Saving pits from fresh avocados; wash them and store. They dry out but keep their dye property. I used them whole, but they might yield more dye if chopped.
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Avocado Pits Dye Procedure
Soak pits for some days in boiled water to soften (mine were years old).
Boil up pits for an hour and simmer for another hour or two, until colour is seen in water.
Turn off and cool to hand hot, to insert silk (too hot will roughen some silk surfaces). Note: I have simmered Habotai silk, but Ahimsa (which is thicker) is ruined by boiling.
Agitate frequently for even dyeing. When colour no longer strengthens, remove silk and rinse out.
Any remaining dye bath colour can be stored in jars. Pits can be stored again. I have not tried a second dye bath yet.
Habotai Silk Results from Avocado Pits
Final colour after gentle simmering and soaking for 2-3 hours is a charming subtle light, dusky champagne-peach with a lovely sheen; a colour which can easily coordinate with most other colours in patchwork garments. A good base for silk painting in stronger colours of pinks, reds and blues over painting. The image with geranium flowers gives an idea of how salmon pink would look applied over in a painting. The blue hydrangea shows how well a blue design would coordinate.
Silk can be pre-mordanted by soaking in water with alum in a bowl overnight; although not necessary with Eucalyptus, due to its strength which I didn't know at the time. (Alum is bought in powder form) Soya milk can also be used as a pre-mordant.
Break up bark and leave to soak for a day or overnight, even several days may release more colour. I added 3 leaves to ensure a colour result (as dye instruction books use leaves for strong result).
Heat to boil, then simmered for 1hr-1hr 30mins until a depth of colour absorbed. (Its always a good idea to leave dye stuff to soak over night and reboil dye liquid again the next day if colour is not very strong, before adding fabric again).
Remove bark from pan and leave liquid to cool to just hand hot, before adding silk. (Silk can go rough if exposed to boiling temperature).
It wasn’t necessary to-heat the dye bath again to obtain more colour, as the silk took up the dye well immediately, and quickly grew darker. After about an hour of soaking, frequently moving around, I removed silk, heated the dye bath again for about 10 mins and again left it to cool before soaking silk again.
The Habotai silk I used, absorbs bark dye very well, and quickly. (Ahimsa silk test yet to be done).
Trialed lace fabric (content unknown; likely cotton/polyester mix) which appeared to rapidly take up the dye, although it was not pre-mordanted, as the silk was.
The cotton lace sample dyed very well in the secondary dye bath where iron water was added.
The dye is strong enough to use for secondary soaks. A lace piece soaking.
Comparison with original gold dyed and secondary soak with iron modifier (rusty nail water)
[Gold silk was used for the painting used with Kimono Dress Tasmanian Blues]
Cut up Tansy flower tops and soak overnight in water (pond or river water if available).
Boil up in stainless steel pa; simmer for an hour or more until water is well coloured; then leave to cool to hand hot only. (Cotton can be simmered, but silk may get matted and rough if boiled).
Agitate silk in dye bath occasionally, redistributing evenly in liquid during first 15 -30 mins to ensure all areas are covered when first absorbing dye. After first absorption, remove to a china or glass bowl, to agitate easily. Use an upside down lid to keep silk beneath surface.
Soak silk for some hours in cooled dye bath liquid. The colour of the dye bath water is no indication of the final outcome on dry silk. Remove soon if you want a pale colour; leave overnight for stronger colour.
[Note: Post restructuring: additional dye process images being resized]
Comfrey dye bath makes an ecru cream-beige, which becomes duller and darker after dipping in iron modifier, after dyeing.
This sample experimented with shibori stitching prior to dyeing which resulted in several vey pale wavy lines of resist made by where the stitching gathered the cloth to prevent dye entering.
Result after dyeing shows Shibori stitch-resist as pale wavy lines.(Stitches are removed after full dye process.) The idea to make ‘waves’ by stitching in ‘curves’ worked, but contrasts poorly on pale colours. Large pegged sample shows dye-bath original tone at bottom right, and darker result top left, after adding iron modified. (black marks are the iron water splashed as I poured in iron solution, so take care with fabric proximity)
Preparing dye-bath with comfrey leaves
Cut up comfrey leaves and soak overnight. Also soak silk in alum mordant overnight or for some hours beforehand. Silk often dyes well without mordant when using some plants. Lighter colour at left, darker tone after longer soaking. Best to leave soaking over night to ensure good dye absorption. New pieces can be dyed in dyebath afterwards, and will be paler, but always a good starter colour for painting, or re-dyeing over.
