Tag Archives: natural dyeing processes

Slow Fashion-Creating Artisanal Designs with Silk

I did not initially make the  decision to create and sew my own garments with my hand dyed or ecoprinted silk.  The creation of the fabric designs alone is labor intensive  but I enjoy the process and it is no problem to roll up my shirtsleeves and hand paint,  dye, collect leaves and botanically print them onto my fabrics. But how many scarves do you need at a show? You have to offer more than one thing and clothing was perfect!  My skills were adequate-I had sewn clothing off and on for years. But hiring sewers to do the construction work seemed to make sense while I concentrated on creating the fabric designs. What I had not considered was my deadlines. No one will ever work as hard as yourself and eventually I knew that in order to compete and have clothing ready for my shows, it was time for me to bite the bullet!

Thus was born my own clothing lines. No matter what it is called, my own Slow Fashion, Artisanal Clothing, Hand crafted….it fits with what I do now and what I create! Low impact dyes (both natural and synthetic)sustainable and organic designs and clothing created entirely by hand and by me 🙂

So what IS “the “Slow Fashion” movement?” In a nutshell:

“Slow Fashion (Clothing) is the antithesis of fast fashion. It considers the ethics and sustainability of garments, values provenance and artisan skills while focusing on timeless style, comfort and connection. It is about thoughtful, ethical, creative and sustainable ways to enjoy the garments we wear every day while minimizing our material footprint on the world”-from Textile Beat

My collection of artisanal designs in silk and leather

 

 

 

 

 

It does not get much slower than how I do it!   I choose certain days to collect my leaves and ecoprint my fabric. (Weather plays a part in this)  I choose other days to hand paint my fabric or create designs on the silk. Then I will choose  yet another day to sew. In that way I slowly but steadily work on creating my fashions for the shows I attend or for the  custom orders I receive.

So the logistics of sewing with silk are simple. It’s hard, it’s slippery and I discovered that no amount of YouTube videos was going to teach me like just doing it! I dusted off my Brother CS6000i. I should add that as a self employed artist I am rich in art and poor in cash. So this very cost effective sewing machine is under $200. For most of us, whether your machine has 16 or 600 stitches starts to become irrelevant in basic, good construction.  Re-homing my old skills meant a lot of practice and learning new things in new machines.

Brother CS6000i with attached LED lights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But perhaps the best bang for my buck was the Brother 1034D serger I purchased a few years ago!  I was determined to master it (my earlier sewing skills never included a serger!) and how quickly you learn anything depends on how badly you want to learn it!  This Brother Serger was another “under $200” super investment and I have been able to double my output with some of my garments in the time it saves!  I will add that there are some great YouTube videos on using both of these machines from threading to cleaning them. The best ones I found came from Sewing Mastery. (that tip will save you getting lost for 8 hours on YouTube!)

 

Handcrafted, Hand dyed Silk Ruanas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

silk habotai and silk noil garments

Serging is no longer the “to do before hemming” part of sewing.  (ie: serge, fold up hem, sew again) A good tight, serged edge IS the hem!

But there are a few other workhorses now in my arsenal of machines. Nothing beats an older machine-all metal and sturdiness for additional, harder sewing.  For instance, the Brother CS6999i cannot handle my leather. No problem.

Singer Featherweight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bring our my 1954 Singer featherweight. These little workhorses have become expensive and the darling of the Quilting world :-). But you can find them reasonably priced if you look hard enough. With a leather needle, mine can handle basic leather trim and embellishment on my clothing.  But when I move into heavier leather and my ecoprinted hides, I pull out the super workhorse! My 1908 Singer 29-4! These were built to last! A table makes it easier to work flat but with only foot power to run it, well, it can be used anywhere! This is for my heavier leather such as my shoes and handbags.

Singer Leather 29-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found that with patience and practice, the silk I most worked with could be easily managed. From 8mm Habotai to 12mm charmeuse to the much heavier silk noil, all require some machine adjustments and tweaking.

But the end results are beautiful garments designed to showcase not just talent but determination, perseverance and pure hard work in an ethical, slow clothing movement. And nothing feels better than to have accomplished it all by yourself!

Hand crafted artisanal clothing

 

Wearing Nature’s Colors

There's nothing like silk!
There’s nothing like silk!

Truly-there is nothing like the look and feel of silk! Soft and luxurious or earthy and light, nothing compares to this all natural, sustainable fabric against the skin.

And nothing speaks to the soul as eloquently as wearing Mother Nature’s colors imprinted naturally onto silk fabrics. For me,  wearing creations that come from Nature and to experience both the natural colors the leaves give up during my process or the results of natural dye additions is the journey I enjoy most!

The wide variety of natural colors from the leaves on silk
The wide variety of natural colors from the leaves on silk

Let the look of my handcrafted garments tell their own story!

Custom made silk noil tunic
Custom made silk noil tunic
Handcrafted silk noil dress imprinted with leaves.
Handcrafted silk noil dress imprinted with leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handcrafted poncho dyed with cochineal
Handcrafted poncho dyed with cochineal
Handcrafted poncho of silk noil
Handcrafted poncho of silk noil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stylish fit
A stylish fit
Ecoprinted long silk scarf.
Ecoprinted long silk scarf.

 

Indigo dyed Silk dress
Indigo dyed Silk dress

All Natural dyeing with plants

Somewhere back in Time, our ancestors figured out a number of amazing things. In the course of survival, it is understandable that clothes needed to be made and the progression from animal skins to fibers is a fascinating history. But then, someone decided that colors would enhance the fibers and a whole new journey began 🙂

I don’t think most people even think about  color except when looking at clothing on racks in a store. But recently I not only experimented myself but watched a friend Dede Styles, reach back into her Appalachian roots and demonstrate at the NC Mountain State Fair.

She used both iron and brass pots heated with the convenient propane heater. On one day she could not attend, a young couple took over with butternuts.

Dede Styles dying with Goldenrod9
Dede Styles dying with Goldenrod

 

14355563_1362962020395669_7158887091787415408_n

 

Her results were stunning reminders that all that is new is old 🙂 This is especially true when today’s thinking is “go natural” and words like “sustainable, renewable and recyclable” are bandied about as though it was a new concept.

Dede Styles dyeing wool
Dede Styles dyeing wool

My own efforts are similar yet different. I am all about dyeing silk rather than wool. A huge part of the enjoyment is collecting the plant matter to use in a dye pot. My husband happily joins me in this search. Who doesn’t want to wander down back roads and through one’s own pastures? I used my 1940’s porcelain/enamel pot on a hot plate since an iron pot is not yet in my studio!

dyeing with goldenrod
Dyeing silk with Goldenrod

 

dyeing with sumac
Dyeing silk with Sumac

The results are beautiful and indeed, sustainable, renewable and totally organic. And honestly, our ancestors had a good thing going, I think 🙂

Nature’s colors-Amazing results from eco-printing on silk!

OK, I admit it, I’m hooked! Nature’s colors rock! After 11 days of constant painting on silk at the Village of Yesteryear at the NC State Fair (Another blog!) , I experimented with yet another technique for eco dyeing/printing and the results were gorgeous! (I admit it, I brag!)

I collected yet more leaves from maple trees  and along the roadside as well as on my own mini-farm….adding to my collection so I would have leaves when the winter came. It wasn’t hard to enlist the help of my artist husband, Stephen Filarsky! I had hoped that some of the colors of these stunning fall maple trees would dye but the colors did not migrate to the silk….yet. I’ll keep trying 🙂

Fall maple trees
Fall maple trees

Working with iron, onion skins and pecans as a mordant in different batches, well, you’ll have to see the results!

The following scarves consist of silk eco-printed with an assortment and variation (in each) of maples, peonies, mimosa, oak, roses, pear, sumac and pecan to name a few natural ingredients.

onion skin mordant
onion skin mordant

Oak, maple and sumac were within a few of these silk scarves.

Peonies, ferns, maple and roses
Peonies, ferns, maple and roses

A beautiful combination of colors-a surprise actually 🙂

maple leaves on silk
maple leaves on silk

So real, it seems as though you could pluck them off the silk!

rose leaves from various old roses
rose leaves from various old roses

Interesting how different roses printed differently.

Eco-printing on indigo dyed raw silk
Eco-printing on indigo dyed raw silk

The raw silk really takes the dye process. I had previously dyed this piece with indigo and was not happy with it-I am now 🙂

All of my silk work is being done in the small studio. At the moment I am heading off to a show and looking forward to free time after the weekend to experiment a bit more. Big show coming up towards the end of the month!