Bespoke Garments

16 Sep

Alder tree cone dye

Alder cones stored in dry box

Alder cones fall off the trees in strong winds and are found in the grass below all year.  Newer cones side by side on twigs are green and hard.  Store the brown cones in dry boxes and they last a long time.

Alder cones fall on grass
Alder cones on tree

To make dye bath soak cones, twigs and leaves together in a mixing bowl or pan.  The water will go dark brown.  Boil up then simmer for one or two hours.  Keep checking water level.

Adde silk to dye bath, but only when temperature had lowered to hand hot, or silk will roughen.  Never boil silk.  Stir frequently for even dye coverage and leave overnight to finish absorption.  In most cases, colour deepens the longer silk is left.

A secondary paler colour can be achieved in a new silk sample if added to dye bath for 24hours.  I would enhance the absorption ability by pre-mordanting in powdered allum.

Alder cones removed from dye bath after boiling
Silk after removal from dye bath of alder cones, leaves and twigs.
Silk dyed result after soaking in alder dye bath

So many natural dyestuffs produce a range of creams and beige, fawn and gold tones; all very different.  All neutral tones provide an excellent background for silk painting. The Ahimsa peace silk or Habotai silk takes up any natural dye nicely.

This piece will be used in a fashion garment and link posted here in future.

15 Sep

Walnut Husks Dyed Silk

Walnut husks soaking before boiling for dye bath process

Walnut Dye Bath Process

  • Soak walnut husks with walnuts in, including broken husk pieces, in water for two days.
  • Boil and simmer for 30 mins and leave soaking for another two days.
  • Boil again to reheat and leave to cool to reach hand hot only for silk soaking.
  • Remove husks and decant liquid to bowl.
  • Add wet silk pieces
  • Agitate frequently then soak overnight.
  • Colour is already achieved if not soaked longer.

Silk takes up the brown dye bath quickly but keep turning and agitating occasionally while soaking.  (Don't boil Ahimsa silk as it would roughen surface) Soaking is adequate for obtaining a reasonable colour.

Dye bath is quite dark after walnut husks soaked in water, so could be used without boiling.  Longer soaking might even produce an even darker dye bath. There is a lot of pigment left in the dye bath and dye can be stored in jars. Fill to brim to avoid mould forming. it could also be used to add to other cream or gold dye pots to strengthen or darker tone. (not experimented yet)

Silk in dye bath dish
Silk hung out to dry
Silk dyed samples: Left Walnut Light, Centre Walnut Dark, with Right Comfrey dyed silk for comparison.
Walnut dyed silk + gold dyes: Left to Right: Logwood bark - Walnut dark - Walnut light - Comfrey leaves - Hawthorne berries - St. Johns Wort flowers

[Note: Post restructuring in process: Images to be resized]

22 Aug

Clothes Treasure Paradigm

Dress 'Guinevere' - hint of medieval style.

A new fashion PARADIGM being experienced by designers, businesses and consumers is one by which clothes are treasured and valued for a variety of reasons other than a traditional economical 'brand' and the buy-today, throw-away-tomorrow fashion business model.

The slow fashion CONSUMER enjoys clothes with individual stories which use upcycled fabrics.

Cockington Court

Vintage fashion fairs are enjoying a wave of popularity as consumers look for more original garments which offer a higher emotional value than the current season’s clothes.

These days there is a proliferation of cast away clothes, a wasteful situation caused by fast fashion trends and cheapness of garments. Charity shops are brimming with last season’s clothes. Textile recycling and disposing companies are selling old clothes to Africa, impacting indigenous economies by reducing artisan production.

The constant waste of materials, with their associated production costs, is both an environmental and health dilemma. If you value the raw materials, textiles of ecological origins, you may value your garment more highly, and wear it for many years with a focus more on your clothes being timeless.

21 Aug

Logwood Dyed Silk

Two Logwood dye sessions gave very different results, but the second session produced a pleasing background 

Session ONE - deep violet result.

Shibori stitch resist technique was used but most of the white lines were dyed, and needed a bleaching out with fabric bleach.  A good experiment but no end product.  The small unburnt sections were saved to use as patches.
1st soak in logwood dye
Washed out shows shibori
Shibori stitching pulled tight before dyeing to leave areas white
After surface iron bleaching
Gutta applied to contain colour
Dye colour added to shapes
Burnt result after steamer ran dry!

