Category Archive

DIY Sew: Dyeing Yarn with Natural Dyes

diy sew: dyeing yarn with natural dye - drifter and the gypsy blog
While I dye fabric with natural dyes on a weekly basis, I’ve never dyed yarn before and wanted to try my hand at it. My sister is an avid knitter, so I decided to surprise her with some naturally-dyed yarn in a warm, madder root hue.

Dyeing yarn is a little intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. Many people are afraid of accidentally felting wool when dyeing, but this only happens when the yarn is agitated; not by heat contact itself. For this reason, treat your yarn with care when dyeing–stir gently and never let the bath exceed 180 degrees Fahrenheit (in other words, do not boil your yarn!).

Materials:

diy sew: dyeing yarn with natural dye - drifter and the gypsy blog
– Yarn
– Thread for tying yarn
– Madder root powder
– Alum
– Cream of tartar
– Five gallon stainless steel pot
– Stainless steel stirring spoon
– Piece of cheesecloth
– Linen (or muslin for binding dyestuff ingredients)
– Kitchen scale (for weighing ingredients)
Eucalan (for washing).

*All utensils used during dyeing should not be used for food afterwards–they are no longer food safe.*

Yarn spun with natural fibers is best, as there is no telling what colors acrylic or other manmade fibers will yield. For this project, I dyed Cascade 220 wool and Kona Bulky superwash merino wool. I also included a small piece of llama and cotton yarn to test.

Steps:

diy sew: dyeing yarn with natural dye - drifter and the gypsy blog
1. Unwind yarn from skeins into a hank, loosely tying with string in several places to keep yarn together. Don’t tie too tightly, otherwise you might end up with tie-dyed yarn.

2. Presoak yarn (in a sink or bowl) in a mix of tepid water and one teaspoon of Eucalan per gallon of water. Eucalan doesn’t require a rinse after washing, so no need for that. The yarn should be wet when adding it to the mordant bath.

3. Fill your five gallon pot with enough water that your yarn can move around freely. Add one ounce of cream of tartar and two ounces of alum for every pound of yarn you are dyeing, stir to dissolve. Alum and cream of tartar act as a mordant, thus making the yarn take dye better and stay colorfast.

4. Add wet yarn to the mordant bath and gently simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. After an hour, turn off the heat and allow yarn to cool in mordant bath. Once cool, pour out the mordant bath and yarn into a sink.

5. Fill up your pot again with water, and this time add your madder root dye. I like to use about a 1:2 ratio when dyeing fibers–in other words, eight ounces of madder root for one pound of yarn. If your dyestuff is in large root/leaf pieces rather than ground into a powder, I recommend binding your dye in a piece of cheesecloth or linen (muslin works fine as well). You can either sew it into a loose bag or bind it using rubber bands or string. Try to keep the dyestuff a little loose in the bag, but not so loose that it will come out. Simmer your dye bag in the pot of water for one hour.

6. Add mordanted yarn to dye bath and simmer for one hour, stirring gently every ten minutes. Check the color of your yarn after an hour (remember fibers are darker when wet), and if the desired color is reached, turn off heat and let the yarn cool in dyebath for 6-12 hours for optimum color. If not, simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour.

7. Rinse yarn gently in cool water until water runs clear and give it another Eucalan soak. Lay it out to dry. Once dry, you can wind it into a ball using this handy method.

diy sew: dyeing yarn with natural dye - drifter and the gypsy blog
diy sew: dyeing yarn with natural dye - drifter and the gypsy blog
diy sew: dyeing yarn with natural dye - drifter and the gypsy blog
diy sew: dyeing yarn with natural dye - drifter and the gypsy blog
Lauren (DIY Sew Contributor)

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DIY Sew: Reworking a vintage hat

diy sew: reworking a vintage hat - drifter and the gypsy blog
You’re at the thrift store looking for a great wool hat, and the only thing you can find are flowery hats that belonged to Blossom fans in the ’90s. If Blossom hats aren’t your thing, it’s actually pretty easy to give life to an old wool hat by simplifying and trimming it – all without sewing and finished in 10 minutes.

