Overdyed Pashmina Shawl

This was a fairly simple and oh-so-satisfying project. I bought the pashmina (silk and cashmere) for a few dollars at a thrift store and used it as a sort of throw in my son’s room when he was a baby. It was just the right color at the time, but after it outlived its usefulness, I felt obligated to wear it.

The problem was, it just wasn’t my color, so I never did. It seemed too luxurious to get rid of, so finally I decided to overdye it. I had to choose a color that was in the same vein but deeper. This coral color (Deka calls it “Hibiscus”) seemed just right, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. The color is very slightly uneven, but to me that’s just part of the charm of hand-dyeing.

I have to confess, though, that I’m still a little lost as to how to wear a pashmina shawl—maybe I should look for an online tute? The beading is also a little fancy for my taste. I could remove it, but that feels a little drastic. In the meantime, the shawl is keeping me warm at home.

For tips on overdyeing, see my post How to Overdye. If you’re in the US, I recommend dharma trading for supplies and directions. Remember: only try this with natural fibers, and please not with anything precious, because you never know what your results will be.

I threw in a few other things while the dye was ready, including this tablecloth from the thrift store here:

You may remember it from this earlier post. I love the dipped-in-Kool-Aid look it has here—so much more interesting than the brown on white. I’m planning to make some travel sacks for my daughter to pack her shoes and dirty laundry in. This always seems to be an issue when we travel, and it’s nice to have something handy and cute to use.

Speaking of fiber arts, the haiku sweater is off the needles (woowoo!) and Amy Karol had this great post on knitting attitudes the other day. And by the way she seems to have found a similar cookie thing like ours (where you can print letters) at Williams Sonoma. She’s a much more patient mommy than I am because she let the kids do a bajillion different words. I’m inspired.

Also, regarding fiber arts, I was totally happy to see the return of annekata. She had quit blogging for awhile, but she’s back!

Hand-Dyed Patchwork Duvet Cover

It’s finished! The duvet cover I started lo these many months ago is now on my son’s bed. His bed is a bunk, though, very difficult to photograph, so this bed had to stand in.

This duvet cover started out life as my son’s cribsheets, which I hand-dyed and batiked. Also thrown in are scraps from curtains I made for his room and the pieces from a failed attempt at a shopping cart cover and leftovers from his baby sling. For more information about how this cover was made, check out these posts: this one on the batik, this one on his original room, this one about the design for the bed cover, and here and here about the patchwork process.

I’m really excited with how it turned out. It just glows. The little man really likes it, too.

Here’s another view.

And below, a couple of detail shots:

On to other duvet covers for the rest of the family!

FYI I recently joined Pinterest, a social networking site where you can “pin” images from the web into an account so you can look at your favorite things together in one place. Other people can see them, too, so if you’re interested in seeing what I’ve pinned, click here. I seem fixated on quilts lately, so that’s most of what you’ll see. Be forewarned, if you’re addicted to beautiful images, like I am, it’s a bit of a dangerous site.

How to Overdye

I did this project a long time ago, but I thought of it recently after seeing this blog post about overdyed rugs. I made these curtains when I was first living in Boston. I moved there with no job, no furniture, and very little money. If you missed the post with paintings of my apartment there, check it out.

Cash was short, and fabric stores were really hard to get to for someone relying on public transportation, so I started sewing with things I found at the thrift store.

For some reason, I can’t remember why, I was determined to have red curtains for our living room. So determined the curtains be red that I dyed sheets and stitched curtains out of them by hand because I had no machine. Well, we did have some crazy boy neighbors who had a gigantic telescope which they swore they weren’t using to spy on us.

Anyway, tips on overdyeing.

1) Start with natural fibers in a pale color, or discharge first

These sheets/ curtains are 100% cotton and were originally a peachy color. You can also start with a deeper color and opt to soak your fabric in a bleach solution to remove the original color. This is called discharging. If you’re going that route, you’ll be better off with a fabric that is still fairly new, as the bleach will weaken the fibers a good bit. And I wouldn’t try discharging fabric for a heavy-wear item, such as a handbag, or something that will need a lot of washing, because again, the fabric will be more fragile.

