Category Archives: dyeing

Oliver + S Box Lunchbox Tee

I absolutely love the look of the Lunch Box Tee on the packet cover. It is such a great kiddie interpretation of the drop shoulder, boxy top trend that I’m loving for myself right now. As you can imagine, I was very keen to make it up for one of my girls.

My intention was to make this top for Miss Six, but it may very well be that Miss nearly-Five pinches it for herself. Without the recommended types of knit fabric on hand, I chose to use some small remnants of stretch wool suiting. It’s the same fabric I used for my Chanel drop waist, and later dyed purple for my joggers so I knew very well how it would handle, wash and wear. It has a tiny bit of stretch, but probably no more than 3%. To make my life easy, I did use a ribbed knit for the neckband and the back panel too, since I was short of my purple wool.


I made the top up in a size 7 with no modifications other than to fold over the back ribbing instead of hemming it, and to sew a smaller hem than recommended. I only did this to compensate for the fact that I was too lazy to lengthen the pattern pieces for my long limbed girl. The top fits my very tall, nearly-five year old beautifully. I usually find that the sizing on Oliver + S patterns correlate directly with my girls’ ages (with a little room to move), so I wasn’t expecting this to sew up so small. I suspect the main reason it did is because I used a woven instead of a knit. But I think I prefer it this way and I would definitely use a woven again next time. If you plan to do the same, I’d recommend sizing up by 1-2 sizes.

I’d still like to see how it fits Miss Six so it will still be wrapped up and put under the Christmas tree for her. Little sister would love it for herself though, especially with those neat little front pockets. There might be a little bit of wardrobe swapping going on after Christmas.

On another note, I’m hanging out for the release of the mini-Hudson pants by True Bias. A few weeks ago, this little peep suddenly decided that she couldn’t handle wearing tights or leggings, and would only wear looser fitting pants, like the ones above from Target. I get this. Tights can be itchy on dry skin, but it left me pretty unprepared for her sudden wardrobe overhaul. Target came to my rescue on this occasion, but next time I’d prefer to sew them myself. The shape of these pants remind me a lot of Hudson pants. The challenge I always seem to have though, is in finding a nice range of snuggly knits in pure cotton. I despise the pill-ability of poly blends. Any advice out there on where to find such elusive trackie dack fabric?

The mini maxi skirt

Well this fabric has been through quite a bit. You might remember it here, as my first fabric dyeing experiment. I made it into a sundress for myself but was never quite happy with the shape of it. Then I made it into a maxi skirt for myself with a hi-lo hem. The shape was beautiful, but the style a little too boho for my taste. And I couldn’t quite get past the fact that there was a zipper and seam down the centre front (don’t ask!). I never wore it, never planned to, but I just couldn’t part with the beautiful fabric. It wasn’t even worth photographing.

Finally, after gathering dust in my ‘alterations’ pile for some time, I decided to have a last shot at turning this fabric into something better. And at long last, I can count this final effort at repurposing as a success. In fact, it has turned out to be one of the best things I have ever made for Miss Five. I LOVE this little mini maxi skirt. It is super cool and a little bit girly, but not too grown up. And Miss Five absolutely loves it. 

The fabric is silk crepe de chine and I know this is way too luxe for a five year old. But this type of silk is surprisingly hard wearing (hubby pipes up and reminds me that parachutes are made out of silk!). In the past, I had a few little scraps of a pretty floral crepe de chine that I pieced together to make a simple gathered skirt for Miss Four. It was gorgeously swishy, she wore it every second day, and I machine washed it as regularly. The cotton waistband wore out before the silk. Now, I generally don’t choose to sew my children silk gowns, but on the odd occasion that I have little spare bits, seeing them swish in it almost gives me as much pleasure as if I was wearing it myself.

Hand dyed Hannah

Remember my first fabric dyeing foray here? Well, I finally found a use for the smaller remnant. I always had a top in mind for it, but it took me a while to decide on exactly what to sew. But the other day I stumbled across Salme Sewing Patterns and the lovely Hannah top. Immediately I was smitten.

My fabric was silk crepe de chine from Tessuti Fabrics, which worked beautifully with the design. This particular top was also a muslin of sorts for me since I wasn’t ‘in love’ with my dye job and figured near enough would be good enough with this loose fitting style. However, now that it has been put together, I really like the pattern, especially the way it comes together on the back. 

My Hannah is a fraction too big for me (just in that little area between my bust and armpits) but nothing I can’t get away with, especially if I stand up tall and stick out my bust! I will definitely sew this top again (maybe with the last little bit of my fabric splurge!) but I am not sure if I should do a small bust adjustment or perhaps nip in each side seam by about 1/5 cm each. Doing this might lift the armscyes a little too which wouldn’t hurt. What would you do?

The back to front switcharoo

So my last fabric dyeing session wasn’t a great success. I decided to have a go at creating some floral designs on a light cotton/silk voile. Somehow, my hand decided to draw monster flowers, rather than the delicate buds in my minds eye. I also realised later that I hadn’t mixed the dye thoroughly enough and you can see grainy ‘dots’ of dye all through my flowers. You can only just see this dotty effect in the photo, but in real life it is quite an obvious flaw in the semi sheer fabric.

I can’t bear to throw away fabric, so I decided to make a summer nightie for my daughter using the pattern below. I chose to make the sleeveless nightie in View D, albeit a little shorter.