Materials:

– Felted wool hat
– Scissors
– Fabric chalk
– Lint roller
– Steamer

diy sew: reworking a vintage hat - drifter and the gypsy blog
Steps:

1. Remove sashes, flowers, etc. Be extra careful with this step because sometimes the sash can be glued on pretty tight. Use a pair of sharp scissors or a seam ripper to remove extra details (and *gently* scrape away the glue with your scissors) until you have a plain wool hat. *If you still have lots of excess glue and it isn’t coming off, I recommend covering it up with a strip of leather – form a band around the crown and hot glue it in place.*

2. Trim the brim. To be safe, I recommend marking all the way around in advance with fabric chalk, and always start by trimming a small amount first if you’re in doubt. I trimmed about 5/8 inch around the brim. When you’ve got your desired brim width, trim any jagged edges for a smooth, round brim.

The beauty of felted wool is it doesn’t fray, so after you cut the brim, it’s all set for wear – no hemming or finishing.

3. My hat was looking a little wrinkly and misshapen, so I decided to reshape it using steam. Steam your hat – as the steam hits the hat, gently remold the wool using your hands. When finished, lay the hat upside down (on the crown) to dry. This serves as a great hat refresher.

All done!

diy sew: reworking a vintage hat - drifter and the gypsy blog
diy sew: reworking a vintage hat - drifter and the gypsy blog
diy sew: reworking a vintage hat - drifter and the gypsy blog
diy sew: reworking a vintage hat - drifter and the gypsy blog
Special thanks to Jessie of Strawberry Moth for modeling.

Lauren (DIY Sew Contributor)

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DIY Sew: Macrame Wall Hanging (for beginners!)

diy sew: macrame wall hanging (for beginners!) - drifter and the gypsy blog
With only two varieties of knots and 23 knots altogether, this wall hanging is a great way to introduce yourself to macrame. The finished hanging measures 16 inches wide by 38 inches long and is low-key and minimalist.

Materials:

– 10 pieces of 3mm cotton macrame cord – each piece 9 feet (3 yards) long

– 1 piece of wood or dowel rod around a foot long for hanging

diy sew: macrame wall hanging (for beginners!) - drifter and the gypsy blog
Steps:

1. Attach rope to stick by looping the rope over the stick, then feeding the other end of the rope evenly through the loop. Pull tight.

diy sew: macrame wall hanging (for beginners!) - drifter and the gypsy blog
2. Using rope in pairs (two strands per piece, four strands per knot total) and starting a couple inches from the top, tie the carrick bend knot. Begin by making a loop with the left rope, then weave the right side rope through, alternating over and under each bit of rope (follow steps of photo from left to right). Shape the knot evenly.

3. 4 inches beneath your completed carrick bend knots, tie the overhand knot. Skip the rope pieces on both outer edges, and working from left to right, start with the rope piece next to the furthest most left piece. Knot it together with its rope companion the right. Tie 4 overhand knots in this row.

4. Move 4 inches down again and start the 3rd row of knots. This time, begin from the outer edge and tie overhand knots again. You should have 5 overhand knots in this row.

5. Row 4, tie 4 overhand knots in the same way as step 3.

6. Finish with carrick bend knots in a V shape. Working left to right, begin at the outer edge about four inches down and tie your first carrick bend. The next carrick bend knot should be a couple inches lower than this one, and the next (which is in the center) should be a couple inches lower than that one. Work your way upward again on the right side.

diy sew: macrame wall hanging (for beginners!) - drifter and the gypsy blog
7. Knot the ends of the rope, straighten out your knots and hang!

diy sew: macrame wall hanging (for beginners!) - drifter and the gypsy blog
diy sew: macrame wall hanging (for beginners!) - drifter and the gypsy blog

*Tips: Work on a flat surface. Always keep your cord even and flat when working – this ensures proper knotting. If you’re having issues forming knots evenly, try taping your knots down as you work, or tracing a completed knot on a piece of paper so you can refer to this outline when creating matching knots.

diy sew: macrame wall hanging (for beginners!) - drifter and the gypsy blog
diy sew: macrame wall hanging (for beginners!) - drifter and the gypsy blog
*Plant hanging baskets by Rhiannon Tyndell

Lauren (DIY Sew Contributor)

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Geometric Brass Necklace DIY

geo necklace diy - drifter and the gypsy blog
geo necklace diy - drifter and the gypsy blog

A jewelry designer I count among my favorites is Iacoli & McAllister – their futuristic designs are striking and comfortably complement the simplest or craziest of wardrobes. Lately I’ve been intrigued by their most basic forms of geometric shapes and monochromatic bead strings, but I wanted to see them in a silver color, so I experimented with making my own.