2) Select dye color carefully

Remember that the color you start with, however pale, will influence the dye color, and the result will be different from what you’d get from dyeing plain white fabric. You’re layering color. A basic knowledge of the color wheel is useful here.

As a general rule of thumb, overdyeing is going to work better if the original color is in the same color family as the dye color. For example, my peachy sheets and the red dye color are both warm colors. Had I chosen to dye them blue, the peach would have tempered that blue, making it a little muddy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a little unpredictable.

3) Follow dye instructions

Skip grocery store dye, which fades and bleeds a lot when you wash, and use procion dyes like those found at dharmatrading. For more even color, soak the item in clear water first before dipping it into the dye.

4) Have open-ended expectations

This is not an exact science. Chances are, your end product will not look the way you pictured it, and it’s best if you’re okay with that from the beginning. Also, don’t dye something precious. That’s why thrift store-finds are a perfect choice here. If it doesn’t turn out, you don’t get your heart broken.

For more reading about dyeing:

Read my earlier posts about getting started with dyes here (animal fibers) and here (plant fibers). Also check out these posts from ohfransson: discharging here and overdyeing here.

Wish I knew what to do with these old curtains. I can’t toss them, but I don’t really have much of a red thing going on in our current place. The vintage cream floral fabric came from a garage sale in Contoocook, VT, the same place where I got the braided rug “kit.”

It’s been a slow week creatively. I limped through a little writing and inched along on my son’s bedcover (almost finished!), but it took everything out of me just to keep the kids clean, fed, homeworked, and back and forth to school and home. Still, I have to keep in mind that even limping and inching are moving toward my goals. Have a great weekend. It’s sunny here and above freezing, which means spring fever is visiting us once again.

Silk + Easter Egg Dye

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I did these pieces right before we left for Germany. It’s really easy to dye animal fibers with food coloring, kool-aid, or easter egg dye. These dyes don’t work on cottons or linens but are very colorfast in wool and also work for silk, though in silk they’re a smidge less colorfast. Cashmere also works.

I figure a good frau can never have too many scarves. And now I know why (or at least I think I do) they’re such a big thing here in Europe. Part of it has to be the fact that during most of the year it may be the only item of clothing people see, other than your coat and hat. Now that it’s late May I’m finally emerging from my heavy wool coat and into my trench coat. And I’m proud to announce I’ve even ventured out a few times with no coat at all! Amazing!

Anyway, these are a few scarves I dyed using Easter egg dye. They were blanks from dharmatrading.com, which is a great resource for clothing blanks of all kinds. I started with the instructions here for dyeing playsilks (which I did last fall with kool-aid) and improvised a little. I wanted to create patterns on the scarves but wasn’t sure how to go about it. The good thing about dharma trading is the scarves are so inexpensive I didn’t have much to lose. I want to keep experimenting, but thought I’d share what I’ve come up with so far.

With the orange scarf, I tried a dip-dyeing technique where you fold fabric and, yes, dip it into the dye. First I folded, then wet with clear water, squeezed gently, then dip-dyed the edges of the triangle. I would make the dye a little stronger next time. It doesn’t look finished to me, so I think I’ll do something else to it but don’t know what yet.

With this bluish-greenish scarf, I think I just dyed it straight but of course it always has folds and all so the color never is perfectly even. Part of the charm of hand-dyeing. I forgot to heat-set the blue and over-dyed it with green later, ending up with a tie-dye-type effect. Then I heat-set so the design would stay.

I can’t decide if it’s cool or if it looks like something Ruth Fisher (from Six Feet Under) would wear. The kids definitely like it. They are always stealing this one, and it’s only fair since sometimes I steal a playsilk and wear it 🙂

In case you’re wondering, the scarves can be hand washed. The color washes out a tiny tiny bit but not enough to matter.