which is a wool blend and machine washable. It is lovely to wear and was easy to work with. It was also a good weight for this project, not too thick for sewing the neckline and button band.

However, at $22.95/m it felt like a bit of a splurge to buy the 2.6m recommended for my size. I got out my pattern and consulted with the lady in the shop. We could see on the pattern layout diagram that there was some surplus fabric in the layout. The Knitwit lady said that the button stand could be placed across, rather than along, the grainline (depending on print direction) which would save fabric and allow this to be cut from 2m. I bought 2m, which turned out to be enough fabric. Phew! In the end I cut the button stand on grain in two pieces due to the direction of the weave. The looped fabric hides the join completely.

I love the oversized feel of this cardi. I made my usual size 40. There is plenty of scope to size down for a closer fit if someone wanted to do so.

Back to back!
Here is the cardigan buttoned up. I'm not sure why, but there seems to be some excess fabric on either side of the lower part of the button band causing it to fall in folds. I mentioned this in my feedback so it may have been fixed in the final version of the pattern. However, it could also have been my fault if the fronts stretched during construction compared to the interfaced button band. Something to keep in mind.

The only other thing I noted during construction was that the sleeves were too short for me. This was easily fixed as I just kept the cuffs turned down instead of folded back as intended. This may also have changed in the final version of the pattern.

Despite those minor issues, I am really pleased with this cardi. It is so lovely to wear. I wore it recently for a trip to the theatre and I felt like I was snuggled in a blanket for the whole performance! I think it looks good dressed up, as in these pictures, as well as flung over some skinny jeans for a more casual look. It's a winner!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...