Session TWO was used to soak a batik worked silk in the previous dye, much depleted, although enough dye for a dull lilac resulted.  The piece became the background to dress Butterflies and Pansies.

'Butterflies and Pansies

[Note:  Add logwood dye process images this page, from dress post.  Oct. 2020 Site images updating:]

21 Aug

Mullein Dyed Silk

My Grand Mullein 6ft. tall

Magic of Mullein

Mullein plants have been used for centuries both as medicinal and as a wick for natural torches. 

The leaves here give a good light gold on Ahimsa silk after steeping in dye bath from several leaves.  Stem of plant not yet trialed. 

Plants seed themselves in the fruit and vegetable allotment: thousands of seeds but just a few plants, biannual.

Click on any photo to view enlarged Photos Gallery

Mullien leaves soaking boiled
Dye bath after removing leaves
Silk soaking in mullien dye bath
Silk absorbed mullein dye
  • Fully cover dyestuff leaves with pond water, and stand to soak for 24-48 hours.
  • Boil up in 2 or 3 inches of rainwater for 10 mins then simmered for at least an hour until the colour reaches full strength. Dip piece of soft white tissue in to test strength from time to time. it may be necessary to add water if simmering a long time.
  • Remove dyestuff leaves.  Allow dye bath to cool until barely hand hot to be gentle for the silk.
  • Immerse silk and agitate for 5 minutes then leave to soak, stirring every 20 mins or so. Some dyes absorb immediately; some need longer overnight soaking.
  • Absorption of colour depends on whether the silk has been pre-mordanted in alum crystals; which is not always necessary.
  • Silk piece is washed out gently in warm water until water runs clear. Hang out to dry without squeezing too much.
  • Steam iron when almost dry to remove creases.

[This silk will be incorporated into a Shamanic Nights garment and linked to here in due course]

14 Aug

St. Johns Wort Plant Collecting and Dye Bath

St. Johns Wort yellow flowers in bank side.

St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum) yellow star shaped flowers, are found along grass verges. These photos are from the Tarka Cycle Trail old rail track - Barnstaple to Bideford; my 10 mile route for foraging, using Jenny Dean's plant spotter book. 

St. Johns Wort yellow star flowers collected

Click on photos to see enlarged views as Gallery


Dye Bath  - 1st Soak

  • Soak flower tops overnight in rain water. I use pond water.
  • Boil up and simmer for an hour
  • Cool liquid until hand hot, not to roughen silk, soak silk, stirring occasionally.
  • Leave overnight to absorb dye colour
Gold result from St. Johns Wort dye.
1st soaked silk contrasted with pale woad dyed silk and darker

Dye Bath  - 2nd Soak

  • Second silk piece added on top through the night.
  • 2nd day: Remove first stronger dyed silk piece and rinse out, not squeezed too much and leave to dry.
  • Drain seeds and flowers and heat remaining paler dye bath. Add second piece again for half a day.
  • Rinse out when water completely clear. Colour was blotchy, so I cut it in half.
Three varieties with St. John's Wort dye bath.
L-R (a) first strongly dyed silk (b) Second paler dyed silk
(c) Third dyed silk with iron modifier

Dye Bath  - Session Two - Iron

Iron Modifer: Olive Green-Khaki Results

I heated dye bath again, allowed to cool, before adding tablespoon of ferrous sulphate for third final piece of silk. (for khaki colour) Silk must not be exposed too long to iron mix as can weaken it. Colour change is immediate so 5 mins sufficient; less to just dull colour.  Rinse out with a little soap.

  • Silk dyed with no mordant = GOLD.
  • Silk modified after dyeing with iron = KHAKI
  • All cream and gold dyed silks with any plant dyes will turn  duller, khaki, or grey after a dip in iron.

Notebook:  I bought the iron (ferrous sulphate) specially, but you can make your own. I generally experiment with adding water from a jar of rusty nails and screws; about half a tea cup to turn grey or khaki. Top up jar as rusty liquid is used. Even a spoonful dulls a colour adequately.

[Note: Site under restructuring: additional dye images to add]

See more and others' dye procedures on my Natural Plant Dye Pinterest Board.