This is probably the oldest pattern I have ever attempted. The instructions were very clear and the tissue pieces were so delicate with several parts missing. I must also admit that I rushed through this project and didn’t take the time to transfer the markings from the paper correctly (well those that hadn’t been lost in time). I also skipped the ribbon seam binding because I didn’t have it at hand. The dress may have looked a little better with the ribbon, but I still don’t think it could have salvaged the nightie. But hang on…what happens if we turn the nightie around?! It’s just fabulous Mummy, all problems solved, and I especially love the big flower at centre front!


Another dye and stitch experiment

I had this piece of budget silk dupioni that I purchased from Spotlight a few years ago to experiment with before I was brave enough to sew with the nice stuff. It was pure white, and not particularly good quality, a bit of a white elephant in my stash really.

But then I found this little dress on Pinterest (source unknown) and I was instantly inspired to bust out my fabric dyeing kit again. You can check out my first efforts here. And of course the tutorial that sent me on this fabric dying frenzy here at Sallieoh.

Unfortunately, my lime green attempt at replicating this was initially a big disappointment. The green was much lighter and fluro than I’d planned, and although I’d managed to improve on the viscosity of my dye when painting, it still hadn’t really turned out as planned.

As soon as I pulled it out of the washing machine, I pretty much wrote it off as a bad experiment. But I hate the idea of wasting fabric no matter the quality so I half heartedly began to turn it into a simple gathered skirt, still hoping to be surprised. I based my waistband on the pattern pieces from my perfectly fitting Chloe pants and drafted a basic gathered skirt and lined it with some gathered cotton voile.

I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. And it’s my neatest waistband yet! Now I wish I’d taken a few minutes to add inseam pockets.

Of course, I also have nothing to wear with it (any ideas for a next project?) so excuse the mismatching top that I had to resort to for the photos.

Pondering a better top to go with my skirt

Testing out the swirl-factor for Miss Three


Spring frock dyeing project

So this is it. I modified a pattern I drafted for a little linen top last summer and turned it into a swishy floaty summer frock with a graduated hem. It feels beautiful on…and my little middle chickee loves it so much that she has put in an order for a hi-lo hem on her next dress. 

It is possibly a little sheer on the bottom as I didn’t want to line the skirt with anything less than silk for fear of affecting its floatiness. However, I figure I can get away with nude underwear on a normal day and a light slip if I ever planned on attending a dressy daytime function. The silk crepe de chine is beautifully cool and swirls with funnels of air when I walk. I am pretty happy with the way the dye job turned out ,but I will still be interested to see how it will wash and wear.

This style of bodice was actually a bit fiddly to make with such a light and slippery fabric. As always, there is the matter of front access for me to consider (I am still feeding my not-so-bubby chick. Not that I am encouraging all day access, but those strong little fists manage to destroy any neckline in her way). Hence, the ever present invisible zip down the front of my dress. Buttons down the back or an invisible side zip would have looked so much better. I am dreaming of the day I can make myself a boat neck button back tank top!

In any case, I am looking forward to some hot days at the end of the week. You will most likely find me swishing elegantly around the backyard with my smallest peeps. Once again, thank you Sallieoh for the fabulous dyeing inspiration!

To dye for

A while back, I happened across this inspiring blog post about dyeing fabric.  And then a few months later, I happened across this post on fabric painting from The Fabric Store (you will have to scroll down to past halfway to see their beautiful work). Needless to say, I took it as an omen that I had to have a go!

Sallie from the blog site Sallioh has been wonderful enough to provide some beautifully detailed instructions on how to dye your own fabrics. She sets a high bar with her creative designs on silk, so I am not ashamed to say that I shamelessly copied one of her prints.

Now, I have never done anything like this before, but I was lucky enough to have quite a large piece of ivory/white silk crepe de chine in my stash. I ordered my chemicals and dyes online from Kraftkolour using Sallie’s ingredients list. As I live in Australia, I found it a bit difficult to find Blue Dawn/Synthanpol, so I took a stab in the dark and purchased Dynazol Washof instead.

The chemical list was all a bit foreign to me so I probably made a few mistakes. My thickener was a solid alginate which I probably should have dissolved in the warm chemical water at the start. I found it a bit difficult to stir it into the dye water since it separated into lumps instead of making a nice thick dye that I could paint on my fabric a bit easier. So my finished dye was a bit more runny than I liked, making my designs bleed a little more into the fabric.

One of the best tips on the Sallioh blog was to tape two layers of plastic to the floor so you can roll up your finished fabric in the top layer for storage until the dye is washed out. Not only does this keep your floor spotless, but trying to move or roll the freshly dyed fabric is a recipe for disaster. One end of my fabric was a bit longer than my top layer of plastic and moving this at the end resulted in smudged dye and runs on my fabric. Elsewhere, the dyed fabric just stuck to the underlayer of plastic and I rolled it up carefully, then folded it away to wash out the next day. Perfect! I simply used my surplus of plastic double/single mattress covers you can easily obtain from most storage warehouses for a few dollars. (Don’t ask!)

So this is what I ended up creating. I am pretty pleased with the results and have a bit of an idea on how to use the fabric. But I also think I can do a lot better next time. It has certainly broadened my knowledge on use of textiles. I know I will never look the same at a plain white remnant of fabric when I next go shopping!