Boil up and simmer for an hour. When just hand hot, drain comfrey out and put dye liquid in a bowl to soak the silk. (I never boil this ahimsa silk as it becomes matted in high temperatures) Agitate to distribute dye equally for first 15 mins, then leave to soak all day, redistributing in dye occasionally to ensure even dyeing.
Dyed and washed out, the ahimsa silk has an ecru beige colouring where first dyed (top left) – with additional dulled, more grey colour where half of cloth was soaked into iron modified dye bath. Out of the sunlight, the iron modified sample is quite dull and darker, to be used as one would a grey.
Sample (gallery top right) compares comfrey colour dye result with Ladies’ Bedstraw, peach. Samples (gallery bottom right) show iron modified comfrey sample in centre; between (left) Hawthorne dyed silk (left) and natural, ecru result of non-modified comfrey dyed silk in second dye bath. (right).
Note: A second dye-bath was made by reboiling liquid and leaves leaving overnight to stand. Heated next day, added fresh un-mordanted silk. Left to soak for a day and overnight 24hrs. This produced a pale but warm ecru silk.
Below: Comfrey dyed silk in centre – dull tone is result of iron modifier. Silks look duller indoors whereas they come to life in sunlight. The range of colours obtainable is fascinating.
Conclusion: Comfrey gives a very good neutral tone suitable for use with any silk painting over. Longer steep in iron (ferrous sulphate) would make it greyer, as needed. Experiment with quantities of iron added. I use either water from a rusty-nails-jar as well as purchased powder.
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Tarka Trail - Hawthorne Dye Bath Preparation 1
Using berries from Tarka Trail foraging trip along River Taw - found by ditch and field - growing through hazelnut, with briars and nettles.
Soak berries for 2-3 days.
Boil and simmer for 2 hours, adding water.
Mash berries, remove pulp.
Soak silk in dye bath pot overnight or for two days.
The longer soaked, the darker and stronger the colour.
River Otter - Hawthorne Dye Bath Prep 2.
Using berries from River Otter banks
Hawthorne berries soaked 2 days, boiled, mashed and drained to leave brown liquid. Two silk samples added to dye liquid when cooled to hand hot (to avoid roughening of silks) - soaked in a wide copper pot for a day and overnight. Wash out in gentle hand wash liquid. One sample was cream, and one was a weak dull pale grey woad dyed piece, included to change to a stronger colour. This gave a browny-khaki result.
Variations in dyebath results, where both sessions used pond rain water.
Secondary session: Two silk samples were stained with blue marks from being placed together in copper dye bath where residue from one being woad dyed may have affected the other. Or the copper pot may have affected them; or combination of folds/woad residue/copper.
I may have left the berries soaking longer, or the different river bases produce a different colour.
River Exe - Hawthorn Berry Dye Bath
Session 3 - ONE
Update: 3rd session using River Exe berries gave different light mauve result but was fugitive after washing out in tap water. pH needs correction to lower number by modifying towards acid. (not done) (see top image).
Session 3 - TWO
Used remaining dye bath from Session 2 with additional apple peels added to pot and reboiled. Subsequent dye baths from a set of berries, becomes more golden, as the red element is absorbed by the silk in the first dye bath. The dye bath used twice before, still produced a light peach. The two silk top pieces were placed in dye bath a few minutes before the larger piece and absorbed more of the dye at that point. NOTE: some dyes will be absorbed and fixed immediately. Subsequently the longer piece is a lighter tone.
Results: River Exe Hawthorn Berry Dye Baths
SESSION ONE: The green has remained, the mauve has turned more beige, the silver has remained. (indoor cool photography)
SESSION TWO: The two beiges lost their original dyed peachy-lilac appearance (see above), but are still good as dulled pale beige with hint of peach, as a background to colourful silk painting over.