09 Aug

Robes Summer Coats Originals 2009-10

Original range of linen and cotton patchwork robes

Lilac Lotus
Lilac Lotus
Linen Cruise
Jade Garden
South Sea Bubble
Lilac Lotus

Linen Cruise Robe  (sold)

Early inspiration followed acquiring a lot of parchment white linen. Teamed with white/navy prints and cream/white based patchwork prints.

Black cotton with pale grey embroidery was chosen for contrasting  collar/under-collar front facing, sleeve borders and sash.

This garment was chosen to feature with three others of mine at the 2013 Exhibition: Innovation in Textiles. See post Exhibition Totnes Costume Museum

Linen Cruise sash tied
Linen Cruise front open
Linen Cruise modelled in Totnes Museum of Costume Exhibition
Left Silk Painted panel copied from one of the patchwork prints

Oriental Cruise  Robe  (sold)

One of the earliest robes in large long patches of Cream and White Linen, Cotton and Viscose Prints of navy/white theme with added silk painted panels.

Oriental Cruise

Sleeve upper silk patch is hand painted silk, an enlarged design copy of a smaller print used in other patches.


Oriental Cruise back pleat
Oriental Cruise front sash belt
Oriental Cruise lower patched border

Lilac Lotus Robe

A feminine gown inspired by the parchment white linen and white embroidery anglais with added lilac silk, black & lilac polyester leopard print, taupe poly-cotton with pink and jade machine embroidery.  
Construction: Variety of oblong patches with back pleat for ease.
Lining:  Fully lined in white brushed cotton, extremely warm - suitable cool bedrooms.
Buttons: Two pale gold and white metal 'compass' design Liberty of London shop buttons.
Pocket: Right hand pocket in seam.
Collar, cuffs, Sash belt:  Thick white cotton embroidery with decorative 'embroidery Anglais'.
Back length:   46 inches/117cm
Bust size: 32" 36" for UK 10-12
Available at Shamanic Nights on ETSY.
Bella model
Judith Christie singer songwriter at Pilton Green Man Festival
Lilac Lotus sleeve patch details
Lilac lotus front patch details
Lilac Lotus patchwork full length
Lilac Lotus back view with pleat

Purple Raj Robe (sold)

Patchwork robe: cotton and viscose

Purple Raj patchwork robe closed front

Patchwork Construction:

Back of robe starts with an experimental chevron layout: turning standard patchwork construction blocks 90 deg. which give a diagonal grain, like a bias cut, which improves the 'hang'.  Arranged patchwork continues over shoulders, where patchwork blocks extend down front on the strait grain.  Sides had odd angles to join, resulting in a deep kimono styled sleeve.

Purple Raj robe, back diagonal patchwork

Jade Garden Robe

A substantial everlasting garment in heavy furnishing cottons with deep rolled collar, which would stand up for warmth.  Suitable as winter gift where warmth and style is a priority, so also suitable as summer coat.  Construction is three rows of oblong patches.  Belt has now changed to sash-belt in printed white/lilac printed cotton seen in other patches. Green fabric is embroidered taffeta, and must not be ironed hot or it melts.  Buttons are pewter.  Lining brown cotton lawn lower, with cream satin upper part including turned back sleeves.  Note: Coral is short, so this is a three quarter length robe for taller women.

Jade Garden robe available on Shamanic Nights shop ETSY

Coral modelling Jade Garden summer coat
Jade Garden Robe front buttons and collar
Jade Garden Back view
Jade Garden front view
Print: trees
Print: French farm maiden

South Sea Bubble Mini poncho style robe

Modelled by Coral and made when living in Cornwall, this patchwork was inspired by the viscose 'Bali' style print in blue, navy, lilac, olive.  Corordinate cottons and linens match these colours.  Construction is long rectangular patchworks, arranged diagonally starting across back ( see Purple Raj back ).  Very loose shape allows fit for fuller bust sizes due to waist deep kimono-style sleeve shapes, formed by the diagonal back patches.  Main lining: Pretty violet soft cotton with lilac flowers. Sleeve lining: Pretty lilac soft cotton flower print.   Buttons: 2 large black-mauve pearl.  Front fringed edge is purely decorative.

I would like to add a print or applique over the pale yellow which is rather pale in contrast to the black/purple.  Once on the lookout, something will turn up to match.