What you need: 3 yards of 1-2mm leather (which will make roughly two necklaces), suede, or imitation cord and brass tube beads in a square shape, 3.5×3.5x60mm. You can find the beads all over Etsy, but I suggest purchasing from Geometric Land. I used 8 of them in all.

geo necklace diy - drifter and the gypsy blog

The easiest way to make a brass tube necklace is simply string four beads onto about 35 inches of cord, then knot it at the top. But if you’d like, you can create fun geometric shapes with the beads as follows…

1. To create a triangle, string three beads onto your cord. To create a square, string four beads, etc. To create a simple bar shape, use one or two beads.

2. Take the end of the cord and string it through the opposite bead, facing the cord end towards the rest of the beads.

3. Pull tight. You should have your geometric shape! Knot your cord tightly at the ends.

geo necklace diy - drifter and the gypsy blog

Feel free to experiment with these beads and see what shapes you can come up with – the thinner the cord, the more you can lace it through your beads. Don’t cut your cord until you know the shape you’re using. And have fun with it!

geo necklace diy - drifter and the gypsy blog
geo necklace diy - drifter and the gypsy blog

This is my last post for Drifter & the Gypsy. Thank you for reading my column; I have truly enjoyed contributing! For more DIY tricks, be sure to follow my personal blog at Blooming Leopold.

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Block Print Blouse

block print blouse - drifter and the gypsy
block print blouse - drifter and the gypsy
block print blouse - drifter and the gypsy

Hey all! It’s Lauren from Blooming Leopold. If you’ve investigated fall runways lately, you’ve probably noticed that eye prints are a serious (and perhaps polarizing) trend this fall. Instead of dropping a lot of cash on a transitory style, why not use the trend as an excuse to get creative and make an eye print shirt of your own?

block print blouse - drifter and the gypsy

What you need: Speedball block printing kit, fabric screen printing ink (the ink the block kit comes with is for paper, not fabric), a shirt, and an iron.

block print blouse - drifter and the gypsy

Step one. Find an eye image you like, and print it out and cut it (after Googling eyes I found this image to use). Trace the eye image on your linoleum block using a pen. I cut my linoleum block in half so I could use the other half for a different project.

Step two. Outline the eye shape carefully using the small no.1 cutter located in the block kit. The best way to cut is hold the tool firmly and push long, deep cuts away from you and into the block. The cutter blades are in a U shape, angle the blade so the U is standing upright and hold the tool at a side angle (see the fifth photo).

Step three. Once your eye has been outlined, remove the excess area with the large no.5 cutter. Make sure to cut deep enough that when you stamp your fabric, only the eye image remains. Brush off all excess chips of linoleum.

block print blouse - drifter and the gypsy

Step four. Start stamping! Place a piece of cardboard inside your shirt and lay it out flat on a protected surface. Roll the fabric paint into an even layer in your tray. Press the stamp into the ink, then onto the fabric. Press every bit of the stamp firmly down with the palm of your hand, making sure that the stamp ink is contacting the fabric evenly. Before you start stamping onto the garment, it’s a good idea to test the stamp first onto a piece of paper to verify that all excess area has been removed and isn’t catching any ink.

Step five. Allow your shirt to dry, then heat set it using a dry iron. Place a piece of scrap fabric between the iron and the shirt, then let the iron sit on each inked area for 10-20 seconds. When you’re ready to clean up your tools, just rinse them with water and dry thoroughly.

block print blouse - drifter and the gypsy
block print blouse - drifter and the gypsy

There you have it – an eye print top and a block printing kit you can use for future projects!