I have a combination collection of print fabrics which the lastly hawthorn-apple dyed silk will become a component with - in a new garment; (which will be linked here in due course.)
Centre silk is hawthorn berry dyed and matches perfectly with colours in the dress print (left). Taken out of sunshine, silk looks beige, but is warmer tone. Prints are brighter, and the matching will work perfectly for a silk painting base.
Lady's Bedstraw is foundin waste ground or unused areas and near the coast. This particularly large and well established plant rambled on the River Torridge embankment above the Bideford marshes along the Tarka Trail cycle path (N. Devon). The reddish roots are used for dyeing: family is Madder (Rubiaceae) a well known red dye. Not easy to pull out the roots, and most were left for next year's growth. It was immediately apparent why it is called 'bedstraw' as plant sprigs were 'springy' in the hand, making it ideal for mattresses. Bedstraw has many herbal uses too.
Roots taken from plant ground need soaking for several days to soften, before boiling up. (I soaked mine at least a week).
Roots of plant produces a red dye, the longer soaked the deeper red. The red dye appears while soaking, and would probably dye without even boiling up. Photos show the dye was absorbed onto the pan sides, which I believe lost dye pigment strength available; so pans must preferably be steel. Copper pot might also assist with tan tone.
Some dyes will work without soaking cloth in a premordant. I usually do two tests. The second piece was not mordanted, and is some shades lighter on drying, but probably only because the first piece absorbed most of the pigment.
Steam press silk before bone dry to reduce creases. (don't squeeze out too tightly). The patchy areas do not show in the final dried sample.
Name ‘Tasmanian Blues’ is derived from Tasmanian origin of the eucalyptus bark (found in Hillier Gardens, Hampshire), used to create a dyebath. Silk collar and patches on garment are hand dyed (Habotai Silk 10) which took the dye bath so well – just soaking for an hour. Bark was previously steeped 24hrs then boiled, simmered for 2 hours, before removing from heat and adding silk.
A very deep gold was produced with the eucalyptus bark dye, which shines incredibly richly in sunshine. Lace pieces were left in the dyebath overnight and even though mixed fibres, took on a gold tone. Seed design applique motifs uses the lace dyed with eucalyptus bark.
Gold dyed Habotai silk was painted on with Kniazef steam fixed dyes. The gold dye was so strong, that painted dye colours were hard to see, and needed redoing. Even specialised bleach for silk dyes did not work, so well is the eucalyptus dye fixed!
Original dyestuff is bright gold in sunlight, but darker indoors. The darker gold piece is modified afterwords with iron sulphate (rusty nail liquid). Bottom right shows lace pieces dyed in cold dyebath overnight.
Story of patchwork blues.
I chose the blues to go with the gold silk, because 3 of the prints have gold areas with blues. Blue and gold are a classic mix, setting off one against the other.
Front buttoning strip features Chinese style print of Phoenix bird (right side) and tail of dragon (left side) which looks attractive as a focal point.
Two fabric prints have animalistic feel: the leopard or cheetah in blue/grey/black, and the navy blue/white ‘pheasant’ feather print. The blue lace was the right colour to add in. The light blue with text also has navy and some brown which blends in. By putting a variety of fabrics together, a new design idea comes alive. Phoenix and seeds could be a new theme.
Applique seed motifs
Using the eucalyptus dyed lace, emulated the texture of dried seed pods. Centre seed capsule part (in shadow from photo/drawing) is shown in dark gold dyed silk remnant on right-side garment, and left-side garment shows a lighter silk, bundle dyed from various seeds and dried flowers.
Making steps: ‘Tasmanian Blues’
[Images Temporarily unavailable Aug 2020 – being resized]
Garment started by using a polyester dress as LINING. I kept the cross-over ‘V’ neckline and fitted my fabrics to it. NOTE: its useful to have neckline and shoulders of a lining garment to start off with. Once patchwork is attached to that, patchwork can simply continue down to hem. Its very useful to use a bodice top from another garment as lining to fit sleeves to. I often make an under bust, high waistline seam below the length of an upper patched piece, darting under bust; also optionally at back for better fit.