Coral relaxes in the sea air in South Sea bubble
South Sea Bubble front view with fringed front buttoning
South Sea Bubble mini robe violet cotton lining
South Sea Bubble back and sleeve
South Sea bubble back view shows diagonal 'chevron' patch blocks
South Sea bubble shoulder close up viscose print

South Sea bubble  is very loose fit at top due to poncho shape with only slightly formed sleeves. Size 16 on the hips. length 36 inches (910mm).  Front is joined by button so garment flows freely.  Available from Shamanic Nights ETSY shop

03 Jun

Tropical Parrots Shirt Dress

Amelia Hoskins / Dress, Jacket / / 0 Comments
Tropical Parrots front view buttoned with black and scarlet floral print viscose lining

Olive/black tropical leaves with bright parrots, and cream based passion flower with butterflies.

Two viscose summer dresses were used in the making, fabrics being chosen for 'tropical' theme and colour balance.  Over all, viscose outside and inside gives a well hanging garment.  Collar was taken form a shirt-blouse, with rounded lapels added in pink tropical floral cotton. Additional salmon pink cotton patches at back.


SIZE:  Extra Large loose size XXX up to 44" chest. (modelled dummy bust 38, so 40" is optimum fit) 

ETSY SHOP available soon when added

[Site under reconstruction 2020 -  reduced imagery until site moved to new format]

23 May

Exhibition – Totnes Costume Museum

Amelia Hoskins / Dressing Gown, Robe / / 0 Comments

Shamanic Nights was invited to exhibit at Totnes Costume Museum – Innovation and Fashion

Curated theme‭ 23rd May‭-‭ 14th June‭ ‬2011

Hilary Burns Exhibition Curator was an ex colleague I remembered from my textiles degree course, now a basket weaver; also moved to Devon.   She didn’t remember me clearly (her in weave, me in print depts), but it was uncanny how she picked up on my work at a craft fair, after 4 decades, and chose me.  A cycle of creative times.

Silk painted panels are lower right on cruise robes and left arm sleeve top. Designs copied from prints on robe, but enlarged scale.

Patchwork robes can be bespoke made to your measurements with your own fabrics.
Making fee: Short to knee – £140, Long – £175.00
Extra materials cost would be lining, as I do not stock new, although I have some thin white cotton in stock.

Totnes High Street.

Robes ‘Oriental Cruise’  (left) and ‘Mandarin’  (right) SOLD.

Read more

23 May

Coat Dresses

Amelia Hoskins / Coat Dress / / 0 Comments

 Coat Dress ‘DOVE’   (Sold)


Model in Grey Coat Dress - Ethical fashion
Coat Dress DOVE.


Modelled at Exeter Castle, Christmas craft fair.

To be worn over leggings and T-shirt or tight jumper. Patches of grey wool, linen, cotton, lined. Made from 3 different dress patterns. Cowl collar created by skooping dress front neck and attaching double folded 8″ cotton Ikat weave to front, and grey linen double folded at back neck.

Model is Size 14 hips, so dress would fit a Size 10-12 using side ties to tighten at waist. B

DOVE coat dress


Jerkin Dress  ‘D’ARTAGNAN’  (Available)

To be worn over leggings and T-shirt or tight jumper.
MODEL in brown Jerkin dress top Ethical FashionJerkin Dress is 36 inch bust.  Waist is 32 inches.

(Model is size 14.)

Modelled at Exeter Castle, Christmas craft fair.

Large taffeta embroidered collar.

Taffeta repeats in belt detail.

Skirt part is wool, cotton/viscose lower tartan ‘Per-Una’ patch.

Jerkin upper lined in heavy brown satin skirt fabric.  Lower skirt lined from other skirt already with brown organdie frill attached.

brown jerkin dress collar - Ethical fashion

Large, sumptuous embroidered taffeta collar; with top button closed.

Opens out to hang loose and wide (see tree photo below)

brown jerkin dress, log splayed blog width

Voile frill added to patchwork skirt section of wool & corduroy.

brown jerkin dress skirt bottom and belt GOOD SUN 700

Belt detail from embroidered taffeta

brown jerkin dress tree - Ethical Fashion

Tree pic shows huge collar and accurate colours.

Front length from back neck to front hem is 35 inches

MODEL in Brown Jerkin Dress, back - Ethical fashion

Back view modelled on a size 14.  Waist actual size is 32 inches

Back neck to back hem is 39 inches.

Shamanic Nights background image