Lauren (DIY Sew Contributor)

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Five Minute Dip Dye Method

five minute dip dye method - drifter and the gypsy blog
five minute dip dye method - drifter and the gypsy blog

Happy September, all! It’s Lauren from Blooming Leopold, back with the fastest project yet – a simple dip dye DIY. The entire process (minus drying time) takes roughly five minutes to accomplish. Let’s get to it!

five minute dip dye method - drifter and the gypsy blog

What you need: A dress or skirt to dye, a one quart sized plastic storage bag, an iron, and a 2.25 ounce jar of Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint.

five minute dip dye method - drifter and the gypsy blog

If you have textile detergent at home, wash your garment in the detergent as it’ll aid in taking the dye well. Fill your plastic bag with the Dye Na Flow paint, and add just a little water. Seal the bag and shake it to mix. If you’re looking for a marbled texture like my dress, add more water. If you’re interested in a solid dye hue, add less (just a few drops).

five minute dip dye method - drifter and the gypsy blog

1 & 2. Take your dress and evenly dip the skirt hem into the bag, maneuvering it so half of the skirt is submerged in dye. Leave the skirt in the dye for a few minutes. Be careful to protect the rest of the dress from the dye.

3. Once done, lay your dress out on a covered surface and in the sun to dry. For a marbled texture, crinkle the skirt up a bit – the dye will dry unevenly. If you’d like the dye more even, flatten the skirt as much as possible.

4. When the dress is dry, it’s time to heat set the fabric using an iron. Move the dry iron over the entire dyed area and let it rest for several moments at the heat setting specific to your fabric (read the label for prescribed heat settings).

five minute dip dye method - drifter and the gypsy blog

And that’s all for this project! When washing your dyed dress or skirt for the first time, I recommend using textile detergent. If you don’t have any, a gentle wash with cold water and like colors will do. Feel free to share thoughts or questions in the comments below.

five minute dip dye method - drifter and the gypsy blog
five minute dip dye method - drifter and the gypsy blog

Lauren (DIY Sew Contributor)

click here for more diy sew!

Art tissue top

art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog

Hi guys! Lauren here. Discovering new dyeing processes is an exciting part of creating clothing – perhaps it’s my favorite part. There are many variables with dyeing, and generally the final result is a surprise. This month, I’m using art tissue paper to transfer color to silk, resulting in a vibrant design.

art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog
art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog

What you need for this project: Spectra Art Tissue, spray bottle filled with equal parts water and white vinegar, a tray to hold your project, and a dyeable silk piece – scarf, top, dress, anything.

art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog

Caution – I’ve read that fabric dyed with art tissue is prone to fading when washed, so use it on a top or scarf that requires infrequent washing. I have yet to wash my dyed top but I will update this post with the outcome once I do. Other precautions you can take – treat your garment with textile detergent such as Synthrapol prior to and following dyeing.

Elizabeth Suzann kindly lent me her kimono top pattern to try out, so I used it for this tutorial. I folded the pattern piece at the center by a couple inches to shrink the size, making sure to cut a wider neck opening. For the top, I used Dharma Trading Company‘s 16mm crepe de chine silk and sand washed it myself using soda ash and Elizabeth‘s handy tutorial.

Once your silk is ready to dye, choose your color scheme. Cut or tear the art tissue sheets into whatever shapes or sizes you prefer, then lay out your garment in the shallow plastic tray.

Place the art tissue on the garment in whatever order you like, covering nearly every inch of fabric. Keep in mind that colors will bleed together, so don’t layer too many colors – you might get muddied results.

art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog

Once the art tissue is laid out, completely saturate the garment with the vinegar and water mixture. If more of the garment needs to be covered with tissue, layer and repeat, folding the garment in on itself.

Let your garment dry overnight. Once it is completely dry, check your results and discard any washed out tissue – if you want more color, repeat the process with new art tissue.

Once you have your desired color, heat set the garment by ironing it or throwing it in a warm dryer for 10-20 minutes.

After heat setting, I sewed the side and shoulder seams of my kimono top pieces together. Air out the garment (and maybe use some fabric refresher) to rid it of the vinegar smell, and you have a wearable piece of art.

I heard that the art tissue is reusable for other projects following the dye process, but all my tissue was washed out (not to mention smelling strongly of vinegar) so it had run its course.

art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog
art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog
art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog
art tissue top - drifter and the gypsy blog

There you have it! Feel free to share any thoughts or questions in the comments section below, and check out my blog, Blooming Leopold, for more DIY and style ideas.

Lauren (DIY Sew Contributor)

click here for more diy sew!

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