The lining dress only has short sleeves, so I used other polyester fabrics to lengthen them in patchwork. Outside sleeve fabrics are viscose floral print and others, seen in making photos. Last four photos show cuff addition to lengthen sleeve and give print interest. black fused interfacing ironed on.
Fold extension over to show other fabric as an edge border contrast. Fold down outer onto lining.
Pin cuff extension to outer sleeve patches. Machine or hand stitch down
To give a fuller underarm, similar to kimonos; after inserting sleeves, I left underarm and side seams open, and cut strips for underarm gusset, using viscose fabric outer and navy lace inner: an elongated triangle about 4 inches to a point from underarm centre into sleeve length. (the lining dress was small size, so these inserts also enlarged fit up to 38″ bust.)
Darts can be seen at front and back of bodice sections.Back neck facing and simple front facing cut to fit dress front neckline.
A curved frill piece was used from the original lining dress to create a fit, which curves around back neck and fits to front edge of ‘V’ neckline.
Cutting adjustments made to allow a shape that would extend the curve from centre back neck (left side photo 1.) continuing around to fit to dress front V neckline, and produce a simple fold back collar only at front.
Once the under-fabric was established, an identical shape was cut in white cotton, to use as copy pattern for upper fabric patchwork, (which incorporates the eucalyptus dyed silk).
Photo 2. ‘Collar/facing was firmed a little with fine fused black interlining.
Finnish kimono dress lower patchwork making:
Once upper bodice is completed (with or without sleeves), the lower skirt part of kimono dress is made by cutting rectangles and joining until there is enough to fit around the high waistline. This is the stage to consider which colours to juxtapose in lower garment. You may save some special pieces to show at front. Symmetry is a good idea: working from centre, to sides, repeating colour/shades similarly on either side.
Start at the centre on the back, and work to the sides, adding patches until the desired width is reached, in correspondence to the upper bodice of dress. I describe an ad-hoc method of choosing fabric patches one by one, until enough are made. Alternatively, by calculating desired length of dress, and desired size of patches, you can calculate how many patches of each fabric colour or printed pattern will be needed in advance of cutting and machining. Lay them out on a table to desired colour juxtaposition, keeping in mind how the front and centre back will look. Work similarly from centre back, adding patches across and down, until length is reached. Create the patches in columns, then machine down the long rectangular panels, onto the under lining. (Fabric, or garment used as lining base). Allow 2-3 inches more at front and back, which can be gather-stitched to fit before seaming the bodice and skirt parts together. This could be darted if preferred. I darted the kimono-dress.
[Making images temporailly unavailable – being resized Aug 2020]
There was enough blue themed fabric left to make small tunic dress. Again, patches are stitched onto an existing garment; a cream/white/brown/blue flora design A-line short sleeved flared top, which becomes the lining. The beige and blue on creamy peach work well with the blue patchworks, and also provide a light background to the blue lace patches, contrasting the lace: see top back photo and front lower side. (Light coloured lace can utilise darker backgrounds.) Short sleeves are unlined patchwork with bound viscose print hems.
The armholes were large, for a Plus size, so I darted the lining from armhole to bust point, and did same with upper patchwork. I cut down the centre due to extra width, and folded over edges for front facing firmness, still having enough to overlap for buttoning
MAKING – bound button holes:
Mark width of button, add a little more. Sew a rectangle over button size area on right side of fabric.
Machine around, cut centre, cut into corners
Fold rectangle through to wrong side, Press flat with folds meeting, as shown.
Hand stitch lining to bound edges.
Top stitch on right side (optional). I did so here, due to fraying of lining fabric.
Applique motifs are inspired from Nigella seed pods grown in my allotment. Photos and drawings simplified for cut and sew. The centre silk has been dyed with eucalyptus bark before painting on (same silk as ‘Tasmanian Blues’ collar above), although darker due to after-modifying soaking in iron (rusty nail water makes a considerable darker change). Right photo seed pod has silk centre of bundle dyed silk with seeds and petals. Lace seed ‘pod’ fabric has been also dyed with eucalyptus bark, left overnight after initial silk dye has taken up most of the colour. Its always a good idea to see how deep a colour you can dye in the ‘left-over’ dye bath. See eucalyptus dying blog: