No Muffintops

When browsing Williams Sonoma a few season’s back, I’d seen this apron.

I immediately fell in love with the simplicity of it. It can be so easy to go for the cute, busy prints offered for the holidays. But this was subdued and I liked that. It wouldn’t be all matchy matchy with other things I use and it wouldn’t clash.  My friends, relatives and I all prefer the full apron without a cinched waist for the simple reason that none of us have the waist to carry that style off.  Half aprons are cute and fast, but as they say of some in skinny jeans, that would result in a muffintop appearance that is a tad unflattering.  My mom used to call it a “potato sack tied in the middle”. Nomenclature changes but the image is the same. The full apron, although not a miracle maker, can mask all those days not spent at the gym with its simple smooth lines (to a certain degree  🙂  ).

I’d been debating about styles to try out and had also saved this picture of an Anthropologie full apron to try although the Williams Sonoma won out. Again, simple and somewhat subdued was the mood I was in when browsing.

Utilized the same pattern I discuss in Apron Redo and line the apron as illustrated in my Halloween version tutorial. Chose the scoop neck over straight and left the bow off the pocket. The ruffle for this one is not from a pattern. It’s simply a long rectangle about 1 1/3 the bottom length of the apron and about 12 inches high. Fabric was JoAnn. The bias trim is Wrights double wide.

I adore how it came out! It’s exactly what I wanted.  Although I was looking for subdued, my sister’s favorite decorating theme is poinsettia and I found this fabric to use for a gift for her, which was also a hit. The Wrights trim in deep green set it off beautifully.

All of us in the U.S. are pushing to get through our Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday so December holiday projects are just starting to appear, more to come.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Victory in a Jar

I enjoy writing. My days are spent in business where good business writing is concise, clear, three points, short words, never confuse anyone with multi-syllable words, descriptors are clutter to the message and sentences should be short. This is important with global audiences where English is a second language to many. For my blog, I love the freedom of “stream of consciousness” (sounds more intelligent than run on sentences, doesn’t it?) and like to push myself to remember simple things like adjectives and descriptors. When pondering terms to use for this post, antediluvian is what I settled on. It means “from the time before the biblical flood”. Marvelous word – don’t you think? Why is this post antediluvian? Because this post is about Mix in a Jar recipes.

Why victorious for my title? Because this mix in a jar recipe is sheer bliss once it’s made into a loaf. Victory, found what I needed, settled on my “theme” to work up (baskets, various wrapping ideas and the theme with another recipe in a future post; you may want to subscribe so you don’t miss it J  I will tell you that for folks I know, I like to include a baked version, plus the mix for them to make and enjoy again later ). If there were blog police, I think they should go after anyone who posts mix in a jar recipes and hasn’t actually made and eaten them or has not posted pics of the finished cooked/baked product. I want to know there’s firsthand experience and what I’m gifting isn’t some gummy oily monstrosity once baked. So, I’m Maggie and I approve this recipe.

My slight variation, substitute some of the white flour with whole wheat and use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips: Sunset Quick Bread in a Bottle.

Dried Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Quick Bread (or Raisin Walnut)

Layer:

 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries, lightly chopped (or raisins) 

Follow Sunset recipe for wet. For gifts I recommend you add the notation that 1 ½  TBL vinegar added to 1 ½ Cup milk can be substituted for the buttermilk (not everyone you gift may have it handy and although buttermilk would be a smidge better, this will still make a fine loaf). * Since originally posting this, I’ve become a fan of dry buttermilk (once the America’s test kitchen folks gave it their approval, I gave it a go. I now add the buttermilk powder to the dry and the corresponding amount of water to the wet. Follow instructions wiith the brand you get for amounts.

 At first I was very concerned. The batter seemed MUCH looser than most tea breads I make. I was reaching for the flour thinking just another ¼ cup but made myself resist as Sunset is usually pretty reliable. I truly had my doubts when putting these into the oven that they wouldn’t be a bit soggy. No worries – do not give in to the temptation to add flour, it bakes up beautifully.

 

 

As I’m testing out gifts, I thought about making the loaves just a tad easier to wrap by lining the pans with parchment (long side only see photo. I didn’t bother with the pan that was for me). As the cooking sprays come out pretty wet – I usually tip the pans over and let them drain a tad, figure the manufacturer doesn’t want any sticking, thus the heavy hand – I placed the parchment in the wet pan then turned it over so batter side had some of non-stick goo. I also sprinkled the tops with a light dusting of white sugar as I like the little extra crunch it gives the final product.

 

My smaller pans took about 40 minutes (I am in the mountains and seem to have to cook all baked goods a tad longer). 

Jars

I realized I wanted to do another wash of my jars (they’d gotten dusty), so you won’t see mine here. But they are something you can ready ahead of time. A nice add is to check the expiration on the flours you use and note that expiration date on the bottom of your recipe cards.  For jars, I use thoroughly cleaned Classico sauce jars (get the sauce in a 3 pack from Costco).  Yes, linking this post to food sites and I have jars of premade sauce confessed to in it. Just mush a few olives, capers and caper juice into it and it transforms. So, the jars – I like that the Kerr regular lids fit precisely and there are no vendor marks on the jars. You might have to use an adhesive remover to get the labels off. A final run through your hot dishwasher and your jars are probably more sterile than what you buy.  I know some paint and reuse the sauce lids, but new Kerr lids cost virtually nothing and take the package up a notch.

I did make and share labels for the jars here.

 

Wrap

 Experimenting with wrapping alternatives and found another keeper. These loaves can be boxed in one 8 ½ X 11 sheet of cardstock (U.S. Letter). My example is showing you only the cardstock “plain” (having guests for U.S. Thanksgiving and am not dragging out the Christmas stuff yet). Crafters reading this post will realize the decorating ideas are endless – they include paint (simply sponge or wash your holiday colors over the paper and let dry), rubber stamping, pen and ink, decoupaged tissue, composing whatever combo you like and running your sheet through your printer, purchased cardstock or downloadable sheet images. I used a heavier cardstock and scored all lines using a clean pan as my guide. No tape – the ribbon at the end holds it together. Plan to make and print round labels for the tops (something original like “From Maggie’s Kitchen” in holiday hues). I’ve scanned the folded one so that I can work the pattern in my design programs.

         

 Special thank you to ‘SnoWhite’ for featuring this post on her blog.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Loving Linen

Making your own linen guest towels is pretty fast and easy if you sew anything at all. And that’s splendid as I love linen. Love the look, love the feel, love working with it.

I know I’ve mentioned that I often rely on Napkins Online from eBay rather than sewing out mitered cornered napkins – but hey  – at about $1.50 each it’s worth it if I have a bunch (sets of 12) to make given I like the whole mitered corner thing. Four or 6 double sided napkins with cute rik rak, aka the Halloween ones I discussed with tutorials here, yield very satisfying high speed results. Linen mitered corner napkins in larger numbers lose their appeal quickly.  Not so the linen towels. You’re not burning your fingertips trying to press and miter really small hems. And, two make a very nice gift. Keep your regular bath towels out but make 2 guest towels in coordinating colors to place over them for your holiday of choice.

Pretty much, I pick up my linen at JoAnn on sale. The folks over at Martha Stewart Living had recommended Gray Line Fabrics in one of their articles and I keep them bookmarked in case I need a color I can’t find locally. They have a wonderful selection and reasonable prices.

 

I simply cut rectangles 25 inches by 15 inches. First press the hems – I like to use a stiff piece of cardboard as a guide, for those in the U.S. priority mail envelopes have a nice edge to help with straight hems. First, press all around less than a ¼ inch. Then make a second pass. Finished side hems are about ¼ inch, back hem about ½ inch and front hem 1 ½ inch. Decorate to your liking. Machine embroider, hand embroider, stitch rick rak, trims or fabric strips across or appliqué with either iron on or stitching. The one thing to keep in mind is that linen really only looks good if you iron it while damp – it can be difficult to get crisp looking otherwise.

I’d purchased some linen guest towels here and they’re fine -literally and figuratively (she’s a popular seller). My Nice / Naughty stitching actually poked a hole through the purchased towel when stitching out the poinsettia (i.e. the fine notation). For my handcrafted linen towels I use a bit sturdier linen so I have more design choice in machine embroidery I’ve used JoAnn’s 100% linen (note the linked linen is 53 inches wide), not a handkerchief linen which would be too fine. You could go with linen look (55% linen, 45% rayon) or craft some very inexpensively using “poor man’s linen”, osnaburg (100% cotton), if you prefer. I’ve decided I like my handcrafted better then the “for sale hemstitch”. If you like the look of hemstitch but want to make towels, check out the fancy stitches on your machine. You may find you like an airy, feathering stitch along the hemline just as well.

 Always prewash and dry (low if linen, high for cottons). If you machine stitch items that later shrink, you’ll end up with something that’s only good as a rag – it will never look good again (picture a scrunched up embroidery design that never flattens out). For this reason be careful when purchasing items to embroider. I’d bought some cotton waffle weave that shrank terribly. I was a tad forewarned as the site said wash cool lay flat – but I don’t know anyone I could gift waffle weave cotton dish towels who would not throw them in the washer and dryer so I bought a few as an experiment. I was surprised to find someone was actually selling cotton dishtowels that couldn’t go in the dryer to crafters as embroidery blanks. They are now with my rags, luckily I didn’t embroider with them first. I can understand with linen, but cotton waffle weave? I only hope crafters reselling these didn’t lose their reputation and customers. Not pre-washing keeps that crisp, new look. But it can bite you later. Always pre-wash. Starch after if you like and want a crisp new look. (aside: I did email the seller, saying the warning was there so I didn’t want a refund but it wasn’t big and could cost customers – I noticed they came off the site’s offerings).

I use various shades of linen above are 2 in the “natural” look. The runner they are sitting on is linen yardage from Ikea (seemed to be a summer product only).

The Dove towel stitched out beautifully. The Peace on the right I’d edited by removing the dove and added the word peace. My machine then had problems stitching it out (no stop from green to red on 2 of the poinsettias that you can see). When machine embroidery fouls up – it can be nasty. Nests of threads knotted together on the underside, can poke big holes, and worse. My first machine had a ton of problems (and these puppies can be expensive). The retailer finally swapped it for a different new one and it’s been clear sailing since, but at first it was way too finicky and unpredictable.

The designs on the towels I’m displaying are: Embroidery Library Watercolor Maple Leaves and Embroidery Library Victorian Christmas Dove. I usually edit the colors to suit me better. The Nice, Naughty I’d put together with my font program. I have so many small holiday designs I’m not sure where those particular poinsettia and mistletoe came from.

If you don’t want to “sew your own” Dharma trading has very reasonably priced linen runners (and  Napkins Online has linen cotton blend runners). For something different in hand embroidery designs, check out Sublime Stitching or Urban Threads. Using trims, fabrics and appliqué on your guest towels is as limitless as your imagination.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Bond, James Bond

Thought I’d post about a few miscellaneous machine embroidery projects. For those without an embroidery machine but with a basic understanding of sewing and an imagination for adding your own embroidery, appliqués or image transfer designs – this post will still have some ideas for you.  I’d mentioned early on in this blog that I’d been searching out non-vendor blogs related to machine embroidery and coming up empty. So, I’m on a mission to highlight a few more projects.  The starring role today goes to Milo.  Sis takes care of mom (monumental task) and likes dressing her pooch, so sis gets the goods she likes from lil ol’ seamstress me.

This first design is an “in the hoop” project from Moose Be Stitchin.  It’s a casing for the collar with a simple triangular bib, embroidered “buttons” and a bow tie you hand stitch on.  Very easy, fast, oh so cute on and pretty much easy for the pooch to wear.  We call it “Bond, James Bond”.

This shot is a sewn and not embroidered at all (in case some of you stitchers are still with me) dog bandana with Happy Birthday embroidered kitchen towel (it does match the apron sis also received). The Happy Birthday design is Embroidery Library (you’ll see their name popping up a lot as they have good pricing and consistent sales with fantastic pricing  – if you’re an embroiderer, sign up for their Christmas Club plus Happy Hour Fridays to get truly tempting prices coming to your inbox).

As long as I’m discussing Embroidery Library, here are cupcake napkins that go with the whole birthday/cupcake theme for sis. I prefer cotton or linen hemstitch (I get mine on eBay from Napkins Online) but sis has her hands full and requires no-iron polyester.  The cotton and linen, though lovely, must be ironed when damp to look good. I’d sewn some solid ones to decorate, but at $1.50 each decided I’d rather start with the eBay hemstitched ones then toil with my iron and machine carefully making mitered corner napkins.

Another, “probably easy to replicate with a tad of thought” project is the Zippy Designz duster made from your fleece scraps (fits 99cent store duster or Swifter handles).  Don’t want to step on Carolyn at Zippy’s toes so won’t give pics or details, but you just need 3 rows of stitching to hold this together and you have a green, washable, re-usable duster that gets in crooks, crannies and all around those books. I’ve whipped up a bunch. They also make pretty good cat toys if your kitties chase your dusting activities the way mine do (not the vase, no … L).

With fall holiday season opening up to full swing, it’s time to bake those warm goodies to share at gatherings with friends and family. I was always finding myself rushing off with casseroles or baked goods fresh from the oven, wrapped in towels to not burn me or the car seat. Time for the age old classic – a casserole cover.  Now some lovely patterns call for such a nice handle – Beware.  I know someone who actually carried the casserole by the handle, which, of course tipped, swayed and dumped said casserole on the pavement (they were lucky it didn’t happen inside the car, eeewwww). Save yourself and appointed casserole carrying helpers the temptation of using that handle. A simple slide-in case that you carry is the best all around bet and simpler to sew.

 

Embroidery Library showcased a project (here) where the stitcher simply took two quilted placements, sewed them together leaving one end open and placed a nice big button and buttonhole on the open end. I like the look of the scalloped placemat edges. You don’t have to add a design with some of the lovely patterned placemats available. I made an extra large case for my extra large casserole by simply starting with some cotton pre-quilted solid fabric. The design is lettering is from my Husqvarna Viking Topaz with an edited combo of Embroidery Library’s border from their chocolate pack and Embroidery Design.com’s Machine Embroidery Designs cupcake.  (Embroidery Designs.com carries multiple vendors).  I made the bias trim from fabric in my stash.  Always make an easily washable casserole cover as some drips/spills and food smudges should be expected. I’ve picked up a bunch of placemats with these on my Christmas to do list.  No worries – I haven’t yet hooked gift exchanging friends and family to this blog just so I can write about the crafting here without ruining any surprises. Those of you who do stitch can imagine how fast the placemat version of these carriers goes together.  Besides, how better to showcase those fancy buttons you pick up at quilt shows or create from Fimo?

I’ll close with another doggie project.  This for close friends who acquired a Rottweiler while living in South Africa. They are now crazy about her. Their gift was pillow covers in their guest room colors. My friend helped me pick the right Rottweiler design (this is Embroidery Library but Embroidery Designs.com has a bunch, a lot of their obviously males) and match the thread colors to her dog so this would be personalized and correct.

With Christmas wish lists begun, if any of you have questions about machine embroidery –I’ll be happy to answer what I can.                   

Paradoxes, Inconsistencies, Contradictions and Christmas Gifts

It’s a good thing I subscribe to the philosophy that I shouldn’t take myself too seriously.  And, the longer I walk this planet, the more I’m certain I must extend that consideration to friends, relatives and acquaintances.  If we had to reconcile all the paradoxes, inconsistencies and contradictions in what we claim to believe and advocate, well that would be a pretty tough undertaking.  I’m reminded of the many bloggers who expound on their righteous adoption of simple living, no consumerism for them – yet they create, market and strive to sell you every cute chotsky they’ve carefully crafted so that you may clutter your home.  I have nothing against these folks – most have beautiful blogs and share their crafter’s journey generously.  But I smile when reading of their devotion to simple living while they simultaneously encourage you to buy items that no dyed in the wool simple living practitioner would ever call “necessary” for sustenance.  I truly mean no offense – I just find it sooo funny and I’ve come across blog after blog of these crafty sellers.

So, I will raise my right hand and admit that I love decorations and the whole gift giving thing.  I prefer to labor under the delusion that I’m not “one of those” who buy into the consumerism of the holiday season – but hey, I started working presents in July and bought more machine embroidery patterns for decorations. Make that more than I’ll use this season, or this season and next year, maybe even ever but let’s not go there. 🙂

 

Gifts – one nifty little gift that’s been adopted by many craft artisans is the zipper bag. Free or for purchase patterns abound, Etsy offers many ready to purchase and those of us playing with machine embroidery have a wide selection of designs to choose from.  The one I’ve used the most to date is a  quilted front pattern from ZippyDesignz.  I love her RikRak trim and also have her RikRak Polka Dots for machine embroidery.

First, if you are using an embroidery machine to quilt, you will layer your material and batting with stabilizer. Heavier cut away may be good for a purse or something you want stiff, a few layers of wash away for something you want very soft and degrees of other stabilizer weights depending on your project. Below, red is the top, orange the bottom, you can see batting and stabilizer in between (and that I wasn’t overly careful lining these up, I’ll just have to come in a bit when I seam). You cut the bottom larger than your stitching area and either pin the corners or use painter’s tape to adhere it outside of your stitching lines to the hooped stabilizer. In fussing about with patterns to change them, I often goof a bit – take it from me, you don’t want your machine stitching through nice sticky painters tape and you don’t want to have to pick said tape out between every stitch of your project. If you find your thread fuzzing and breaking – check that you’re not stitching on tape. Also, my machine (Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz) doesn’t like the batting too high when in embroidery mode – something like Warm and Natural is great.

   

Most machine embroidery bag patterns allow you to add your own design at some point in the stitch out. I did monograms on these, both Embroidery Library 3 inch Script.  In the photo below, the beige floral bag in front followed the pattern as supplied. Always stitch a pattern as supplied at least once and make notes on your instruction print out.  I don’t mind sewing, so I might do part of the bag in the hoop following the instructions (here attaching the zipper and stitching the RikRak edge) then stop the machine and remove my pieces to finish on the sewing machine.  This enabled me to make the larger bags you see.

For those, I used Embroidery Library’s sashiko quilting square to quilt both a front and back piece.  On the front piece I left an inch of top fabric to fold under at the zipper line.  I also quilted the sashiko on the thinner pieces that go from the zipper to bag top, ditto with extra fabric where the zipper will be. These pieces are then used following the ZippyDesignz instructions with my stopping the machine before it stitches the quilting or around the edge.  My bags look a bit different than Zippy’s as I also had the fabric meet right at the zipper center line, not a bit away from it.  I added glass beads to the zipper pulls.

These bags are lined AND on the inside you see the stitching around the four sides (I went over mine with my Serger). 

 

I made this bag for my niece.  Her college mascot is a leopard and paw prints are de rigueur for accessories.  It’s the ZippyDesignz bag with Embroidery Library paw print and S from my machine editor. She’s an architecture major and they make models – so it’s perfect to keep her tools in one place in her backpack.

Then I took just the lower half of the top quilted piece, with rikrak edge but not attached to a zipper and made her a case for her iTouch.

I intend to take the top bit and make a tissue case (one of these days).

 

I’d done the same zipper case in a great hot pink patterned fabric with lime interior plus a reverse lime patterned fabric with hot pink interior that was very fun looking (perhaps I can snag a photo from one of the recipients).  One was part of a birthday gift for the 5th grader across the street with her full name spelled out (and lip gloss, nail polish and some other things within).  She just let me know her brother (first grade) told her to let me know he wants one as part of his Christmas gift.  Now that’s positive feedback!

In closing, here are a few tutorials by others to get you inspired and round out your knowledge:

Apron Redo

Like many of us, the Siren’s song of aaaaaawwwwww kitchen apron hit me hard.  Time spent at the sewing machine, the embroidery machine and printing images to cloth has resulted in apron collections for me, those I create handmade Christmas and birthday gifts for and a local charity.  My most recently completed creation is this bright cupcake apron, fabric from JoAnn‘s.

I have a really ancient Simplicity pattern (8106) that had you put buttonholes on a towel piece and buttons on the waist band to fasten a handy cloth right at hand.  I saw it when perusing my patterns and realized, given my complete penchant for creating a total mess (how do other folks keep flour from drifting about or drips and smears from adorning their countertops?) that I must start doing this.

 

Excuse the look of the pattern – when my kitty companions were young they found their way into a pattern box.  For those of you who know cats, ‘nuff said.

As I was doing a full size apron, the buttons looked better on the hip than waist. I made two at the same time. This one was a gift for a Patricia, thus I embroidered the Embroidery Library Script P on the towel.

I’d also seen a cute heart shaped fingertip pot holder pattern over at Martha Stewart (like her or hate her – she has great recipes and craft patterns, remember she did build her empire starting there, wouldn’t have made it far if were just crap. Her scone and biscotti recipes are staples in my baking for gifts – and me – repertoire).  But I digress. Thought the pot holder would be a nice addition.  Altered mine from her pattern (quilting both the top and the bottom and changing the shape a tad). At the time, I simply cut and made two aprons and stored teh other. Took it out, added a new towel and pot holder and made it part of the Master Gardener donation 2014.

In addition to the half apron, the old pattern also had a simple chef’s apron that I used to rely heavily upon – had a friend who would borrow it often as well.  I really did get excellent use from that pattern. When you find the patterns on cloth irresistible and yearn to possess a fabric the way Gollum obsessed to possess the ring, you look for uses and ways to display that fabric.  The old pattern allowed one solid canvas to display a prized fabric.

But the old pattern no longer resonates for me.  I still love the fabric for my fall apron.  It’s in great shape as the Thanksgiving holiday had been rarely celebrated in my tiny previous home but reserved for relatives with the space to accommodate.  It’s now time for a redo and upcycle.  The cupcake apron was a combo of two patterns. The apron from Simplicity 8720 view E shortened and the flounce from Butterick 6567 also shortened to fit width wise.  I line all of my aprons with muslin. Being a fabric enthusiast, this means that for light colored cottons any pattern you may be wearing underneath the apron will not interfere with the look of it, should you make a mess, stains have less opportunity to bleed through and I strongly prefer the look of a lined apron.

First I added the flounce across the bottom of the apron from a sparkly brown I had in my stash.

Then I added binding made from the flounce material to the apron and binding from the leaf material to the flounce.  On my about page, I use a magpie as analogy – you’ll find it’s a common one for me as I like sparkly things and fabrics.  Fabrics with a sponged gold or iridescence make me quiver in anticipation of what I might create with them.  Think Michael Miller’s Fairy Frost (that I’ve already been stockpiling for my Christmas sewing).  The brown is perfectly sparkled with flecks of gold throughout. The original leaf fabric also has a sponged irridescence.

However improved, this still needs something and is a work in progress.  My intent is to use my embroidery machine to create a lined maple leaf pocket for this apron.  I’ll blow up one of my appliqué patterns from Embroidery Library.  I’d found some brown towels and tan towels, but neither color is right and this isn’t a gift. I’ll just have to make myself reach for my towels and potholders.  When completed I’ll post the final picture here.

Purple Hands, My Latest Dye Effort

I like putting my personal stamp on items – doesn’t have to be “totally out there” to be different, perhaps just a nuance of, yes something similar might exist, but it’s not this exactly. So, I’ve just finished up a dying project.  Got a few more percolating in the background to give a go.

Not sure how the rest of you work, but I tend to go in binges.  Might get my new catalog from Dharma Trading (oooohhhhhh) or start chatting with another craft artist and think “hmmn, been awhile since I’ve seen what’s over at Thai Silks”.  Then, as long as you’re going to place an order anyway, you ponder each item as to what you might do with it and who might like that kind of gift.  Add them all to your cart, gasp, start reducing the vision of what you might do for whom and still place a rather monstrous order.  My excuse is I live in the mountains and don’t have good craft supply nearby – wouldn’t want to get into a project without everything on hand. I’m sure with a little thought you can come up with a good excuse of your own for stockpiling new craft projects as well.

Before we get too deep into dying, remember that safety is important (follow the safety precautions on the instructions I link) and we’re choosing to use permanent dyes (great for your project- not so much for your counter, floor, tabletop, clothes currently adorning your body and any other cloth you might be silly enough to leave close by that you really didn’t want dyed).

When you dye – different fibers take the dye differently.  Depending on the project – you might care if your item is sewn with all cotton thread, which will dye the same as your cotton shirt, or polyester thread, which generally stays pretty white.  In the picture above you can see this tee was sewn with polyester thread on the hem.  Not such a big deal for three reasons.  I did leave some white in the shirt, the collar has no top stitching so the white thread isn’t “in your face” and this was a shirt I already owned and hadn’t worn much.  As you can see below – so we’re just talking sleeve hems and the bottom.  You may or may not care about this – but if you dye dark colors on nice items, I suggest getting things with cotton thread.

The other tee shirts shown are Gildan from Dharma, sewn with cotton thread.  They’re a nice weight tee and I’m pretty happy with them.  Dharma notes if items are sewn with polyester or cotton thread as they carry both.

For this batch, I wanted tones of blue with very little white.  I went with Dharma’s Fiber Reactive Procion MX type dyes, mixing up #130 Strong Navy, #21 Teal Blue and #85 Seafoam Green.  There is so much good material out there that I’m going to indulge myself in not keying in every detail –  I mixed per instructions and generally followed Dharma’s outline, doing the soda soak first. I’d put the items on newspaper to drain for about 10 minutes then placed them in bags overnight.  It was a warm day (90’s).

I knew I didn’t want this batch too bright (some of it was for me, the rest gifts).  If I’d wanted bright – a simple substitution of #25 Turquoise for the teal blue would’ve done the trick. The top shirt is the simple swirl starting by the shoulder (my favorite “go to” pattern).  The next few shirts are folded in the middle, then swirled from the shoulder area. I deliberately didn’t want a “spider” so I did my swirl/spin away from the center fold line.  Swirling on the center fold line would’ve given me the traditional spider. Watch WolfEchoes The Spider Tie Dye Pattern for easy basics and understanding.  I like his box with grate – could line the box with a plastic garbage bag to catch the drips.  Might have to see if I can make one next time with screen. Many of us also use an old fork to grab the fabric and swirl – saves cramped fingers.  If I’d not watched the video, I’d have forgotten to let my items drain a few moments on newspaper which prevents puddles in the bags (that can mean mucky brown results depending on the colors you’re mixing). I applied my navy first, then the teal, and finally where I could see white, bits of the seafoam. May not matter much – but fabric absorbs dye until it’s saturated and I wanted the darkest colors to have the best saturation, so I dye them first.  I also didn’t want sharp lines on my items, so when the last color was added I squeezed them (press a bit, no twisting) making the edges blur more where the colors overlap.

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I also played a bit with just drops, dripping.  On an outdoor table covered with a painter’s plastic drop cloth, I lay down my item and scrunched it together. Just rest your hand on a flat surface and pull your thumb and fingers together and do that all over the piece. Then for the pieces above and below, I just dropped and drizzled the dye from a plastic teaspoon or the jar with the dye itself.

The photos above and below shows how the cotton thread dyed – navy above, a bit darker than the fabric below on the hem though obviously still a match.  This shirt is a light cotton sheeting, the Berkeley Shirt.

The next shirt I tacked was a bit of a rescue. I wasn’t paying enough attention walking with a full cup of coffee.  Got a rather large splot.  Didn’t worry about it as there are enough stain removers on the market that I figured no biggie.  I was wrong. I think I forgot about it the first wash and dry, which essentially set it.  Tried regular spot removers, a specialty enzyme one just for coffee, even though I was pretty sure it was coffee I went on to an enzyme for tomato and finally soaking it in Biz. The last effort lightened the osnaburg shirt but the stain was still visible.  However, after splatting, sploshing and dripping dye on it – that light stain cannot be found and it’ s now my fav comfy cotton shirt.  Picked it up a street fair in Arnold, CA.  Would get a few more of these shirts but the printing on label washed right out and I don’t know who made them (something for all you Etsy folks to keep in mind).

Photo below is just osnaburg fabric (cotton, called poor man’s linen as it looks similar to linen) next to the shirt.  The shirt dyed very well although I was starting with a natural beige.  Color results are similar to the white RTD (ready to dye) Berkeley shirt from Dharma.  Not sure if the Biz soak made much of a difference, but I’ll be trying dye + osnaburg more soon as I like the weight and drape of the fabric.

If I am going to go to the bother to make a mess, I make it worth my while.  So, I also scrunch dyed a rayon scarf. I’m going to sound like a walking ad for Dharma – but I LOVE this scarf.  The knotted fringe is a nice weight and isn’t going to get all weird like a lot of fringe does.

It’s also a nice size (20 by 70) – I spread it out below so you can see – and more like a light cotton weight.  Just for balance, I’ll add a few items to the bottom of the post I’d dyed from Thai Silks.

Finally, I dyed Dharma’s cotton jersey shorts. Comfy and perfect during our hot summers. They fit and hang well – look a tad odd below because of how I draped them over the dressform.

For balance, here is a cut velvet scarf from Thai Silks that I dyed for my handmade Christmas giving last year.

Why the purple fingers post title?  Well, I diligently wore my nice heavy non latex rubber gloves during the process.  However, took them off for clean up/collection of tools and ended up with purplish fingers and nails – looked like I’d shut a car door on my hand! Was another reminder for me that I need to never ever dye things in my house (garage and outside ok) and I have to be very very careful if I mix in an area with a sink and carry my mixed dyes somewhere else to splat, splosh and pour. Remember, dry dye particles will float in air, land, get moist and stain. I’d seen a helpful hint somewhere that recommended putting a damp rag cloth under your mixing area so any floating dye would be drawn to that.